Taking the time to just ride your bike ... seems like a straight forward statement but when I analyse how much time I spend just ‘riding’ a bike it stacks up to a pretty small percentage of the time I spend on a bike.
To offer some clarity to what seems like a pretty dumb statement ‘riding’ a bike is to be free from the constraints of time, structure and pressure of a goal or target.
Most the time my cycling is focused... I know when the next race is and how I need to prepare for it .. this dictates what I ride, how I ride and where I ride ... its not free from joy as no time spent cycling is ever negative in my view as there are always a million worse situations you could be in but to just be on a bike with no agenda doesn’t happen very often.
Weather at the moment in the UK is outstanding ... our summer has finally arrived and after many hours spent in the cold and rain its finally shorts and short sleeve time ... so a long weekend was outlined .. Friday ride west.. bivi ... Saturday turn and ride back east ... bikepacking so no destination was required just a place to throw a sleeping bag down.
The only route planning was an offer of mine to ride a proposed section of a long distance bikepacking race route in UK .. other than that we had a map and a Garmin.
The Friday morning started with meeting Adam Cooke on Newcastle Quayside and from there we set off west.
Any opportunity to stop for a photo or a cold beverage was taken ... without a planned route the ability to impose any kind of expected timescale was impossible and pretty liberating .. even when you try and have an easy ride often it ends in you challenging yourself to complete in a certain time .. we didn’t want that here .. it was a timing free ride and exactly the unplanned nature we were looking for.
The riding was varied .. we explored the offroad trails we hadn’t previously ridden and generally just took a look around at places we would of usually gassed straight through in pursuit of a pre determined time or destination.
When time came to stop for the night we were close to 10pm and still with light we could take our time looking for a good spot to bivi.
The following day took in similar riding as we picked our way home exploring new roads and stopping at cafes we had never visited before.
Safe to say the mood was high due to the weather but I think the simplicity of just riding a bike with no agenda also played some part in the enjoyment of these few days.
I think without trying to offer any degree of forward planning this is the kind of riding I need to make extra time for .. no agenda and the only plan to be outdoors on bikes for a few days.
There is a time for racing and training but sometimes its equally as rewarding to leave the watch at home.