If you had one last ride in your life – where would it be?
France? Spain? Colorado? Somewhere with mountains that tower and fields that flower, I would imagine. Somewhere there are legends; the Tourmalet, the Alps, the Passo di Gavia perhaps. Somewhere with flaky pastries and a fine cup of coffee, if you enjoy your stops just as much as I do (and I do enjoy a good coffee ride). The perfect ride.
One last five hour trip until you unclip your pedals and clack your carbon shoes into the great beyond. Bliss.
If it were mine, I’d stay a little closer. Specifically, I’d head west to my hometown of Hutchinson, MN. It’s pancake flat all the way there. Nothing but rolling hills (rolling is generous) and farmland between here and there. But those roads and small towns are dearer to me than all the mountains of France. I’ve completed the seventy or so mile route no more than ten times, but each one is more enjoyable than the last. Each time I see something new and different, take a different path or meet someone for the first time. As I child I used to stare out the back window of my parent’s car and wonder what it would be like to interact with the blur of land rushing past. As an adult I am able to realize that dream.
I know those roads better than the back of my hand. I’ve spent countless hours perusing maps and screens trying to decipher the perfect route to home and back. This drive led to the creation of the Musette’s first ride; The Ox Yoke. I’ve done it in 100+ degree heat. I’ve done it in a blizzard. My favorite effort saw me out on an empty road some twenty miles from any real civilization without a light (I broke the mount) or smart phone (I broke the charger) to guide me. Just two wheels, the stars, one very startled coyote and me. Bliss.
So when you find yourself daydreaming about winning a mountain stage in the Tour or stopping for espresso on an overlook of the Mediterranean, try and bring yourself back. Find your favorite roads here and take advantage of that. It’s all fine and good to dream, but there’s something to be said about just hopping on the bike and going for a ride.
Ride often. Ride well. Ride local.