I enjoy Friday evenings. That is the time used to plan Saturday outings on the bicycle. I try to plan efficiently, and not to take too much time from other responsibilities. But I’ll confess that sometimes while engaged in other tasks, my mind drifts elsewhere. There are constraints to work within, and a few details to sort out.
Time is a constraint. Most Saturdays, the morning is available. Even so, being out for several hours means I must think about how early to rise. If it’s been a long, hard week, sacrificing saddle time for rest enhances the experience. Time on the bike is also affected by weather.
Any time other than mid-summer, I take a close look at the weather. Temperature and wind direction are factored into duration and route selection. They affect clothing, refreshments, as well as the number and location of rest stops. Sometimes I need a shady hilltop for a place to cool off, and sometimes I need a sunny protected area for a warm up. There’s not much need to study the weather in mid-summer. We know it’ll be hot and dry, the wind will be from the south, and the earliest possible start allows for the most comfortable conditions.
Bike selection is part of the planning process. Lately, the choice is between my Quickbeam and the A. Homer Hilsen. Coasting and spinning, or pure simplicity. In this part of the world, either works pretty well. So the choosing is part of the fun of planning. Sometimes the choice is dependent on the ride purpose.
It might be surprising that I actually plan Saturday outings based on several possible ride objectives. Perhaps, this blog would suggest that my rides are essentially one-dimensional, but they don’t seem that way to me. Some rides are intended to cover more distance with minimal stops. Others are short rides to a special place to spend time there enjoying the spot. I plan outings for breakfast, lunch, or to brew coffee. A few of my rides are focused on exploration, or photographs. The purpose of the ride (among other things) influences route selection.
Selecting a route is probably the most time consuming of my planning tasks. After factoring in the ride purpose, weather, time, and bike selection, I need a place to go. The usual approach is to select from a large number of habitual routes, and try to allow for a tailwind return. But sometimes, I skip route planning and just make it up while pedaling.
Part of the planning activity is devoted to gear. Whether it is camera gear, clothing, hydration, food, or maybe even a book, at least some thought is given to these things. Along with these, there’s the matter of how to carry it all. Most of the time the little Carradice saddlebag is perfect. But sometimes more cargo capacity is required.
I don’t give much thought to contingencies. Still I make sure to have tools, wallet, and a cell phone. For minor mechanical problems, I should be able to make corrections and resume my ride, or return home. For more serious problems, I like to make sure Mrs. Pondero is available to help. Sometimes I’ve gone out when having her rescue me might be a little inconvenient. I usually go anyway, but I almost always think about a possible backup plan.
Finally, I think about preparing my body. For me, this mostly means trying to get plenty of sleep, a good dinner the night before, and a hearty breakfast. I’ve been known to fail on the sleep thing. If that happens, there is often a plan for a post-ride nap. When it comes to personal comforts, I’m pretty good at thinking of everything.
It might sound like a lot of time and trouble, but it is neither. I’ve been riding bicycles for several years now. The Saturday morning bicycle outing is a routine. It almost happens automatically while lubing the chain and checking tire pressure. I dare say that planning an outing doesn’t take as much time as reading about how it is done. Even if it did, I wouldn’t give it up. The planning of it adds pleasure to a bicycle outing, and anticipation is part of the fun.