Deciding when and where to ride

I consider myself pretty fortunate in that I live in an area of the country that has a good number of quiet roads suitable for cycling for leisure purposes. Luckily I work from home so I can choose any route I wish for my cycle rides and am not limited to retreading the same route day after day.

However I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are a number of considerations that come into play everytime I think about going out for a ride. Do I choose the route that starts off uphill, going along an A-road that is the continuation of the town by-pass, and therefore carries traffic that is heavier and faster than on other roads? The plus side of this road is that it is slightly wider than others so allows vehicles more room to pass. Or do I risk going into town and westwards along a B-road that dips and then follows a steep incline at the summit of which is a house where the owner often allows his dogs to roam around the road? Despite having spoken to both the owner and the police the problem of the untethered dogs and inadequately enclosed property perimeter does not seem to have been resolved. So I have to decide whether I want to risk having several dogs biting at my feet and chasing me along the road (I’ll probably post a fuller article about this at a later date).

Other considerations involve the difficulty and length of the ride, and whether I start off going uphill or downhill. And whether the end of the route is uphill or downhill (unsurprisingly, downhill is my preference at the end of the ride!)

My usual inclination is to use quiet roads as much as possible. No matter how often I tell myself that I have the right to cycle on any road I wish, the reality of wondering how close the next car is going to come when overtaking always puts a dampener on proceedings – although the thought of it is not usually as bad as the reality of it. So generally speaking – the fewer cars there are around, the better.

And talking of the car numbers – this is a factor that is very dependent on the time of day. There was a month or two I was going out at 6 a.m. The roads were predictably quiet, and it is a great time to go out. But if I leave it until after 7 and it’s a week day it can mean I catch more of the rush hour traffic (such as it is) on the latter part of the ride. So it’s almost better going out after 9 a.m. There is traffic but it’s quieter than the 8 to 9 rush.

As a cyclist, factors like these that affect your journey are thought about much more than a driver would think about them. I say this because I am both a driver and a cyclist and I don’t usually think twice about these kinds of things before I get into the car. Maybe it’s just me. I suppose that these things become less and less of a consideration the more experience you have, but certainly for someone who in recent years has not spent a lot of time cycling on the road, they are things that are taken into consideration.