A few weeks ago I rode with a friend/co-worker from our work place to his house along his usual commute route. He led the way. We rode along crosswalks (I hate that), we traveled on curbs (I hate that too), we cut through glass strewn alleys (yuck) and over gravelly cut-throughs (whoa). As he rode ahead of me he would announce what was coming up and why we were going that way. “I stop here and go up over the curb and then down that grassy trail- that way we don’t have to stop at the traffic light.” Personally, I always ride on the road with cars so this was annoying.

But our ride was also peppered with stuff like: “See where that pizza place is? That used to be a field with a cool barn in it”, or “right there last week I saw a ground hog with its head in a Burger King bag” and helpful safety advice like “Careful of that manhole cover. It’s got some kind of goo on it that I slipped on a while back.”

After we parted and shouted goodbyes and I got onto the smoother pavement with the cars and the traffic lights and gained some speed, I realized that I had just had a wonderful experience. I certainly didn’t recognize it at the time. My friend had ridden this route day after day, slowly shaping it to his liking, making decisions based on the terrain and colored by his personality. During the ride, I didn’t get any of this.

That little ride meant a lot to me, although I’d probably never ride it again. Ever been on someone else’s route?