If you’re anything like me then the vast majority of your rides start and finish at the same place. Probably at home. And that’s to be expected — it’s much easier to finish a ride where you started — especially if that place is your house — than it is to get to the end of your ride and realise you’re 100km+ from home with no way of getting back.
But I realised something yesterday as I was riding from Reservoir to Trentham for lunch: one-way rides feel very different to your regular out-and-back-style rides and they can be a lot of fun. Before I explain why, let me clarify by saying that I’m talking about training/recreational/social rides here, not races (many of which are one-way, particularly at higher levels of the sport).
So why are one-way rides so great? For a start, they dramatically increase your “reach”: the distance from home (or the start of your ride) you’re able to get on your bike. This is true regardless of whether you’d normally head out for a 50km pootle or a 200km epic. Using something in between as an example, if you normally ride 100km from Fitzroy, you might ride to Kinglake and back, but if you ride in only one direction, Mt. Donna Buang suddenly becomes accessible from home.
This probably sounds quite obvious, and it is, but the benefit is that you’re able to explore parts of the world, by bike, that you normally wouldn’t get to (I’m excluding drive-to-the-start rides here).
Another benefit of the one-way ride is that riding to a final destination (A to B) creates greater motivation (for me at least) than riding somewhere before heading home (A-B-A). There are mornings where I feel unenthused about riding the same roads as I normally do, knowing that I have to slog through the suburbs to get back home. When I wake up knowing I’m riding to somewhere, it seems to help my motivation levels somewhat.
This is particularly the case when that somewhere is well outside the reach of Melbourne’s urban sprawl, as it was for me yesterday. It’s very satisfying to work your way through the outer suburbs, with the housing density and road traffic thinning as you go, and reaching the first of the rural roads.
That feeling of getting out of the city is one of the things I love most about cycling and it’s even better knowing I don’t have to turn around and ride back through the suburbs to get home. And there’s another thing I like about one-way rides. Every time I’ve done one of these rides it’s been with the knowledge that someone is there waiting for me at the end, either at a designated time or just, well, waiting until I get there.
When this is the case, it places a time limit on your ride (either explicitly or implicitly via guilt) that you mightn’t otherwise have. This can be slightly stressful — it’s no fun having to check the clock every kilometre — but it can be a great motivator to push hard and get in some solid training.
If you are going to embark on a one-way ride you’ll obviously need to find a way to get home … assuming you’re not on a multi-day one-way ride. A supportive and understanding significant other is a great option when you need to get home from your one-way adventure but here’s a hot tip: organise the lift home in advance. You’ll likely get a less-than-positive reaction if you call your partner and ask to be picked up from Seymour.
A better option than a supportive and understanding partner is a supportive and understanding partner who happens to be heading to your destination anyway. I’ve been lucky enough to have this happen on a couple of occasions — yesterday with Trentham, a few months ago with Ballarat, a few months before that with Inverloch, and a few years ago with the New Zealand town of Wanaka (I didn’t ride from Melbourne to Wanaka, in case you’re wondering).
If you don’t have someone to pick you up, the train can be a good alternative. Again, it’s best to organise this one ahead of time — you don’t want to find out the train home is fully booked and that you’ll be stuck in some quiet country town for the night. Or maybe you do. Either way, be sure to check out the V-Line website (or equivalent depending on where you live) to see what the rules are when it comes to taking bikes on trains.
And, of course, there’s always the reverse option: take the train to the start of your ride and head home. I know of a bunch of people that have done this to great effect, including Dougie Hunt — who rode home from Mt. Gambier in one day last year (436km) — and the Bike Gallery lads — who did an epic 200km day last year (and just the other week), starting at Moe station, riding up Mt. Baw Baw then heading for home.
In closing, I should say that I enjoy an out-and-back or loop ride as much as the next cyclist, but yesterday’s ride to Trentham made me realise that there are other options out there to. Any ride that gets me out into the countryside and riding on roads I haven’t seen before is a win in my book.
Have you done a memorable one-way ride? Where did you ride from and to and how did you get back?