Who says you have to go to the countryside to have a scenic ride? I’m actually a fan of urban riding. And you just need to slightly adjust your definition of “scenic” to enjoy it. It also helps if you can ride on a day like Christmas, when there’s almost no traffic.
Normally, urban riding involves a lot of quick accelerating, and hard braking, with some fast swerves to avoid potholes or manhole covers or change lanes. The notable exceptions are early on Sunday morning (okay, I was up early enough for that *once*), and a holiday like Christmas Day, when almost everybody is home with family, or on the highway traveling to get to family.
Today was different. I found myself not working on Christmas Day for the first time in three years, and also without my kids. One is 85 miles away, and the other half a continent away. Having already slept in, and cooked and eaten a leisurely breakfast and savored my coffee, I checked the weather. What? 66 degrees, and roughly 70% chance of no rain? On December 25? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the many benefits of life in central Texas.
So I grab the jacket and gloves. I forgo the full face helmet and dig the half shell lid out of the closet in celebration of the weather, which is unseasonable even for here, gas up at the corner station, and head into town. I exit the freeway on the north edge of downtown, and start making random turns onto random streets, just enjoying the sights of a major city nearly deserted.
I have in mind a quote from Hunter S. Thompson: Sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested. I’d slept late, I was having fun. I intended to ride fast on empty streets with certain topics on my mind. I even found opportunity to drink whiskey during the day. I didn’t exactly get wild, but the weekend was still ahead of me.
The scenery I mentioned at the beginning is there in abundance; you just have to be able to appreciate architecture, construction, and the later attempts to “customize” its appearance, with signs, paint, and yes, even graffiti. Mankind is driven to change our surroundings, and nowhere is it more evident than in cities.
I rode past the capital building, past closed law offices, business buildings, restaurants devoid of customers and staff. It should come as no surprise though, in Texas, that I did find several bars open and stopped at one, only to find it difficult to find a seat, it was so packed. Ah, the whiskey opportunity.
Back on the road, and more random turns took me into residential areas. It was nice to see kids out playing with their Yule loot. Footballs being tossed down the street to friends, kids on bicycles, kids playing with Nerf guns. It was heartwarming to see dads in driveways with their younger kids, helping them figure out the finer details of Santa’s bounty.
A few more turns and I realized I’d unconsciously made my way back to the north end of town, and closer to home. I was getting hungry anyway, so decided it was time to head home for my own Christmas dinner of garlic shrimp and pasta. I know it’s not exactly traditional, but nothing about today had been, so it was perfect.