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Roads: New vs. Familiar

Posted 06-03-2012 at 08:28 PM by Diva
Updated 06-03-2012 at 08:29 PM by Diva (Adding categories)

Kind of been blogging about my ride experiences and thought I'd try it on this forum. So welcome to my 1st official PNWR blog. Enjoy!

Thanks to Destination Highways (no this is not an ad for them but they are highly recommended), Iíve had the pleasure of exploring a lot of back roads throughout Western Washington and several in Eastern WA. I have several local favorites, but I yearn to find new roads (well roads new to me) for that since of discovery, the thrill of the unexpected, and the enjoyment of something different. But is the thrill of new better than the comforting feeling of the familiar?

Once a year there are certain areas/roads I try to always do:
Woods Creek/Lake Roesinger to Granite Falls
Hwy 504 Mt St Helens
3 Pass Blast (Snoqualmie, Blewett, Stevens and reverse order), including Chumstick Hwy
Tulip Country and the back roads/twisties on Whidbey Island like Penn Cove, North Bluff Road, Smugglerís Cove

I love the feeling I get riding these now familiar roads. I donít need to bring a map or directions really, but do only to make sure I donít miss anything. After all, itís been about a year since Iíve been here and a lot has happened over that year most times. But there is something thrilling to see that familiar exit of the freeway, passing by other side roads Iíve explore smiling at the memory of where they lead me or laughing cynically knowing the mistake I made trying that path vowing to Ďnot do that againí (oh Cabin Creek Rd off I-90 comes to mind, trying to bypass traffic and nearly getting caught in a snow drift Ė hate doubling back but hate be stranded even more-ha!), or wondering where they led as I make a mental note to map it when I get home.

One way I make familiar roads new again is to ride them in the opposite direction. Approaching form the north instead of the south, turning left instead of right can make all the difference in the world. Not that I like to go up and down the same stretches on the same day, waiting a week, month or even year can make it new for me.

Bringing others along also help me to see my familiar route with new eyes. What will they think of this corner or curve or view? Itís kind of like a parent looking at their world through the eyes of their child, or seeing your local sights through the eyes of a visiting tourist. Seeing the route and roads in with a different POV I wonít say make them like riding a new road, but enhances that familiar feeling to a intimate state, making it comfortable knowing a weird bump or a change in the quality of the payment. All in all, itís a joy to ride.

Last year I explored some truly new roads to me, over on Vancouver Island. I joke that I had to go to a foreign country to find new roads, but Iím not that arrogant to think that in my 10+ years of riding that Iíve explored all roads. I know thatís not true. Iíve just explore many of the best.

Riding Vancouver Island is now a surreal dreamlike experience and was at the time. I was ecstatic to finally be discovering all new roads, from turning left at the border off I-5 to 3 days later returning to Anacortes. Everything was completely new and very different for me especially since it was in a foreign country where kilometers replaced miles and litre replaced gallons. Street names were unfamiliar and landmarks, while historical, were novel to me. So much to take in, I couldnít register everything I wanted to. The road, the route was primary, but the scenery was a robust competitor. Vying for equal attention was the quality and warm character of the riders showing me their favorite local roads. Not even the ever changing weather throwing us freezing rain, hail and snow could lessen the excitement. In some ways it may have even enhanced it. Still more to take in that unfortunately canít be captured in photos or a helmet cam, though I would like to try the helmet cam part at some point in time. I guess this is the feeling film makers have. For now, I will have to settle with vivid memories and lucid dreams.

With all the wonderful miles I experienced that long weekend, it fueled my desire to find more roads, not quench it, though it make have satiated it for a while.

So whatís the answer to new vs. familiar? There really isnít one other than to enjoy them both as much and as often as I can. As I do, I just need to find more time to get away to explore the outer reaches of the state and beyond. Until then, seeing my familiar roads through new eyes in different directions could stave off that ever un-quenching thirst for somewhere new. Iím sure will do my best to combine the two.
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