Routine has a stigma attached to it.
It's doing the same thing over and over and over again. It’s boring. It’s procedural. It’s repetitive. It’s mundane.
But routine is also essential.
What’s important is that the warm, cosy cuddle of routine doesn’t give way to complacency.
It provides a framework and a structure that relieves the need to think and make decisions, instead allowing us instead to simply do.
Cycling every day, either on the same, familiar roads or out towards new ones, transforms intimidating traffic into background noise. Insurmountable distances become achievable — even unremarkable — weekly rides. Previously irreparable mid-ride mechanicals are soon resolved with a multi-tool and a bit of ingenuity.
Aiming to ride 15,000km over the course of 12 months, routine provides me with a much-needed anchor; a comfort blanket that helps to make each day a little more containable, controllable and — subsequently — approachable.
What’s important is that the warm, cosy cuddle of routine doesn’t give way to complacency. After all, it’s not a rigid set of instructions and guidelines. It’s a platform. It’s a means of creating a stable foundation that allows me to let in and enjoy the messy, the unexpected and the serendipitous.
Sometimes it’s as simple as veering left at a junction on the way home and discovering a more enjoyable way to navigate the frenetic streets of London — a moments respite on a tree-lined street between one car-filled A road and another.
More enjoyable and, sadly, less frequent, are those opportunities that allow you to discover a place for the first time. Fresh off the train, the plane or the bus in a new town or country, everything is unfamiliar.
My bike becomes my anchor. Acting as tour guide-come-taxi service, my legs power me through unknown lanes. I absorb new surroundings and make mental notes of the spots I’ll be looping back round to later, I’m comforted by the well-known drone of tyre on tarmac and those light but constant vibrations pulsing through my forearms.
So what if I get a blow-out; I’ve got tubes and know what to do.
Who cares if I take the wrong street and go a little off-piste; a few more turns and I’ll be back where I started and, failing that, I might not know the road ahead, but I know the road that I’ve left behind me.
And if it all results in a few more kms on the final distance? Just shy of 300km per week, every week, stands you in relatively good stead for those unprecedented (and sometimes soul-destroying) moments you find yourself climbing back up the hill you’ve just mistakenly descended or aimlessly snaking through housing estates in South East London.
Routine is not your enemy.
It’s your enabler.