Among the best parts of the TNSR (as it is affectionately known) is that it follows a different route every week, routinely taking me to parts of the city I've never seen. I get to know my city so much better for the experience of having seen it by bike.
Every week, for all that the ride ranges from 200-300 people, I run into the same people. I always meet new ones, but there are a few regulars I get to see all the time. My dear friend Sunshine and I arrived around 7 or so for pre-ride socializing and all-important beers - those bags are heavy til you drink them lighter!
Around 8 the group took off from Festival Beach park. The exit is always interesting, with the inevitable bottleneck caused by 300 rolling vehicles trying to spread out but stay in conversation range. It's a social ride in every way, so while there are faster and slower cyclists, everyone is primarily there to hang out together, doing something we love. We follow the laws to the best of our ability, are polite to other vehicles and riders, and generally try to be good ambassadors for cycling on a grand scale. And it works! Generally everyone has a very nice time and nothing bad happens.
This week's route took us on a winding, hilly ride through east Austin, stopping at several parks, and ending at the Nomad Bar. As we rode, my bag gradually got lighter, but the end result of beer drinking is that I was completely starving by the time we got to the bar. Sunshine and I, having had our fill of beers, but having no clue where we were, decided it was time to make our way home after sitting on the curb and splitting a Coke and a medium-sized bag of Fritos between the two of us.
One problem - I had absolutely no clue where we were, just that we were "somewhere in central-northish Austin east of the freeway." Lucky me though, that my phone also functions as a GPS. We fired up my Device, I mapped us a route back to Sunshine's house/my car and slow-pedalled it the whole way back. I'm sure the Fritos helped in that effort.