Today's surprise commuting experience:
I have several routes that are all fairly close to each other and generally parallel. I'm fortunate to have multiple MUPs and/or quiet residential streets to ride for about 4.5 of my 5 mile commute to work. This morning I decided to zoom over to the elementary school near my house and cut through their parking lot to start a slightly longer way to work. This would let me avoid a big mud puddle on another trail I saw on the way home last night as well as some slightly different scenery, since I hadn't gone the school way in a couple weeks.
I forgot school has started, and that made a difference this morning. All summer the school was abandoned and I'd fly through there without a care, but today there were kids and teachers and parents and cars all over the place out front. I decided a guy blasting through the crowd in the parking lot on a bike wouldn't do anyone any good, so instead I rode almost past the school on a side street and cut down across a steep grassy hill, through the playground (there was no one in sight or I wouldn't have done this), and then pick up the little single-track trail that leaves the playground and joins the main trail 20 or 30 yards away.
I thought the hill would be a nice SMOOTH grassy hill but instead it was a bone-jarring, tooth-rattling shake-a-thon that I would have approached much more slowly if I had known what I was in for. I somehow survived and bolted down the gravel MUP to my favorite part of my commute when I go this way - a long downhill run of maybe a mile on a very quiet neighborhood street. It's long and steep enough that I can just about spin out on my 3x8 '90s MTB running street tires if I want to. From there I cross a little side road and take a flat run of perhaps a mile on MUP before the last part of my commute - a steady uphill of maybe two miles.
Down on the flats, thinking of the climb ahead, I reached down to grab my water bottle for a big swig of water, and...
...I bet some of you guessed where this was going when I described the hill. Yep, no water bottle. I suppose I could have left it but I knew I'd want water as I got closer to my office, and why waste a perfectly good bottle? I was ahead of schedule, and my arrival time at work is flexible as long as I'm not stupidly late, so I turned around and rode back up to the school to get my bottle.
That turned in to a nice long ride and I feel even better than usual here at my desk, knowing that I've gotten my excercise for the day and get to do it all over again after work, too.