I realized today, as I pedaled around town, that casual riding feels completely foreign to me. I've ridden in such a serious, competitive, or hard core way for so long now, that I can't get on a bike and not want to go hard, wear the full gear, etc. I can't seem to bring myself to get on a bike and not be wearing a $100+ chamois, gloves, cycling shoes, and so on. Not wearing a helmet is out of the question (and should be required for anyone whose brain is worth saving; if you think you don't need to wear a helmet...).
Anyway, so I'm relearning how to ride "casually." How to ride at a pace where I don't break a sweat, to fully enjoy the scenery, to ride with no intention other than to be on a bike and out enjoying life, ride for transportation, or whatever. It's been fun getting back to this. Don't get me wrong, I am still going to be hammering whenever I can, but this adds a new dimension to my cycling life, and I love it.
Today I actually hit the grocery store as part of my ride. Picked up a few things for dinner. It was the first time I've locked up a bike (other than on my car's rack), probably since college!
The next phase in this process is to ride into town and work a few hours in a coffee shop (Wandering Goat probably) once in a while. Luckily the big hills are always on the way home, so I can coast and soft-pedal it down to the shop, then get the workout on the way home. This way I also won't be stinking out my cafe mates :)