In Japan I used to cycle from home to the seaside, which was about 12.5km. The route was pretty much completely flat and competely straight. The only obstacles on the way were traffic lights. 12km is the perfect distance for me to push myself, take a break and then cycle back. I used to be able to do that course in 34 minutes ?? seconds, I forget the exact time. Despite the traffic lights being fairly random I was quite consistent in hitting that time. It was the first I ever truly 'got' that sensation you get from physical exercise, of being relaxed yet hyped up, of being tired yet aware. It's when you know that you're alive.
Now I have new destination: my girlfriend's place! It's also about 12.5km away, but it has a bit more obstacles and challenges. First off, my home is on a hill, so leaving the house is easy and getting back is a pain. There's hardly a flat bit on the way, but I'd say it's about 10% flat, 70% significant downhill and 20% significant uphill. Nowhere near mountainous of course, but enough to make you stop pedaling when going down or start sweating when going up.
There's a couple of big multi-lane roundabouts on the course that are surprisingly easy to tackle because there's never that much traffic. There's always room for a bicycle to sneak in and take it halfway. The road narrows a lot in several areas where there's a middle section to allow pedestrians to cross. Cars tend to wait their turn when it gets narrow but I've had some bastard bus driver encounters where the gap was a bit too narrow for my liking (but still safe). What's worse, sometimes the road surface is crap because of heavy trucks pushing all the asphalt to the side, creating a sort of hill right where bicycles are supposed to cycle, and the only way to avoid it is by cycling on the middle of the road. Which is of course what I do. If this country can't provide decent roads for cycling then I feel no remorse about being in the way of car drivers when I have to.
Slightly past halfway there's a very weird multi-story triple roundabout, which I avoid entirely by going underneath it via a dedicated cycle way. It means I have to spiral down, then up, then down again (or vice versa). After that there's a bit of uphill and then another massive roundabout, always full of cars, where I have to go three quarters. Taking it through sidewalks is a bit of a pain, so it depends on traffic on whether I take it as a pedestrian or as a car. After that it's downhill all the way to my girlfriend's house!
I feel healthy again, and comfortable on the bike. This feeling coincided with the cycling trip and changing my saddle, both of which contributed to the feeling. The new saddle is tough and slightly painful in the beginning, but I remember the feeling well, and it's how I'm supposed to feel when riding a bicycle. When I feel my butt on the saddle like that, I know all is right with the world. And after the cycling trip in Holland I feel completely comfortable on my 'new' bicycle, which is now almost a year old. I know how it reacts, I know what I can and can't do with it. It's where I belong.