How to Wash a Dirty Road Bike
How to Wash a Dirty Road Bike
Not All Cycling Routes are Created Equal
Obviously there are good cycling routes and there are bad ones. A good cycling route could also be classified as a bad route if its terrain is not conducive to the purpose for which the cyclist is riding it. For example, if the cyclist wants to do speed work, then a hilly course is not so good. And if the cyclist wants to do hill work, then a flat course is not so good. But what this blog post is trying to get at is good cycling routes typically have roads that have little to no traffic on them, few hazards like angled railroad track crossings, ample places to stop for food and restrooms, and nice scenery. Conversely, bad cycling routes have lots of very busy streets, hazards like angled railroad track crossings, not too many rest stops, and lame scenery.
When I first started designing routes for Randonneurs USA (RUSA) last year it seemed to me that the powers in the club responsible for approving my creations had a pretty hardened idea of what a good cycling route included. Basically they wanted all the good qualities in a route and didn’t have much tolerance for the bad. Highest on their list of what made a good route was roads with little to no traffic. But they seemed to want all the other qualities of a good route, too: no RR tracks, lots of convenience stores, and nice scenery. Unfortunately, the real world usually doesn’t provide all of this in one package. If you want remote/rural roads, then you probably aren’t going to find many convenience stores available. And if you want convenience stores, then you probably aren’t going to have a route in too remote of a location. A balancing of the variables has to take place.
The moral of the story is that there will be some really neat routes that have all the good qualities in abundance. And there will be many more that have some of them, but not all. The routes that don’t have any of the good qualities need to be avoided.
The Need for Cycling Routes
Back in 2010 I joined a recreational cycling club based in Cranbury, NJ. It calls itself the “Princeton Freewheelers” (PFW), but it has little to do with the town of Princeton. Typical of the way local businesses, developers, and organizations name their companies and practices in the Princeton area. When I joined the club there were only a handful of ride leaders who for the most part lead rides out of Village Park in Cranbury. There were a few rides being lead out of Ringoes in the Sourland Mountains, and there were a few rides being lead out of Pennington and Hopewell. But none from Princeton. Anyway, these ride leaders kept close control over the routes they designed for their rides. To this day, most ride leaders at Princeton Freewheelers do not share their route designs with others. So unfortunate. So there is not only a shortage of ride leaders at PFW, but also a shortage of published route designs.
Then in 2017 I joined a national cycling club with various local districts through the United States. Its acronym is RUSA which stands for Randonneurs USA. And this organization is set up differently than PFW. Instead of depending on ride leaders to lead rides the way PFW operates, RUSA depends on its members to create routes that will be ridden without a leader. Interesting concept actually. But it only works well if members are willing to create routes. I’ll admit that it is more difficult to design a route for RUSA purposes than it is for PFW purposes. However, in the Princeton area there are not too many RUSA routes to choose from. And to make matters worse, the ones that are available currently are short routes. RUSA prides itself on promoting ULTRA-distance cycling events, typically 200k, 300k, 400k, 600k, 1000k, and 1200k. How many RUSA routes are offered in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to RUSA members to do when they want that are longer than 200k? Answer: no more than a handful. None of the 1000k or 1200k variety. So what gives?
Well, it seems no matter the cycling club there will be a problem getting members to lead and to create routes. Fortunately for me I am very comfortable leading PFW rides and designing routes for both PFW and RUSA. I add links to my RWGPS route maps to all my postings on the online PFW Ride Calendar, and I’ve started creating RUSA routes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that are included in the RUSA Permanents database. My goal with regard to RUSA routes is to create the ones I wish had already been created so I can have more fun with RUSA. As it stand now, I foresee myself getting bored with RUSA in the somewhat near future if I don’t create routes for it.
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