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.