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.