Configurations for 1200k Bike Rides
If you follow this blog, then you know I have an interest in ultra-distance cycling challenges. And that I seem to enjoy designing 1200k cycling routes. Typically such rides are broken into 3.5 days of riding. Day 1 should include a 400k ride, days 2 and 3 should each include a 300k ride, and Day 4 should include a 200k ride.
Probably the first issue to settle when designing a long route is whether the overall ride will be a “loop” or a “point-to-point.” Said another way, will the overall ride start and finish at the same place, typically where you will be parking your car. Or will it start and finish at different locations so you will somehow have to figure out how to get back to your car after riding the route.
I’m not much of a fan of point-to-point rides. I suppose under some conditions they could be neat. For example, start a long ride in the north after parking your car at an Amtrak train station, and ride south where the finish is at another Amtrak train station. Then you can easily hop on an Amtrak train with your bike and return to your car. But for the most part, I think loop-type routes are the best.
But not all loops are the same. Some involve tying two loops together, each sharing the same start/finish location. For example, a 700k loop and a 500k loop. Or a 400k loop and an 800k loop. Or maybe a 1000k loop and a 200k loop. Another loop configuration would consist of tying three loops together. For example, a 400k loop followed by a 600k loop followed by a 200k loop. Or maybe a 700k loop followed by a 300k loop followed by a 200k loop. And the last loop configuration would consist of tying four loops together. This configuration is generally known as a Cloverleaf Route. Day 1 would be a 400k ride, days 2 and 3 would each be a 300k ride, and Day 4 would be a 200k ride.
Of course, there is one other way to put together a loop route. It would involve one big loop with possibly one loop buried in it. For example, consider a 900k loop with either Day 2 or Day 3 being a 300k loop. Or how about a 600k loop involving days 1 and 4, and days 2 and 3 being a 600 loop.
The easiest type of loop configuration to administer is the Cloverleaf Route because there is only one overnight (sleep) facility that the riders will use. As a result, they don’t get all that far away from the start/finish, and that makes it easier for the administration to “retrieve” them if necessary. The hardest type of loop configuration to administer is the one-big-loop variety. Each overnight (sleep) facility will need to be different. And riders will be hard to “retrieve” in many cases.