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  1. #1
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Urban cycling, or what would you call this?

    I guess I am using the right term, but I am not sure. My overall favorite type of ride is not out in the country because I get freaked out by cars passing me at 60-70 mph, although there are some relatively empty country roads I ride on occasionally with one particular friend. But I like to put in as much as 50 miles (planning on 60 next time) just meandering around Austin, Texas. Some of it is on park trails but mostly just on the streets. When I am at an intersection and have a choice of going uphill or downhill I always choose up. I am strung out on climbing the steepest streets I can find. Otherwise, its pretty random. When I come to a red light and don't want to wait I often will turn down a sidewalk or through a parking lot or whatever just to keep going. I like to explore alleys in residential neighborhoods. The properties seem to have much more personality viewed from the alley than from the street. Fortunately, I have a riding partner who is game for this kind of random wandering. We have found lots of streets that are empty when we ride after work and which we basically have to ourselves. We have one evening ride that is mapped out and consistent. It feature fairly short but steep hills with one that tops out at just over a 20% grade. Six months ago it was touch and go to make it up that hill -- even cheating by zig-zagging. Then we could usually make it up there going straight but had to stop and rest at the top with heart beating like a hammer. Now we go straight up and continue on without a rest stop.

    I have a new road bike but I don't really like it that much. I have 4, (but one sold, I think) mountain bikes with skinny street tires on them. Three out of the four are front/rear suspension and one is front only. They are fine for handling potholes, curbs, unpaved alleys etc. with no problems but can still hit 30 + mph downhill. I like the comfort of this type of bike -- not that they will ever win a race or that we set any kind of record for average MPH.

    Who else rides like this?

  2. #2
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    Sorry, I live in New Jersey.

  3. #3
    Senior Member kr32's Avatar
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    I don't but think it sounds sorta fun to be honest. I usually ride in the rural country where I have a nice shoulder to ride on. Sometimes I ride on a main road where the speed limit is 50-55. I am not however freaked out by cars going 60mph by me, it is what it is and I do not worry about it. Some roads do not have a shoulder and all I have is like 2 feet right of the line and even less sometimes. When I know these roads are going to be on my route I try to plan when the most traffic is in the opposite way.It happens when people are getting off work and coming home from DC.

    There are times when I do not turn where I normally do and see where the road takes me. It's fun to find new roads to ride.

  4. #4
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    Sorry, I live in New Jersey.
    What's wrong with that? I rented a bike and rode all over Chicago when we took a vacation there and found it interesting.

    Don in Austin

  5. #5
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    OK, I'll join in: my riding preferences in general come very close to what you describe, if I add commuting 5 days/wk excluding mid-winter.

    I accumlate typically around 6 to 7000kms/year; what isn't commute mileage accrues from going on what the British refer to as 'day rides' -- I think that's a better descriptive term than 'urban cycling', though it's that too! I'll often take off on a Saturday or Sunday and ride 100kms or so in/through/around my city, exploring wherever I think there might be something interesting to look at. I am lucky, in that we have about 40kms of paved, river-side MUP to use as well, one branch of which takes one most of the way to a large lake, around which a 27km dedicated singletrack has been constructed/is maintained for use by cyclists. So, I'm able to hoon around and explore, zip off the paved surface and follow little bits of trail, explore alleys, look at buildings, in short -- go anywhere.

    I also don't get on with road bikes (God knows I've tried), and anyway my preference is for riding alone -- cycling is my 'escape' in part from an otherwise intensely social professional/personal life -- so ultimately 'speed' etc etc doesn't really matter: fast enough for me is fast enough. So, my one and only bike is a very heavily-upgraded midrange hardtail mtb, which is set up with discs and really good, light 'touring' tires which are suitable for fast road riding and lightish off-road (which is the only kind of 'mountainbiking' I do). As set up, the bike is very quick, very comfortable (for me), very light, and very tough: all I need. I've never felt held back by it in any way, and have now comfortably completed a couple of centuries on it in reasonable time.

  6. #6
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    I do this kind of riding a lot when exploring an area that's new to me. It's fun, and as opposed to my commutes or road rides, I'm not expecting a certain level of workout from it- it may become an easy ride, or a leg burner. I like finding big hills too. Right now, my chief area for this type of riding is Portland, OR- I was assigned an equipment maintenance schedule there a few years ago as part of my job, and I'm often out exploring the city during the evenings on my bike. With the cycling culture there, most motels don't blink an eye at someone keeping a bike in their room.
    Last edited by rnorris; 01-22-10 at 11:22 AM.

  7. #7
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    I juuust took the front suspension off my older SS MTB, skinny cross type tires and rigid. It's a go go go bike for the city, no doubt.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer View Post
    I juuust took the front suspension off my older SS MTB, skinny cross type tires and rigid. It's a go go go bike for the city, no doubt.
    Hey, TRaffic, have your roads cleared in TO? The ice is gone here (London) -- nice to be out riding again this early (for me; I'm a 'winter wuss').

  9. #9
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    Bah ... bloody "Lake effect /smog bubble" no snow here at all ... I ride all year no matter what, but I wanted to test these tires in snow and managed to ride twice in actual snow so far. I'm hoping we get a dump someday soon I want the snow up and over the rims on the street to really get a feel for them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer View Post
    Bah ... bloody "Lake effect /smog bubble" no snow here at all ... I ride all year no matter what, but I wanted to test these tires in snow and managed to ride twice in actual snow so far. I'm hoping we get a dump someday soon I want the snow up and over the rims on the street to really get a feel for them.
    Good on ya -- you're a tougher man than me! I know I should 'embrace' the winter, but hey -- first forty years of life on the Left Coast, I'll never acclimatize. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it!

  11. #11
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    To each their own, and no excuses needed at all!

  12. #12
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    I do a little of both, but I prefer riding out in the country, where there are less or no stoplights and stopsigns. My after-work rides are urban. Weekend rides are usually out in the country.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    The closest I come to avoiding cars is when I go to one of the Metroparks around Detroit. Several of them have miles and miles of roadway inside the parks, where speed limits are 30-35 mph. But we go for speed. We see a lot of weekend warriors there, and anytime we pass one, the race is on!

    My normal riding is out on the back county roads. They're typically chip-seal, no shoulder, no centerline, speed limit 55, but light traffic.

  14. #14
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I do a good bit of what I call piddling around town on my old rigid MTB from time to time. I like exploring neighborhoods and cruising around downtown and near the college campus. Be careful about that impatience at stoplights. You can put yourself into a very dangerous situation where a car driver does not expect what you do. I try to avoid ever riding on a sidewalk.
    My favorite riding is on my road bikes on two lane country roads with light traffic. The only bike I ride with suspension is my full suspension MTB which is strictly for singletrack, trails and an occasional dirt or gravel road. I can't stand riding it on pavement.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  15. #15
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    I do a good bit of what I call piddling around town on my old rigid MTB from time to time. I like exploring neighborhoods and cruising around downtown and near the college campus. Be careful about that impatience at stoplights. You can put yourself into a very dangerous situation where a car driver does not expect what you do. I try to avoid ever riding on a sidewalk.
    Don't worry! I am always looking. I generally will not trust a driver I haven't made eye contact with. Often I have the right of way but have a bad feeling about the driver so I don't assert it. Some parts of the city the traffic is just too crowded and the sidewalk is a haven. I watch all driveways, parking garage exits etc. If somebody is pulling out across the sidewalk I assume they don't see me and act accordingly.

    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    My favorite riding is on my road bikes on two lane country roads with light traffic. The only bike I ride with suspension is my full suspension MTB which is strictly for singletrack, trails and an occasional dirt or gravel road. I can't stand riding it on pavement.
    People think I am nuts for riding around town on full suspension, but I stiffen up the rear quite a bit and don't find that it "pumps' excessively, but yet gives a little more comfort when going over curbs, etc.

    Don in Austin

  16. #16
    tsl
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    Plays in traffic tsl's Avatar
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    I live in the city and work in the city. I have to ride several miles just to *get* to the suburbs. Rural rides don't start for another ten miles beyond that.

    If I didn't love riding in the city, I couldn't live here. And I love riding in the city. It's different everywhere you go.
    • I especially like riding in the heart of downtown in among all the skyscrapers and all the hub bub. I seldom lose SS races (Stoplight-to-Stoplight) against cars there.
    • Riding in da hood can be invigorating. One of the branch libraries I work at is right in the thick of it. On the street, mine is the only white face for blocks. And yet, I feel safer on my bike than I do in a car. Maybe folks just don't know what to make of the crazy old white dude on a bike.
    • Commercial streets are nice, especially the ones in gentrified areas. Two blocks from my apartment is a long, mixed commercial/residential street under towering trees. It's wide, curvy, posted at 25 (but generally cars can only go 20) and being filled with restaurants, bistros and cafés, the scenery is excellent. I love tooling along through there in the nice weather.
    • Industrial areas are a trip too. Generally less traffic, but most of it is big--semis. Pro semi drivers are among the best people with whom to share the road. Because they do. And since semis don't start too fast, it's easier to draft them!
    • Our city has a nice parks system too. You can hardly go a mile without bumping into another park. The MUPs connect several. I can follow one MUP from an outlying park right to the heart of downtown.


    With all that variety, I find suburban and rural riding boring. Don't get me wrong--I like it--but after a few miles, I need to get back to the action.
    Last edited by tsl; 01-22-10 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Comma splice
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  17. #17
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    I LOVE riding in Los Angeles. Although I did this for a long time on my mountain bike with, like Don, skinny tires on my bike, I prefer to explore L.A. on my fixed gear bike, at least when my route is fairly flat.

    For hills, I like my road bike. We have some awesome climbs in the L.A. area. A few years ago I rode 5,000 in 30 miles in the Santa Monica Mountains, just north of my home, where there are some near-15% grades (and some over 20%).

    I love riding Santa Monica Blvd., Melrose Ave, Pico Blvd., Sunset and Hollywood Blvds., San Vicente Blvd., and the streets in and around downtown L.A., Beverly Hills, Culver City, and Santa Monica. I don't mind the traffic, probably because I've been riding bikes on these city streets since I was since I was a kid.

    (And I've got a little story, with pics, about a recent ride, here).

    This post is a natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and are in no way to be considered flaws or defects.

    Icyclist, the blog considered too areodite for bikeforums

  18. #18
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Sometimes when travelling, it's hard to get out of the city. I remember staying in London, in the Earl's Court 'hood. The best I could do for rides was into the West End, and around Hyde Park. I once tried to get to Wimbledon, but got lost, but that's part of the fun. Euro city layouts are completely crazy, but that's what makes them interesting.
    Thanks for the posts about southwest Ontario and LA. I'll be in Hamilton on business in March for a couple of weeks, and I plan to do rides to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Buffalo, and I hope to hell the absence of snow continues! In June I'll be in LA to see their controversial Ring of the Nibelung (the production designed by Achim Freyer), so I am looking forward to exploring LA on my fixie. I was in Pasadena in 2008 and used that trip to ride around the hills to the north of Pasadena.
    Probably the worst urban cycling location ever is Las Vegas. It takes at least an hour to get from The Strip to Red Rocks, and most of the time is spent waiting for the ridiculously long red lights. And the whole town is basically a grid, not interesting at all!

    Luis

  19. #19
    cycling fanatic Ken Brown's Avatar
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    I think I have cycled every street and alley in Toronto. Have also cycled in Manhattan, Miami, Chicago, Montreal, Amsterdam, Vienna, and many others. Cycling is the best way to get around our traffic clogged cities. It is important, however, to be prudent and choose your streets carefully. Although we have the right to cycle on the busy arterials, it is often just plain crazy to do so.

    That said, I prefer the bike paths and rail trails for my recreational cycling, both in the city and in the country.

  20. #20
    RPK
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    I have a very similar riding style. I ride out in the farm country. I try to avoid all the busy roads and occassionally have to pass a tractor. I am just getting into riding at night or early morning in the dark. I don't venture out too much with the lights on though I stay on the roads that I know well. I have one monster hill that I used to avoid, zig-zagging to make it up. Now I go right up and even up-shift a little. I ride for exercise. But I have to say it is the most enjoyable exercise I do.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    I agree with some of the folks above - riding in a city is the best way to explore. I've lived and ridden extensively in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and now Seattle. I also did a bit of riding in Mexico City and London when I lived there.

    Great way to learn your way around, find new neighborhoods, etc.

  22. #22
    a77impala a77impala's Avatar
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    I visit Austin a couple time a year, am here now. I used to ride the Town lake bike path but had a couple bad accidents on it, now I ride
    the side streets and love it. My daughter lives in South Austin and the neighborhood is great, cars move over for me, very few dogs and joggers
    and the scenery is not bad, lots of McMansions. Back home I avoid in town riding like the plague, I head out of town as quick as possible.
    Treks, 79-710, 83-600, 85-420, 87-560, 90-930,92-970, 95-930, 96-930, 1220, LeMonds, 2000 Zurich, 05-Etape, 06-Versailles

  23. #23
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by a77impala View Post
    I visit Austin a couple time a year, am here now. I used to ride the Town lake bike path but had a couple bad accidents on it,
    Town lake is awfully congested on the west side. And there are oblivious walkers wtih dogs at full leash extension. If you go east to Longhorn Dam its not crowded at all. There are lots of other park trails not so congested.

    Quote Originally Posted by a77impala View Post
    now I ride
    the side streets and love it. My daughter lives in South Austin and the neighborhood is great, cars move over for me, very few dogs and joggers
    and the scenery is not bad, lots of McMansions. Back home I avoid in town riding like the plague, I head out of town as quick as possible.
    Would you promise to look me up next time you are in Austin? I would be happy to show you the good rides I have found. PM me before your next visit.

  24. #24
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    When I encounter a red light..................aw nevermind.

  25. #25
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    I applaud those of you who have the fortitude to ride in highly congested urban areas. I gave up riding on the roads when living in the D.C. area and limited my bike rides to bike trails. I got as far away from congestion (and stressed-out, aggressive urbanites) as I could when I retired. Once the unimproved roads are passable again I'll head back to my favorite spot to cycle--the forest.

    372157879.jpg

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