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  1. #1
    Junior Member apsheehan's Avatar
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    How do you find good rides (50+ miles)?

    What is the best way to find good routes to ride? There are some resources online, but they all seem really scattershot. Is there something that I am missing? Any recommendations? I just like want a site or a book that has a list of 50 of the best rides where I know there won't be too much traffic or I won't hit a dead-end into a highway or something.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member danmc's Avatar
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    If I'm looking for something different sometimes I just open up Google maps. I also use mapmyrides and strava to look at regions and see areas that are hilly since I enjoy hilly and scenic rides. Of course you don't get descriptions of the rides and what I'm interested in besides the elevations are the conditions of the roads and if they have heavy traffic. If there's a particular region you're interested in riding in you can try posting on the regional forums here. I've done that asking about the riding conditions in places that I thought of visiting.

  3. #3
    Junior Member apsheehan's Avatar
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    Makes sense. Thanks for the advice. I sometimes get lost daydreaming in Google Maps too easily, hoping for a curated list of the best rides. Otherwise I find myself planning a ride through the Pyrenees on Google Maps instead.

  4. #4
    Senior Member danmc's Avatar
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    I had asked for description of rides in and around Allegany State Park here in NY and got only one response. I decided to go based upon that one response and then posted a detailed description of my ride. There's also a thread about rides in the Finger Lakes region where I grew up and there's a good book I link to there. I wish people would use the regional threads more for this purpose, because I totally understand looking for long rides and then getting stuck on crappy roads with heavy traffic!

    mapmyrides is a good source because you can see areas where people ride a lot, and you can infer from that that the roads must be good otherwise people wouldn't keep riding there. I did this recently and found a really interesting place to ride not far from where I live, just south of Batavia around the Carlton Hill State Forest which I had never even heard of. I saw that people had posted some hilly rides around that area and drove there for a ride a couple of weeks ago and it ended up being a really good place to ride.
    Last edited by danmc; 08-01-13 at 02:47 PM.

  5. #5
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    I've got a few of those kind of books for where I live, but they age very quickly as areas get developed. My advice is to check out a site like RideWithGPS.com and search around you for rides in the distance range you want. You can also check out clubs in your area. Many bike clubs have decent websites and post regular routes. You can also try out a club ride; a road that seems intimidating by yourself can be more inviting when you're part of a group of cyclists.
    Public accountability: my Beeminder weight loss graph.

  6. #6
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    This is gonna make me sound like a crotchety old fart.

    Tough.

    When I was a kid, I got on my bike and rode out in whatever direction my whims took me. It is how I learned about the terrain and neighborhoods of the greater NY area. When I found a ride I liked, I'd do it again, usually with variations. The terrain hasn't changed much in the last 40 years, but the bad neighborhoods are for the most part vastly safer than they used to be. Traffic's generally worse now than it used to be, but staying off the main thoroughfares helps a lot. If you hit a dead end its no big deal: turn around. Getting lost is no big deal either. You got your smart phone, lots of people to ask: you gotta be really talented to get really lost!

    Take a few chances. Barring disasters, any ride is better than no ride.
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  7. #7
    Telemark! TeleJohn's Avatar
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    Your local cycling clubs may have maps of ride routes.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeleJohn View Post
    Your local cycling clubs may have maps of ride routes.
    As well as cue sheets.

    There are also maps from the state Dept. of Transportations. NY has a decent one for Long Island, as example.

    I started out by using a map that the Nassau County (NY) DoT had generated (and that's been out of print for 20+ years sadly), that had many of the local roads highlighted in colors (Red, Yellow, Blue, Green) for appropriateness and safety. I started with that. This was maybe 6 years before I had a home computer (so '89) and long before Google maps.

    Then I started riding with what was eventually two different roadie clubs, whose institutional memories taught me what were the "good" roads and what were the bad. Many of these coincided with the county map and now the state map, though the maps are less detailed.

    I've never found Google all that useful, but to a newbie, it becomes one of the tools. MapMyRide likewise is useful, though I found it amazing to see how many folks ride poor roads when there are better choices adjacent or nearby, so that's a hit/miss.

    Bottom line though it to get on the bike and just ride and explore. Bikes are good for that.
    Last edited by Steve B.; 08-02-13 at 08:09 AM.

  9. #9
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    This Strava Ride Heatmap is interesting. It colors in the roads that are on a lot of Strava ride recordings. Blue is fairly popular, red is very popular.

    But Strava has a high proportion of bike racer types. And there are a lot more of them near cities, so routes near cities have much more usage. In my area, some of those commonly used roads aren't very good for bikes, but they are feeder roads to get out to the country, or are part of a 30,40, or 50 mile loop used for training. The heat map misses a ton of good bike roads, especially out away from cities.

    It's well designed and worth browsing, but be skeptical.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Find other rider's routes on ridewithgps.com, use the Search-->Bike Rides. Put in a starting location, a max starting distance from there, and adjust the minimum and maximum ride distance sliders.

    It finds some very nice routes, and some boring or too-busy-street routes, too.

    I use ridewithgps to draw routes. I usually switch to Terrain view, and occasionally to satellite view, zoomed way in. ridewithgps updates it's elevation graph on the fly, and it's undo-redo buttons make trying alternative roads very easy.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 08-02-13 at 08:44 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Malemute_Kid's Avatar
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    i second the advice above of "just get out and start riding". it also helps to find a few riding buddies. it is fun to ride with friends and they can show you their favorite routes. after you have been riding around for awhile you will find your own routes you like.

  11. #11
    Senior Member blacknbluebikes's Avatar
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    I've started to have some success with MapMyRide.com and the "Route Genius." Recently introduced, still needs some dev work, but not bad at all. Analogous to iTune's "Playlist Genius," it takes a few parameters (eg: start location, desired ride distance, starting direction) and generates a suggested route, which you can then send to your smartphone client app and take on the road.

    Again, it's fairly new and needs some "evolution," but I've used it a couple of times with success. Be aware that there is a LOT about your local region that MMR server doesn't know, and you'll have to take a critical eye to the suggested route before you just go out and do it. For example: "no, that route 22 is NOT bike friendly." or "No, that part of that city is no place for a skinny guy in lycra." I've also used the Route Genius with success in more rural areas.

  12. #12
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    I use RidewithGPS.com a lot for planning as its elevation tool helps pick some flatter routes. I save the routes I create here for later access.

    Then there is http://www.flattestroute.com/ , plug in the start and finish points, choose BIKING and see what it tells you. I use it in conjunction with RideWithGPS. FlattestRoute will sometimes point out routes that may not be obvious but sometimes avoid the many hills we have here in the Ozarks.

    Finally I use Google maps too, I zoom in to make sure the roads are paved - I ended up on a cow path once because I didn't check. Street View is cool when it's available.

    If it's a questionable route I usually scout it out in the car as well. Sometimes things change between Google maps updates, other times I scope out which route will be the best out of several alternates.

    And finally, JUST DO IT. Decide where you want to go and go on an adventure. This is tough sometimes because you might end up faced with a busy highway and a lot of motor traffic. But hey, life IS an adventure sometimes

  13. #13
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    finding routes in advantage and trying to stay on course is hard for me. I take a look at a road map of my area and come up with some ideas then go out. after a few times I develop some regular routes that I can remember. I like to have a few to choose from 20 mile, 30mile and up.

    It's fun to get a little lost but you should carry a road map and have some general idea of what directions you want to go.

    I guess you can do some scouting with a car too. But I think local riders / clubs / bike shops might have some recommendations. It doesn't mean you have to ride with them.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  14. #14
    Senior Member gabedad's Avatar
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Another plug for just pointing the bike in a direction and riding. That's how I discovered the Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline, which I now ride every year.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    finding routes in advantage and trying to stay on course is hard for me. I take a look at a road map of my area and come up with some ideas then go out. after a few times I develop some regular routes that I can remember. I like to have a few to choose from 20 mile, 30mile and up.

    It's fun to get a little lost but you should carry a road map and have some general idea of what directions you want to go.

    I guess you can do some scouting with a car too. But I think local riders / clubs / bike shops might have some recommendations. It doesn't mean you have to ride with them.
    +1 for paper maps. I live in the Boston area, as does rumrunn6, and my favorite map is the Metropolitan Boston map issued by the American Autombile Association (AAA). I have also used their maps for other cities to. I find the scale of these maps sufficient to cover a wide area, even to plot centuries, yet detailed enough to show nice cycling roads.

    Metro Boston roads are quite confusing, and such a map is necessary. GPS would be nice for detailed directions, but I like the panoramic view of a paper map without zooming in and out. I always get lost though on new routes. Nonetheless, I have learned so much geography of the region, that when I occasionally get into a traffic jam on a freeway, I can get off and find a surface route around the jam.

    Most of my long rides are for Century-training with a specified mileage. To roughly plan a ride (a loop) from my house, I have drawn arcs on the map centered on my house in all directions, representing distances of 10, 20 and 30 miles. So I can estimate how far out to ride and return to accomplish my goal.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    I have found google maps and mapmyride very helpful as on mapmyride you can look at different routes people made near you, check them out in google maps street view (this takes a while) and see if its something that seems fun, safe, and whatever skill level you are looking for.

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