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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 04-19-06, 03:48 AM   #1
castaway
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What are the distinct features of riding where you live?

Since forum members are located all around the world, I thought it might be interesting to share what we consider to be the distinctive features (positive or negative) of riding in the places where we live. Comparing notes might even generate some good ideas. I live in Japan. Here goes:

1. Lots of hills, some with very steep grades.
2. Vending machines everywhere (usually selling sports drinks, “Pocari Sweat” being the most famous). When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere, even remote mountain roads.
3. Public urination widely practiced; there are public facilities, and every convenience store makes its toilets available. But in a pinch it’s good to know that this practice is not only not a crime, it is custom.
4. Mirrors: roads here are often too narrow to allow two-way traffic. Mirrors are placed at most curves so that you can see on-coming vehicles.
5. Banners and flags: There are dozens of banners outside nearly every store, gas station, pachinko parlor, etc., making it easy to gauge wind direction and intensity.
6. Metric system: Sometimes it sounds better to say you rode for 40 km as opposed to 25 miles. (But then 800 meters climb doesn’t sound as impressive as 2,600 feet when describing a climb.)
7. No one ever gives the finger: First of all, if someone were to flip the bird, you really couldn’t be sure that he knew what it meant. But drivers are generally less hostile toward cyclists, probably because more people ride bikes to go to school, work, grocery shopping…
8. Cable channel shows repeats of major races
9. Poseurs galore. If you’re into dressing the part, you’ll have lots of company. USPostal was extremely popular; now it’s Discovery (Beppu Fumi effect?)
10. Dogs don’t chase. While this happens regularly to me back home, I’ve never been chased by a Japanese dog (running or cycling). They just don’t do it.
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Old 04-19-06, 05:14 AM   #2
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Washington, DC - Former Swamp Land and US Capital ...

1) Planned streets - mostly logical, several with dedicated bike lanes for commutes
2) Lots of MUPs (multiuse paths) for joggers, stollers, cyclists
3) Several great rides - touring the monuments, training at the 3.2mile Haines Point loop (traffic always light), or hitting the MUPs for some rides into the suburbs.
4) 15 miles away (drivable or subway accessible) are many great 40 mile+ routes of all types (rollers, hills, flats)
5) In the city limits, a bike shop at least every 10 miles.
6) Large bike owning population - but not much unity ... critical mass rides doesn't generate a big number compared to other cities.
7) Mostly concisenous drivers, though every day at least one seems to pull into the bike lane cutting me off.
8) Potomac Pedalers put on a ton of great rides
9) Related to once being a swamp, severe allergens, which have even affected those who've never had the before in their lives - take your pill before the day starts
10) Bikes are allowed in the pedestrian only area behind the White House
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Old 04-19-06, 06:11 AM   #3
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Upstate New York.
Roads that seem to go on forever with rolling hills
Drivers are laid back and for the most part give plenty of space when passing.
In the fall you get the best scenery for an epic ride.
Charming backroad diners and veggie stands in the summer.
The few bike shops around are top notch.
Saratoga race track, whats better then riding to the track then off for a beerbq
Friendly riders, almost always get a nice day hows it going from people.
Programs like recycle a bike.
And its just a nice place to live and ride
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Old 04-19-06, 06:22 AM   #4
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Ewing New Jersey:

Positives:

1) Surprisingly courteous drivers
2) Fairly wide main roads
3) Close to scenic rural roads, both here in NJ and across the river in PA.
4) When I don't feel like going out on the roads, the local college is a perfect 1 1/2 mile loop...plus this
time of year all of the girls are out and scantily clad....woo hoooo!!!
5) The Delaware/Raritan Canal Towpath
6) The NJ Transit RiverLine train had bike racks in each car.
7) Three nice LBSs nearby (but I dont really care for one of them)
8) Hills if you like them, plenty of flat roads if you don't (hills are not my friend yet)
9) Faherty's on Rte 29 southbound, next to the Wash-Xing bridge on the Delaware
10) My local (Firkin Tavern) lets me bring my bike inside when I am there. (Big Kudos here!!!)
11) Bike racks on NJ Transit buses (great for skipping some of the bad neighbourhoods when I ride home
at night during the winter).

Negatives:

1) Well of course since it is New Jersey....crowded roads
2) Not many other roadies to hook up with
3) Not alot of local clubs
4) Trucks allowed on country roads
5) Some bad neighbourhoods that I commute through
6) Cops that question me when I am on my bike...like the bike is stolen (I started a thread about this last
season).
7) Too many yahoos riding the wrong way, against traffic
8) Even more on the sidewalks
9) Wachovia dropped its sponsorship of the Pro cycling series, so no more Trenton Race (Huge bummer!!)
10) Very few bike commuters.
11) Very few bike-friendly businesses

Cheers,

Brian
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Old 04-19-06, 07:36 AM   #5
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New York City

The bad:

1. Taxi cab drivers shout friendly reminders such as "up yours!" and "get on the sidewalk!" - of course it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk...
2. Car traffic is bumper-to-bumper, although it only moves at 5mph during rush hours
3. Can take your bike on subway 24/7, assuming you can actually negotiate your bike through the turnstiles...
4. Plenty 'o broken glass on the roads
5. Potholes galore!
6. During the winter salt on the roads can be used to replenish the salt you lose through sweating, of course it also eats away the metal and paint on your frame...
7. Local bike shops have conveniently added the "New York City Premium" to the full retail price of every item they sell
8. No place to work on your bike when you live in a 300 sq ft studio apartment
9. Paying frighteningly-high rent for your 300 sq ft studio apartment eliminates having to spend extra cash on bike stuff

The good:
1. Central Park is closed to car traffic in the morning and evenings, making it an excellent place to ride before and/or after work
2. Can easily cross to New Jersey from Manhattan via GW Bridge and (almost) instantly have access to hundreds of miles of surrounding nearly-rural roads
3. Lots of nice hills
4. Beautiful scenery in the fall/spring/summer
5. Big cycling community with lots of clubs for racing and training
6. If you can negotiate NYC traffic, you can ride anywhere - nothing else will scare you
7. Can take bikes on Metro North and LIRR trains for far-reaching epic rides
8. Can commute to just about anywhere in the city by bicycle
9. Don't need to own a car
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Old 04-19-06, 08:04 AM   #6
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Tallahassee, FL and South Georgia

The bad:
It's hot
It's humid

The good:
Canopy roads where the live oaks on both sides of the road create a canopy over the road.
Wide variety of riding. Dead flat south of town with rolling hills to the north.
Generally well-paved roads
Polite, courteous drivers
Country roads within a few miles of downtown
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Old 04-19-06, 08:10 AM   #7
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Hills
Wind in the River Valleys
Hills

Low traffic (mostly)
Great Scenery (Hills and River Valleys)
Great Local Cycling Community
Great LBS
Historic Small Town Architecture and "charm"
I can easily ride 75 miles (maybe 100?) and not see a stop light
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Old 04-19-06, 08:12 AM   #8
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Nebraska. Howling wind.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:18 AM   #9
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Good:
Gentle rolling terrain with the occasional short, steep pitch.
Easy to find quiet roads tucked away in the countryside.
Lots of trees and shade.

Bad:
In the summr it gets hot and very humid.
The road surface can be of varying quality.
Unpredictable weather.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:19 AM   #10
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Marquette, Mi

The Bad:
Snow from October to April (sometimes longer)

The Good:
Awesome rolling hills (great training)
Located right on Lake Superior for beatiful views
Many quiet highways
Curteous drivers
Bike shops that know who you are
A dedicated community to biking
Nice roads
Cool races in the summer and early fall
Other very strong riders willing to help anytime
An old car track that can be used for track games
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Old 04-19-06, 08:21 AM   #11
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Piedmont region of North Carolina
Pros:
Good rollers.
Decent climbs.
Light traffic on the outskirts of the county.
Group rides always available.

Cons:
Hot and humid.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:30 AM   #12
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Northern California (okay, damn near Oregon):

Good and bad (your call):

Windy (20 to 70 mph at times)
4 seasons (meaning freezing cold in the winter and hot as hell in the summer)
Lots and lots of roads, all in good shape and most with out any traffic
Ranch dogs
lots and lots of hills
No having to drive to rides.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:31 AM   #13
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About 30 miles west of Boston

The good:
1) Every type of terrain imaginable is somewhere nearby. Central New England is non-stop rolling hills and usually isn't very windy. I can be at the ocean in about an hour for dead flat (and wind). I can be in the mountains in about two hours for lung busting / leg breaking climbs

2) So long as you don't head inside Rt. 128 (or onto Cape Cod...), car traffic really isn't all that heavy. Not necessarily very corteous, but I really don't have a problem. There really are a lot of quiet windy country roads that most drivers don't seem to realize exist.

3) Lots of local clubs = lots of rides.

4) The weather. There's only a handful of days that get over 90 degrees each summer. It's usually pretty pleasant. If it's too hot, the mountains or the ocean are usually cooler.

5) Autumn. Leaf-peeping season was invented by New Englanders.

The bad:
1) Winter. I've seen it snow every month from October to May. There's usually a LOT of road salt around until they get around to clearing it off (usually sometime in August). The sun rises late and sets early. Frost heaves are a way of life. It's usually not as epically cold as it's made out to be, but when it gets cold, it is very very cold.

But then again, I put the bike away in the winter and go skiing. Take the good and leave the bad for somebody else.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:34 AM   #14
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Another thing about NYC is that due to the way the subways/bus lines were built, and due to the horrendous car traffic, riding your bike is often the fastest way to get around (period!)
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Old 04-19-06, 08:34 AM   #15
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East-central Illinois (Mahomet):

It's flat. Really flat. The largest hills occur where the road goes over a highway. Did I mention that it's flat?

Strong winds are not uncommon, particularly in the afternoons.

Very high humidity in the summer, and the winters can be extremely cold. Riding on summer afternoons is not a lot of fun, but summer mornings and any time in the spring or autumn is very enjoyable.

There are country roads that are largely untraveled. They form a grid of one-mile squares, except where some natural barrier such as a river or a lake disrupts the grid. The quality of the roads aren't great, but some aren't too bad, either. You can ride for hours and hours and not see more than five cars the whole time. I've never had a problem with an unfriendly driver.

There are small towns every so often, mostly along railroad lines, with populations of 500 to 5000. The usually have a few gas stations, a few restaurants, a few bars, a few churches, a large park in the middle of town, and any number of houses with tree-lined streets. The smallest towns only have a gas station and a church.

The land is all corn or beans. You can see for miles and miles. The blue sky above you is immense. On summer afternoons, there are archipelagos of cumulus clouds that stretch over the horizon. In late summer and autumn, you will see wild morning glories that have grown up and twisted their way around the corn stalks so that you can ride for miles and see violet, blue, and purple flowers for yards into the corn field. It has a kind of austere beauty the I really enjoy, but I think some people would get tired of it quickly.

The University of Illinois is quite close to where I live, so there are lots of things close by that you wouldn't normally see in the Midwest, such as lots of ethnic shops and restaurants. There are also two local bike clubs - one for racers and one for more casual cyclists.

If I want, I can put my bike in the back of our car when we drive down to my father-in-law's farm, and all the hills I could want are a twenty-minute ride from there.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:34 AM   #16
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Virginia Beach:
-Totally flat
-Cars travel ~ 35 mph in residential areas and 50+ mph everywhere else
-Rednecks in monster trucks with racist bumper stickers
-navy recruits who think they are street racers
-most roads are well maintained and well lit
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Old 04-19-06, 08:38 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by castaway
Since forum members are located all around the world, I thought it might be interesting to share what we consider to be the distinctive features (positive or negative) of riding in the places where we live. Comparing notes might even generate some good ideas. I live in Japan. Here goes:

1. Lots of hills, some with very steep grades.
2. Vending machines everywhere (usually selling sports drinks, “Pocari Sweat” being the most famous). When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere, even remote mountain roads.
3. Public urination widely practiced; there are public facilities, and every convenience store makes its toilets available. But in a pinch it’s good to know that this practice is not only not a crime, it is custom.
4. Mirrors: roads here are often too narrow to allow two-way traffic. Mirrors are placed at most curves so that you can see on-coming vehicles.
5. Banners and flags: There are dozens of banners outside nearly every store, gas station, pachinko parlor, etc., making it easy to gauge wind direction and intensity.
6. Metric system: Sometimes it sounds better to say you rode for 40 km as opposed to 25 miles. (But then 800 meters climb doesn’t sound as impressive as 2,600 feet when describing a climb.)
7. No one ever gives the finger: First of all, if someone were to flip the bird, you really couldn’t be sure that he knew what it meant. But drivers are generally less hostile toward cyclists, probably because more people ride bikes to go to school, work, grocery shopping…
8. Cable channel shows repeats of major races
9. Poseurs galore. If you’re into dressing the part, you’ll have lots of company. USPostal was extremely popular; now it’s Discovery (Beppu Fumi effect?)
10. Dogs don’t chase. While this happens regularly to me back home, I’ve never been chased by a Japanese dog (running or cycling). They just don’t do it
.
You must be somewhere near me.
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Old 04-19-06, 08:42 AM   #18
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Dallas area texas.

Mostly flat with wind (always).

rednecks in trucks more myth than fact, sure
we have em but not as bad as others would have
you believe.
The true hazard are the soccer mom's in 3 ton SUVs

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Old 04-19-06, 08:50 AM   #19
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SLC, Utah

Positives:
-Wide variety of terrain, from fairly flat to 5000+ foot climbs.
-Fairly reasonable drivers, where I live anyway. Haven't had things thrown at me from cars, and few nasty remarks.
-Beautiful scenery.
-Attempts have been made to create bike lanes.
-Quite a few cyclists around, especially when the weather turns nice. Mostly friendly, even OCPers!
-C-stores somewhat available for longer, unsupported rides, unless you're in the canyons or out in the sticks.
-Good variety of LBSs.
-Good routes available if you (or someone you ride with) know where you're going.
-Sometimes you can ride through most of the winter.
-Other cyclists tend to stop and ask if you need help if it looks like something's wrong, especially if you're kitted out. I think they may think it's Dave Z. again with a double flat.

Negatives:
-5000+ foot climbs.
-A lot of the bike lanes are kind of an afterthought, and tend to just end at a busy intersection.
-Riding in the canyons is pretty risky, with narrow-to-non-existent bike lanes. Owing to a couple of recent accidents involving cyclists, driver awareness seems to have increased, along with "Share The Road" signs, etc.
-Sometimes winter weather makes riding difficult or impossible.
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Old 04-19-06, 09:32 AM   #20
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Northeastern CT

The Good:

- Lots of rolling hills, which can be relentless at times.....not to mention steep.
- Courteous drivers
- Easy to find main routes with little traffic only a few miles from my house
- Bike shop is under 3 miles from my house

The Bad:

- Lots of rolling hills, which can be relentless at times.....not to mention steep.
- Don't really have much in the way of flat roads
- No real bike lanes on the roads, and the white line on the edges can be very narrow in parts
- Quality of road pavement varies; typically not the nice, really fast and smooth blacktop anywhere
- Amount of sand they lay down in the wintertime is insane, and makes riding around here nearly impossible during that period
- The wind can (and will) come at you from any direction due to the neverending small hills and valleys
- This spring seems to be particularly windy - would give anything for a day with no wind
- Lots of road patching leads to some heavy hits on the frame/wheels
- Winter
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Old 04-19-06, 09:38 AM   #21
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Houston:
suckage
suckage
suckage
suckage
more suckage
most suckage
and oh yeah suckage








Did i mention suckage?
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Old 04-19-06, 09:42 AM   #22
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Location: Southeastern Lower Michigan, USA.

Mostly flat with some rolling terrain here and there, narrow sholders on the roads (gotta ride the white line), potholes and cracked, rough pavement everywhere, tons of debris on the roadside, impatient drivers, not at all biker friendly. Gotta be really committed to cycle here . But we are the warriors of the north.

Best time of year to ride is Autumn. The colors are beautiful and the weather cooler. Lets me forget what a crappy cycling area I live in. I visited my sister just outside of Seattle a couple years ago and THAT was a terrific place to ride!
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Old 04-19-06, 09:45 AM   #23
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Toledo/Sylvania OH

The Bad:
1. Flat. Very flat.
2. It's always windy. Once I get into the country it's all fields and there's nothing to block the wind.
3. I hate winter. I'd love to be somewhere warm and hilly.

The Good:
1. Bike trails and bike lanes are good enough to get you out of town and into the empty country roads.
2. The roads are suprisingly smooth for country roads.
3. There's not much traffic on those roads, either.
4. Dogs are almost always chained up or fenced in.
5. There's a pretty good group of guys around here with a nice ride schedule.

It looks like the good outweighs the bad, but I put more weight on the flat terrain and crappy winter weather than anything else. Once I get my MA (next year) I'm going to the Peace Corps, and after that I'll be moving south somewhere.
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Old 04-19-06, 09:48 AM   #24
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amsterdam/noord holland

good

1. roads are flat
2. 10 kms and you're in the countryside
3. bike paths
4. winters are generally mild (at least not insanely cold, only 20-30°F)
5. drivers are courteous
6. lots of other cyclists out there
7. summer time means that there's light until 10-11PM

bad

1. flat roads
2. bike paths (hate them actually, the crowd you in, you have to share them with scooters, and cars like to park in them)
3. spring starts in june. summer last about a week. fall starts in august.
4. too much street furniture, which has caused a few too many crashes when riders are maxing out,and someone doesn't call it out.
5. too many Freds wanting to wheel suck
6. winter days mean sunrise at 9AM and sunset around 4PM
7. the wind, the wind, and the wind
8. no trees to hide from the wind
9. the rain, forgot to mention the rain.
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Old 04-19-06, 09:49 AM   #25
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Echo Park:

hills
cholos
art galleries
$6 hair cuts
taco trucks
$50 hair cuts
potholes
coffee joints
mango vendors
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