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Old 11-03-12, 06:43 AM   #1
chefisaac
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Paths versus Roads

I am not asking this question from a safety stand point.

What are your feelings about touring on roads versus paths (like C&O or GAP for example)? Do you find that paths are less interesting versus roads? Or????

A lot of people here ride (not tour) a bike path in Philly. I like to see it at different times of the year but find it comes somewhat mindless. One way, one direction, once choice.

Whats your thoughts?
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Old 11-03-12, 06:52 AM   #2
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I would ride paths if I had them!
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Old 11-03-12, 07:45 AM   #3
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Depends on the path and the road. Riding the path can bring you closer to nature if that's your thing and many roads, think central Illinois or eastern Colorado can be very boring. Just depends on the particulars, but overall, I like the rail to trails and such.
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Old 11-03-12, 07:59 AM   #4
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I like both paths and country roads with little traffic, like these, from my latest tour:



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Old 11-03-12, 08:25 AM   #5
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I typically prefer to ride on the roads, but there are some nice paths that I have used, like one along the river in Denver and the ones in the Frisco Breckenridge area. The notion of a tour all on a bike path like the GAP, Katy, or similar does not especially appeal to me and I definitely do not go out of my way to ride them when on road tours. Bike packing with a mountain bike on dirt roads and trails is fun though.

That is all purely personal preference though.
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Old 11-03-12, 09:23 AM   #6
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Both depending on the situation.

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Old 11-03-12, 09:48 AM   #7
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chefisaac, Paths are few and far in between in my area. For the most part those that we have are a bit more interesting scenery wise compared to a developed road. While my touring bike works just fine along most unpaved paths, there are a couple of unmaintained paths that my rack equipped mountain bike is the better choice.

My opinion is if there are paths along a route, they should be considered. On the other hand it's often impossible for someone in unfamiliar settings to know how suitable the path could be.

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Old 11-03-12, 09:55 AM   #8
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This spring in Belgium they run a race from Ghent, to Wavelgem , near Kortrijk.

but I followed a Navigational canal that nearly connected the 2, starting in Kortrijk,
and it was a casual cruise between them.
tow path was also much shorter
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Old 11-03-12, 09:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
I am not asking this question from a safety stand point.

What are your feelings about touring on roads versus paths (like C&O or GAP for example)? Do you find that paths are less interesting versus roads? Or????

A lot of people here ride (not tour) a bike path in Philly. I like to see it at different times of the year but find it comes somewhat mindless. One way, one direction, once choice.

Whats your thoughts?
You might be over-thinking this. Local paths that you use often are very different from something that you've never ridden before. I use local paths on a regular basis and they have become more of a means to an end rather than a destination. On tour, it's very different. A path or a road are something I've never seen before. They have their own air of excitement and are, thus, less mindless.

That said, paths tend to have their issues. Most of them are off the beaten path so finding food and lodging services are more difficult. In the age of the stupid smart phone , that is less an issue to find them than it was 5 to 10 years ago. Lodging and food may, however be several miles off the path which presents its own problem.

I will also say that there are certain roads that can become mindless in their own right. The Natchez Trace comes to mind. It's lovely for about 50 miles. But after I've seen a million trees, my prairie developed sense of space starts to rebel and I want to see a vista...any vista. But all you can see is trees...with the occasional sign that says something like "Johnson's Corner Store was built on the site in 1797 but burned to the ground in 1815 and the foundation was carried off by locals." All that is left is trees.

Because the Trace is a national park, it has no advertising for nearby services. There could be towns within feet of the road and you'd never know. It's only when you get off the Trace that stuff gets interesting. From what little I've ridden of the C&O (out to the Great Falls of the Potomac), it's very similar. Carry a smart phone
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Old 11-03-12, 12:36 PM   #10
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But after I've seen a million trees, my prairie developed sense of space starts to rebel and I want to see a vista...any vista. But all you can see is trees...
That is kind of funny to me since I tend to be the opposite. I get really happy when I get back to trees and mountain streams. I know that the three of us on the Trans America all got a big lift when we got to ride in wooded areas after a stretch of open country. It is especially bad for me when in addition to there being no trees everything is brown. I have to say I hated most of the scenery on the southern tier and the parts I remember being nice were wooded and/or wetter. I try to just enjoy the food and the people when the scenery doesn't suit me, but it was a harder to do on the ST.

For me if there aren't trees or streams with water in them, it does help if there are at least mountains.
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Old 11-03-12, 02:40 PM   #11
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Road.





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Old 11-03-12, 02:46 PM   #12
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chefisaac, Paths are few and far in between in my area. For the most part those that we have are a bit more interesting scenery wise compared to a developed road. While my touring bike works just fine along most unpaved paths, there are a couple of unmaintained paths that my rack equipped mountain bike is the better choice. My opinion is if there are paths along a route, they should be considered. On the other hand it's often impossible for someone in unfamiliar settings to know how suitable the path could be. Brad
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Old 11-03-12, 03:47 PM   #13
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^^^^
The guy in front is going to get clobbered by a wide load semi.

+1 All trees is boring. ie Northern Michigan in June.
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Old 11-03-12, 03:56 PM   #14
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I like both. There are many paths here, some better than others. Some are boring straight lines through tree tunnels but the roads close by aren't any more interesting so I'll choose the paths as they're more quiet. Engine noise drives me nuts sometimes. Some paths go where roads don't. I also like that it makes more people bike.

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Old 11-03-12, 04:04 PM   #15
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It depends. Roads are usually more direct, so if you want to get where you're going faster, you're better off on the road. You also have more of a chance of finding stores and restaurants, if you're on the road.
Paths are nice, more relaxing, pretty, no traffic to deal with. But usually meander more, and the surface may not be consistant. I like to do a mix of both, if possible.
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Old 11-03-12, 04:08 PM   #16
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I like both. There are many paths here, some better than others. Some are boring straight lines through tree tunnels but the roads close by aren't any more interesting so I'll choose the paths as they're more quiet. Engine noise drives me nuts sometimes. Some paths go where roads don't. I also like that it makes more people bike.

Are all of those photos from the same trip, Eric? Looks great! Quebec really is amazing for cycling.
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Old 11-03-12, 04:35 PM   #17
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'It depends' for me, too. Some paths, say in urban areas on a nice weekend, seem more dangerous than nearby roads due to kids, dogs, etc. When I lived in Seattle, I would avoid the Burke-Gilman trail, for instance. When touring in an unknown area, I often avoid the paths if the road is OK. I've had to backtrack because of bridge washouts, deep fords, soft gravel, downed trees, failed surfaces, etc. The path maintenance is not always as good as on the roads. But I loved cycling the Erie Canal trail on my recent Northern Tier ride. It was a highlight.
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Old 11-04-12, 09:30 AM   #18
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I find that paths such as the GAP C&O and the portion of the Erie Canal that I rode to be great to ride on. These trail towns (for the most part) are numerous and have plenty of food/lodging opportunities and points of interest. I've rode from Cleveland to Cinci twice for charity and I saw a lot of corn.

The GAP has some awesome vistas and camping/lodging is near the trail.
The C&O is full of history and camping is free all along the trail. The towns are right on these trails as the GAP is a rail trail and the C&O a canal.
We just came back from a combined road/trail ride in NY and I will say it was easier to get food and a cold beer while riding the trail.

I have no problem riding on the road, most of my shorter trips have been on road but it is nice to be away from cars. I would definitely avoid the weekender fitness type trails though. Do some research and you can find some great trail riding.

I highly recommend the GAPCO, I've done it a couple of times.
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Old 11-04-12, 09:38 AM   #19
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That is kind of funny to me since I tend to be the opposite. I get really happy when I get back to trees and mountain streams. I know that the three of us on the Trans America all got a big lift when we got to ride in wooded areas after a stretch of open country. It is especially bad for me when in addition to there being no trees everything is brown. I have to say I hated most of the scenery on the southern tier and the parts I remember being nice were wooded and/or wetter. I try to just enjoy the food and the people when the scenery doesn't suit me, but it was a harder to do on the ST.

For me if there aren't trees or streams with water in them, it does help if there are at least mountains.
I'm the same. I grew up in the dense forests of the Deep South and I get a bit "agoraphobic" in too much open space.
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Old 11-04-12, 10:06 AM   #20
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Are all of those photos from the same trip, Eric? Looks great! Quebec really is amazing for cycling.
All different trips although the first two are in the same area.

I've had the idea of making a 900km continuous trip on paths (mostly). I doubt it'll never happen since I've biked all of them and will bike some again on shorter trips.
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Old 11-04-12, 10:10 AM   #21
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All different trips although the first two are in the same area.

I've had the idea of making a 900km continuous trip on paths (mostly). I doubt it'll never happen since I've biked all of them and will bike some again on shorter trips.
Cool!
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Old 11-04-12, 12:47 PM   #22
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I grew up riding roads, and whenever available, shoulders on roads. And that is still my preference. Give me a quiet road with wide shoulders and that's just perfect. But a very quiet road out in the middle of the country, even without shoulders, is good too.

And having ridden MUPs in various parts of Canada, I developed a strong dislike of MUPs ... too many things going on ... pedestrians, roller bladers, dogs, children, elderly people just standing in the middle of the path ...


However, we have ridden some paths in Europe and some of them have been quite good. The tow path up the Marne canal/river in France was lovely. The bit of the path that we rode along the Moselle was very nice. Parts of the Rhine route were good. And the Velodyssey route, up the west coast of France, was great.



So I guess the answer is ... it depends.
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Old 11-04-12, 02:07 PM   #23
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Paths often have more trees which are better wind shelter on windy days. If they are along an old rail route, flatter but not all trails stay on an old rail route and some trails can have very steep segments.



Roads, some have good shoulders and some have shoulders that are pretty narrow. Also, roads have ubiquitous broken glass and little bits of wire make me more nervous about how long I will still have air in my tires.



I have ridden some roads with almost no traffic that were very pleasant, but some roads have the kind of traffic that raise my stress and blood pressure.
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Old 11-04-12, 06:52 PM   #24
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I enjoy paths and roads but i prefer paths if possible.
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Old 11-04-12, 07:57 PM   #25
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I'm with Machka. Here, give me roads. Over there, I'll take it if it isn't gravel. The European tertiary roads we've ridden were great. They pave everything except for a few bike paths over there. It's great. No potholes that I saw, just well maintained and clean roads. I found the tendency to lay cobblestones in intersections to be a little strange, but otherwise biking was great. Here, I can see why some people flee to the MUPs, but I also think them too dangerous. I want roads with rules.
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