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My riding experience is foreign to you, yours is to me too

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My riding experience is foreign to you, yours is to me too

Old 08-27-20, 06:57 AM
  #1  
sd5782 
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My riding experience is foreign to you, yours is to me too

Just as the title says; our riding experiences differ so much. I thought about this as a fellow poster mentioned riding on a crushed gravel trail vs the paved ones. What is “normal” to one is “foreign” to another, especially as this site has such a diverse group of posters from all over. What can you say that you find totally odd, or that is your normal riding experience that others just can’t comprehend?

I will start by saying it took me awhile to wrap my head around what seemed like a fixation on brakes. My experience is flatlands, so brakes just stopped you at an intersection and only had to be so so. I guess I am slow, but the light bulb lit when I saw that people posting on great brakes were from places with mountains or big hills. It was just foreign to my whole experience, as the flatlands riding with no hair raising 40mph descents may be to you.

Ditto for a post from someone talking a type of local pointed plant causing flats. Road conditions or lack of is quite area specific. Lucky is the well traveled person who has experienced many environments.
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Old 08-27-20, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by sd5782 View Post
Lucky is the well traveled person who has experienced many environments.
This has occurred to me as well. Every year we follow good weather and our kids locations so I ride in a Southern AZ bike friendly community with mostly flat 5' to 8' bike lanes, city center Portland, OR and Bighorn Mountain foothills, and before retiring Adelaide South Australia. I have learned what works for me and now store bikes at locations that fit the geography and community but still experiment with rides that move through my shop. Putting together a '04 Litespeed now and if I keep it it will likely end up in the Bighorns for climbing or Portland where I like the light weight for accelerating out of lots of stop and go. Another example is tires with some level of flat protection get used in AZ where if it is green it probably has thorns and supple tires in the pine foothills and grass lands.
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Old 08-27-20, 08:43 AM
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Interstates. Years ago I was astonished to read a thread about riding the shoulder of an Interstate highway, somewhere in the Rockies. The poster was equally astonished to read suggestions to find an alternate "surface" route. It took some background clarification, to explain that between some cities, the Interstate is the only way to get from A to B. Here in the midwest (as in much of the US), the Interstates roughly parallel the old US Federal highways, most of which are still there. In some mountain passes, there was no choice but to replace the old highway with the Interstate. Thus, bicycles are allowed on the shoulder. Something you just don't think about in the Central time zone.

Other than that, we get a little of everything here. Extreme winters with all manner of snow, ice, slush, etc. 90F+ summers with oppresive humidity. A mix of paved, dirt and limestone paths/trails. A wide range of bike-friendliness from city to city. The Driftless area has some (in)famous climbs and descents. Road hazards from slippery squished fallen chestnuts to tractors, deer, snapping turtles and woodchucks on the road.

Oh, I guess one other thing we don't encounter here is the effects of salt sea air.
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Old 08-27-20, 09:14 AM
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I mostly avoid roads on my rides. Our town has a system of city and university trails (that also extend to county and state trails) and a clever route choice can exploit them and only use relatively low traffic roads, some of which have identified bike lanes on the sides.

This also means that most of my riding is on dusty crushed stone and gravel, so I don’t really think that much of my bike being constantly dusty. That’s just normal around here.

Also, we have lots of hills, but they are limited in elevation to the surface relief of the region which is about 200 feet, and most hills are significantly less. So riding SS is an option if you have the strength and conditioning to push up those climbs and recover.

Otto

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Old 08-27-20, 11:14 AM
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I'm spoiled now. The real estate boosters have taken to calling this part of South Carolina "The Lakelands" for all the New Deal-era manmade lakes around here. Lots of good rolling terrain that for the most part works pretty well for single-speed and fixed-gear cycling. All the kool kids riding trails around here used to run rigid single-speeds, and I certainly enjoyed doing so myself. Not too flat, fortunately - nothing sucks more than riding fixed on dead-flat terrain, because it's too easy to forget to stand every so often.

I grew up cycling in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, not too far from the Parkway, and a few years ago when I did an event ride that veered into that sort ot terrain up around Walhalla, I suffered like an animal on the climbs.
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Old 08-27-20, 11:30 AM
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No hills or mountains in Illinois. Hard to comprend some of rides in PNW and Mid-South.
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Old 08-27-20, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Interstates. Years ago I was astonished to read a thread about riding the shoulder of an Interstate highway, somewhere in the Rockies. The poster was equally astonished to read suggestions to find an alternate "surface" route. It took some background clarification, to explain that between some cities, the Interstate is the only way to get from A to B. Here in the midwest (as in much of the US), the Interstates roughly parallel the old US Federal highways, most of which are still there. In some mountain passes, there was no choice but to replace the old highway with the Interstate. Thus, bicycles are allowed on the shoulder. Something you just don't think about in the Central time zone.

Other than that, we get a little of everything here. Extreme winters with all manner of snow, ice, slush, etc. 90F+ summers with oppresive humidity. A mix of paved, dirt and limestone paths/trails. A wide range of bike-friendliness from city to city. The Driftless area has some (in)famous climbs and descents. Road hazards from slippery squished fallen chestnuts to tractors, deer, snapping turtles and woodchucks on the road.

Oh, I guess one other thing we don't encounter here is the effects of salt sea air.
To my midwestern friends who haven't ridden the driftless area: please get yourself over there and ride it. A mixture of constant rolling hills, occasional more serious climbs/descents, less used county roads, and mostly friendly drivers who move into the left lane to pass makes for some of the best riding we have.
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Old 08-27-20, 11:45 AM
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Back in late Feb/early March, a few of us BFers managed to beat the COVID-19 restrictions and gather in Phoenix for some spring break riding (details and pics here). We drove the rented RV from Phoenix to Tuscon and immediately started up Mt. Lemmon. I also soon realized that my relatively flat training through the first three months of the year weren't going to suffice. Every ride we did was get on the bike and climb! It was great fun, but very humbling.
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Old 08-27-20, 11:55 AM
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The Campagnolo Delta brake discussion.

I live/ride in a very mountainous area, and brakes are super critical. We regularly do descents that push the limits of even modern disc setups. One of my buddies is crippled for life (spine completely fused now) from crashing on a descent here. Once a really good rider, is now forever relegated to 1 mile walks on a good day.

Anyway, someone will always argue that the Delta's are perfectly adequate or such and such brakes work great etc. They have no idea.
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Old 08-27-20, 12:31 PM
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Over the years I've been a city rider (Rochester, NY), a mostly rural rider in central Pennsylvania where you can find hills (or not), briefly a prairie rider (where wind direction was always the primary consideration), a trail rider (northern Kentucky cycling infrastructure can best be described as "death wish"), and have had some forays onto gravel and into goathead country. Am in the early stages of transitioning to Blue Ridge mode. If I can manage it, replicating much of my cycling experiences from central Pennsylvania would be my ideal. I'm not sure if I still have it in me to out-sprint dogs who adopt hostile attitudes.

I have no real experience riding in deserts or mountains, or super-congested urban centers with 360 degrees of chaos.
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Old 08-27-20, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
No hills or mountains in Illinois. Hard to comprend some of rides in PNW and Mid-South.
What part of the state do you live in? The Southern tip and NW corner most definitely have hills. Not on the order of some places but big enough they'll make you hurt. The Shawnee National Forest in the Southern part of the state is actually a part of the Ozarks.
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Old 08-27-20, 12:43 PM
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Here's a pretty typical weekend ride for me, usually with one or two others with one stop for food along the way. It starts in a fairly urban environment in the Boston area, but in no more than 10 miles I'm in the fairly spacious suburbs, some rolling hills, some farmland, a really nice mix overall, including the amount of climbing.
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Old 08-27-20, 12:51 PM
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It's why I always qualify my riding scenario when discussing brakes or anything else vintage that may be "just fine" to many but aren't in an area with steep hills (mountain roads or in the city); dense, active, and loud city traffic; and shared bike lanes 90% of the time. Add the need of the bike to stop a 195-200 lb rider, and city riding is quite hostile to a friction-shifted, single-pivot-calipered brake bicycle. I've done it before (600 Arabesque on a Trek 710, among others), but it's not enjoyable. Out on trails or in the countryside, it's fantastic. Well, apart from needing really good brakes on a number of hills outside the metro area. Can't get away from them!

To swim with the sharks, one needs to become a shark, or skip all of it and ride protected bike lanes and paths only. [I do not blame people for doing so. It's quite nice to not have to hack it up with cars, buses, and trucks!]

Flatlands just makes me think of constant wind/headwinds. We get plenty of wind here, but Midwest-level unrestricted wind would be frustrating to me as I would naturally ride only in the directions that face a headwind...because no matter how I try, it's always a headwind.
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Old 08-27-20, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
No hills or mountains in Illinois. Hard to comprend some of rides in PNW and Mid-South.
As one from the rural PNW I can't relate to the flat lands or city riding. I'm so used the variation you find here between mountains, hills, farm country, miles and miles of back roads, paved MUP's, etc. It's quite enjoyable. @northbend probably does the most "exploring" around here as any of us. My county is blessed with a large volume of paved roads with low traffic (granted it's all chip seal but ..... still). I can take a 10 minute drive and grab a mountain bike out of the truck and head into the hills for a lot of climbing and nature.
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Old 08-27-20, 01:33 PM
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I can't really relate to urban riding all that well; so many differences in surface quality, space, and the speed of cars.

I've done most of my riding where you clip in at the beginning, ride 50+ miles and rarely stop or unclip.
It was a change to ride in St. Louis and So. Indiana and So. Illinois.
(barrettscv, I ride out of Edwardsville all the time)
Hills on a regular basis were another change, which I enjoy.
Then there's SW Wisconsin, which is unique, vs. Calhoun County, MO (very much like SW Wisconsin).
In the Appalachians, the Blue Ridge Parkway is different in SC than NC than VA than WV, but they're all sort of "the same thing, only different."
I've ridden from Dallas to San Antonio, so there's that, but I've not experienced the Rockies, yet. It's coming.
MUP's in So. Illinois are a very pleasant surprise (100 miles on them on Sunday). Almost like they were built for it. Which they were.

Riders are different, too, in varying locales. Some places do single-file pace lines, some double.
Some stop, some don't. Most are nice. There are always yahoos and racer wannabe's. Such is.

Bikes don't vary much.
However, on a century on Saturday, I counted 4 (yes, 4!) other steel bikes: Bianchi, Hollands, RB-1 and a Trek.
That's the most I've seen since a dozen or so on RAW in 2019.
Other than the plethora of steel on Hilly Hundred in IN, probably the most I'll see for quite a while.

The world is still small. On a recent trip to WI from St. Louis, I rode with known cretins from Minneapolis, Madison, St. Louis, Wisconsin, and Chicago. Who'da thought I'd meet a guy in Wisconsin, from Minneapolis, a Boston native, who lost a bet on the Stanley Cup to a guy I often ride with in St. Louis? Having lost the bet, he has to ride in St. Louis. After riding with him in Wisconsin, he's definitely up for it. That's the experience.
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Old 08-27-20, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
Flatlands just makes me think of constant wind/headwinds. We get plenty of wind here, but Midwest-level unrestricted wind would be frustrating to me as I would naturally ride only in the directions that face a headwind...because no matter how I try, it's always a headwind.
Our trails tend to be mostly in riparian corridors lined with trees, but in the winter the leaves drop and so the wind really becomes much more of a factor.

Even this time of year, when I ride all the way out to the river trail in the floodplain, there are stretches where the wind always seems to be a headwind in both directions!

Otto
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Old 08-27-20, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
...
MUP's in So. Illinois are a very pleasant surprise (100 miles on them on Sunday). Almost like they were built for it. Which they were.
...
Almost bought a house about 3/4 mile from the northern terminus of the Tunnel Hill trail in Eldorado. That, and being in the path of the 2024 eclipse were two of the bigger plusses to that property - but wasn't meant to be. Wish there were a trail like that here.
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Old 08-27-20, 04:16 PM
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sounds dumb but weight and bike tires make for really different what works for me PSI setups I find my self thinking why in the world would that person ride so low a pressure..... me 244 them 160
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Old 08-27-20, 04:30 PM
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what are these flatlands you speak of? I can't ride much more than a mile without going up or down a hill in my neighborhood. My area is blessed with some nice scenic MUP unfortunately most users go into oblivious mode once on the Multi use path. I have learned its easier and less aggravating for me if I just stick to the road.
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Old 08-27-20, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Murray Missile View Post
What part of the state do you live in? The Southern tip and NW corner most definitely have hills. Not on the order of some places but big enough they'll make you hurt. The Shawnee National Forest in the Southern part of the state is actually a part of the Ozarks.
Yep, all true. IL has hills if you look for them. Even in Chicagoland we've got Sterne's Woods and Moraine Hills State Park. Most people would consider the riding there to be a little hilly.
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Old 08-27-20, 05:02 PM
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As sd5782 points out, we both live in the last-Ice-Age glacially-scoured lower Great Lakes - the most elevation we normally encounter is a highway or railroad overpass - or maybe a major river valley that has a 300' change at the absolute most. I've ridden in the fringes of those areas (Southern Ohio, as well as the near-GAP/C&O, as well as the desert SouthWest between Phoenix and Tucson... But still relatively flat. Nothing that I couldn't handle - and did - with a 51/39 crank combined with a 14/28 five-speed freewheel. Heck, my commuter bikes are either s 52/42 combined with a 13-24, or a 48/38 with a 13-21 six-speed freewheels for the 150' elevation change between home and work over 12.5 miles!!!
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Old 08-27-20, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Murray Missile View Post
What part of the state do you live in? The Southern tip and NW corner most definitely have hills. Not on the order of some places but big enough they'll make you hurt. The Shawnee National Forest in the Southern part of the state is actually a part of the Ozarks.
Also. bluffs along the Illinois River in my area. Sure, they're not mountains but I have two 50 mph downhills within 3 miles of my house and quite a few double-digit percent bluff climbs.
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Old 08-27-20, 05:11 PM
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I feel for those who routinely put up with goatheads, harsh headwinds, loads and loads of rain.

I am a solo rider and live in a valley. Down the river and back is flatish, and I can get an excellent cardio workout on that route, which can vary from about 23 to nearly 40 miles. It's a mix of local roads and multi-use path. Here is the elevation profile:


I can also climb up and out either side of the valley and enjoy the country roads and scenery. We don't have big mountains here, but we have some steep climbs. This profile is on the west side of the valley, about 47 miles total. That last big descent is pretty darn steep.


It's a good balance here.

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Old 08-27-20, 05:40 PM
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Ummmm... Isn't that the point?

I'd rather spend my money on a different riding experience than doing the same thing day in and day out. My hero in this regard is Doc. He is galavanting across the country/globe for a bike ride. My work (during non-covid times) has me traveling. And whether it is a bike share, or a rental or I borrow, I try to ride wherever I am. So plooting around a huge metropolis, a 7-mile gravel pass, a hors category climb (actually the decent is the scary part to me) and everything in between, that is the reason to ride, or live life. Again, the French said t best, vive la différence.
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Old 08-27-20, 05:49 PM
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This isn't area specific, but occasionally I get reminded that riding on busy roads is foreign to many (most?) cyclists. I started a new job recently and was chatting with a coworker who mountain bikes about riding around town to run errands and he looked at me like I had three heads when I mentioned riding on roads that (to me) not are stressful at all. The same goes for riding when there's snow on the ground, once you've done it for a while it ceases to be a big deal, but to most people it's almost unthinkable.
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