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Review the route before you ride?

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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.
View Poll Results: Do you like to review the route prior to your ride?
Yes, it helps me decide if it's something I'd feel comfortable riding.
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78.95%
No, I just show up and hope Mt Everest isn't on the route.
8
21.05%
Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

Review the route before you ride?

Old 03-15-21, 02:02 PM
  #1  
Bald Paul
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Review the route before you ride?

I have a neighbor who started cycling after knee surgery. He got to where he could comfortably ride around 18 miles locally, then asked me if I would join him on a charity ride sponsored by a nearby cycling club. One of the routes they offered was a short 20 miles. Of course, I agreed.
On the day of the ride we checked in at the registration table and got our route cuesheet. Roads had been pre-marked with colored arrows at the turns for the various routes.
Off we went. 20 miles, most of which included climbing sections with one section at an 18+% grade. (I'll admit, some of those were 'get off and walk the bike to the top' sections.) Needless to say, we ended up totally exhausted, and spent the next day or two resting our knees (I have had knee surgery previously.) We both swore we would never sign up for a group / charity ride again, unless the route was published on something like RidewithGPS to see what kind of terrain we would be tackling.
How do you approach group / charity rides?

NOTE: section in italics edited to clarify for those conceptually challenged

Last edited by Bald Paul; 03-16-21 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 03-15-21, 02:45 PM
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All sorts of ways. Just depends on things too varied to even think about.

Many of the organized rides I do now post the route on RWGPS or Strava. I'll take a look at it on that website. That makes it nice so you can see route profile and know where those climbs are that you need to consider. I'll also usually take a look at the map with the satellite imagery layer and see what type of area the route goes through. Sometimes even zooming down to street level and seeing what it looks like.

I have for a few rides, ridden them before the actual ride. Either on my bike or by car. So you got all kinds of choices. If they don't post to a website like RWGPS or Strava, then I'll just look at what ever map they provide and try to make my own course on RWGPS and many times you can find that someone else already has done that. Otherwise, google earth can be your friend too. The limit is your own imagination.

Last edited by Iride01; 03-15-21 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 03-15-21, 02:50 PM
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I would complain strenuously to the organizer(s) if a 20 mile "easy" route included an 18% grade. My neighbor, who organizes the local club's century, typically notes anything over 8-9% on the route description.

6% is pretty normal for bike routes IME. Nothing to complain about.

And let me come back with another question. How do you know the climb was at 18%? Lots of people complain about climbs, and like fishermen, the measurement starts high and grows with each telling. Did you have an inclinometer on either bike?
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Old 03-15-21, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
And let me come back with another question. How do you know the climb was at 18%? Lots of people complain about climbs, and like fishermen, the measurement starts high and grows with each telling. Did you have an inclinometer on either bike?
Not answering for the OP but Strava marks the grade % of an incline if there is a segment. I use it to see what kind of pain I've endured. That being said, I don't use Strava to plan out my rides to prevent surprises like 18% grades but if I was smart I would!
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Old 03-15-21, 06:31 PM
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It's hard to imagine an 18% grade on any event ride without some advance notice, especially a 20 mile ride. This was a road ride?
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Old 03-15-21, 08:15 PM
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All the groups I've ever ridden with publish their routes ahead of time, usually on RWGPS. It's not just 18% grades which are of interest, but rather how is the route effort-loaded, so one knows how to manage one's energy stores. Also very steep descents ending at traffic or stop lights, stuff like that. I wouldn't ever ride a route I hadn't looked at ahead of time. Even bike touring, I try to know what I'm getting into. I remember one time touring on our tandem and going by an Adventure Cycling map, there were not only loose gravel on super steep hills, almost impossible to climb even on foot, but we also crossed into the grounds of a penitentiary and were summarily turned around. So much for maps.
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Old 03-15-21, 08:44 PM
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How can I review the route ahead of time when I'm not even sure where I'm going when I head out?
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Old 03-16-21, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I would complain strenuously to the organizer(s) if a 20 mile "easy" route included an 18% grade. My neighbor, who organizes the local club's century, typically notes anything over 8-9% on the route description.

6% is pretty normal for bike routes IME. Nothing to complain about.

And let me come back with another question. How do you know the climb was at 18%? Lots of people complain about climbs, and like fishermen, the measurement starts high and grows with each telling. Did you have an inclinometer on either bike?
Believe me, we did give some feedback to the organizing club. The response was something to the effect of 'well, it was posted as a 20 mile route, not necessarily an easy route'.
Post ride, we downloaded the ride from my Garmin and analyzed the climbs. 18% was peak, most were 8-10%.

Originally Posted by big john View Post
It's hard to imagine an 18% grade on any event ride without some advance notice, especially a 20 mile ride. This was a road ride?
Yes, on road. Sometimes I wonder how they ever managed to lay down the asphalt on some of the sections!

Originally Posted by steve0257 View Post
How can I review the route ahead of time when I'm not even sure where I'm going when I head out?
Exactly my point. If no map or route is provided pre-event, you have no idea. And, it's sometimes easy to miss a turn arrow, 12" long, painted on the side shoulder at the bottom of a descent and go off course for miles before you realize it. Uploading the route to your GPS beforehand can give you the additional notification of upcoming turns.
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Old 03-16-21, 06:09 AM
  #9  
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I try and look at routes ahead of time. The hills don’t concern me too much, but I always like to know how the route will be affected by the wind direction.
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Old 03-16-21, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by steve0257 View Post
How can I review the route ahead of time when I'm not even sure where I'm going when I head out?
Fair question. People keep telling me about Strava shadowing or heat maps or something? Sounds a bit technical to me but you can see where other people have ridden to get route ideas. Maybe someone in this group knows more? Might be a membership only feature now.
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Old 03-16-21, 08:20 AM
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I cannot think of any 18% grades that are maybe 1/4 mile tops that would not be well known in my neck of the woods.
I always route my rides on ridewithgps so I can identify parks for water and restrooms, bike lanes and to stay away from freeways.
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Old 03-16-21, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR View Post
I cannot think of any 18% grades that are maybe 1/4 mile tops that would not be well known in my neck of the woods.
I always route my rides on ridewithgps so I can identify parks for water and restrooms, bike lanes and to stay away from freeways.
Agreed, but there are also several 20 mile routes that don't use them. Unless you know the planned route, you have absolutely no way of knowing,
Here are stats of two 'short' rides listed on RideWithGPS. As you can see, there's a big difference.
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Old 03-16-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
Fair question. People keep telling me about Strava shadowing or heat maps or something? Sounds a bit technical to me but you can see where other people have ridden to get route ideas. Maybe someone in this group knows more? Might be a membership only feature now.
Here ya go: https://www.strava.com/heatmap#7.00/....36000/hot/all

I always like to know where I'm going when I head out. I never just "go for a ride." Every ride of mine has a purpose and thus a duration and a difficulty, chosen ahead of time. I map out my rides on RidewithGPS. I download the ride from there to my Garmin and just follow the prompts. Without a Garmin or similar, one can print cue sheets from RWGPS, though I think one now has to have a premium account there to do that. Which I've had for many years, totally worth it, plus it's good to support people who do such valuable work for our sport.
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Old 03-16-21, 10:34 AM
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Sorry the ride didn't work out, but this is surely overstated.

"20 miles, most of which included climbing sections with 18+% grades"

If you did a 20 mile ride with 10 climbs with 18+% grades, I'll eat my cycling gloves.
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Old 03-16-21, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Sorry the ride didn't work out, but this is surely overstated.

"20 miles, most of which included climbing sections with 18+% grades"

If you did a 20 mile ride with 10 climbs with 18+% grades, I'll eat my cycling gloves.
First, I never said there were 10 climbs. Second, the 18% was the steepest section, not all climbs.
I'll try to word things more concisely in the future.

Last edited by Bald Paul; 03-16-21 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 03-16-21, 11:36 AM
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Review the route before you ride?

I find it much easier to preview a route before I ride.
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Old 03-16-21, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
First, I never said there were 10 climbs. Second, the 18% was the steepest section, not all climbs.
I'll try to word things more concisely in the future.
Oh, it won't matter much, we all get kicked for things others find odd and if you don't get dinged for how detailed and exact you are then you'll get what you just got flak for. I just got a similar ding for using the word "collapse" in another thread that technically wasn't proper. <grin>

Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Review the route before you ride?

I find it much easier to preview a route before I ride.
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Old 03-16-21, 01:06 PM
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Old 03-16-21, 01:40 PM
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I use Strava a lot to plan route ideas for solo rides (mostly to see what will fit within my available window of time), or check out what to expect on group ride routes I'm not familiar with. That said, I have yet to ride using turn-by-turn guidance on my Wahoo Bolt.
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Old 03-16-21, 07:39 PM
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I usually preview the route because I won’t get stranded without water and I will know if it is within my ability.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:35 AM
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I do this all the time, pick a route and then drive it, watch for road conditions and pinch points, traffic, dangerous spots with limited visability
hard to find a route that I think is safe for me to ride that doesn't put me in harms way on the road
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Old 03-17-21, 07:46 AM
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People that organize rides are either non-riders or they are masochistic TdF wannabe’s. Yes, I check the ride route even when local and all the moreso for out of area rides. I’m a decent climber and want to be in good enough shape to climb the included hills but sometimes it gets ridiculous when organizers think they absolutely MUST stuff in as many hills per mile as possible.
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Old 03-18-21, 04:03 PM
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My wife and I decided to take a drive to check out a posted ride not too far away from our home. Thankfully we did this before riding as it was one of the most flipping dangerous routes Iíve ever seen. We did encounter a few cyclists who clearly didnít see it that way but to each their own.
Itís not always possible to drive them out but we try to if we can.
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Old 03-18-21, 06:47 PM
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I like to use Google Maps Street View to see what kind of shoulders I'll have, how well-maintained the roads are, and what kinds of food and drink options I'll find along the way.
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Old 03-18-21, 07:55 PM
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I've enjoyed some exotic locations and it's possible to scout out any destination with tools like Map-my-ride and Google Earth. So yes, I plan my rides.



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