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Your Flatest Route - A Challenge

Old 06-26-19, 10:15 AM
  #1  
Hypno Toad
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Your Flatest Route - A Challenge

I started this thread earlier this week - I might be a flatlander ... - it got me thinking about a challenge: What's your flatest route? I'm gonna say the route should to be roughly 40 miles or more and should be a loop or out-and-back (avoid doing short laps on repeat or a one-way route going down the side of a mountain).

For me, it's the Dakota Trail, it's 50+ miles (out and back) with a total of ~615 ft of climbing, or 12 ft/mile. The Dakota is a paved rail-trail running west of Minneapolis. https://www.strava.com/activities/315912883 I've liked it for constant effort rides, in addition to being flat, there are limited road crossings on the west end of this route.
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Old 06-26-19, 10:36 AM
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Doing any kind of lap route in Inland SoCal is gonna be 35ft/mi or more. That's just how it is. I live at ~1,300ft, and two subdivsions over (about 3 miles) it's 1,800ft. I can climb 3,000ft simply by riding 15 miles east.

Sooo... six laps around the old AFB now non-operational airport, bolstered by about twenty half-mile laps around Parking Lot C, just in front of the airport terminal. This is SoCal. 20ft/mi is as flat as it gets unless you go to the beach.

Even just riding beside the Santa Ana River for 20 miles picks up about 10ft/mi when going "downhill," and another 700ft or so on the return trip.

If it were one-way, I've found a route that can take me 70 miles from my house to the Pacific Ocean with barely 800ft of climbing. But the return trip is like 2,500ft.

I ride around that old AFB a lot. Closest thing we have to flat. And at that, the east end of the runway is 70ft higher than the west end.
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Old 06-26-19, 10:47 AM
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I don't have any numbers for you but it's flat here in western New York. Pedaling on the flats is not easy. If you're not spinning the pedals, you go no where. Zero downhills to take a deep breath. And no uphills to lose your breath. It's a steady grind. Start to finish.
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Old 06-26-19, 10:54 AM
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For me that would be riding to the coast and back. I'm at about 400ft elevation but there are rolling hills in between so going over and back on a 50-60 mile loop is about 800-900 ft. of climbing. I don't think I've ever done a ride of more than about 30 miles that had less than that.
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Old 06-26-19, 11:00 AM
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Southern Michigan averages 15-20 feet per mile. A 1500-foot century isn't unheard-of. The last time I did the Wolverine 200, it consisted of 40 laps of Bell Isle, with at most 5 ft/lap of climbing. Over 200 miles, that made for 200 feet total.
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Old 06-26-19, 11:33 AM
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The challenge is asking what other poster's flattest routes are?
Well consider your challenge completed because you succeeded! Good work!


All my rides upload to Strava at which time Strava decides to change the elevation gain to whatever they think it is. Guessing how much elevation Strava will remove from my GPS recorded ride is a game I now play after each ride.
Strava shows a 36mi ride I did a couple weeks ago as having 285' of climb which is under 8'/mile. My GPS shows it was 1332' of climb. Go figure.


There is a 44mi out and back thats all paved path on an old rail trail which is 44mi and 512' climb which ends up being 11.63' and I am pretty sure that is actually accurate. Its a 1% grade for half the ride up and 1% grade for half the ride down, going both ways. The only 'climb' is an approach to a road where the trail used to go in a small tunnel under the road, but the trail now goes up and over the road. Its a whopping 15' high, maybe.
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Old 06-26-19, 11:35 AM
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CCRT 44 round trip w/o the new extension, 524 feet of elevation gain in one direction
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Old 06-26-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
........................it got me thinking about a challenge: What's your flatest route? .................For me, it's the Dakota Trail, it's 50+ miles (out and back) with a total of ~615 ft of climbing, or 12 ft/mile.......................
The following STRAVA replay is fairly flat for 14.5 miles - 58 minutes - 39 feet elevation - 14.9mph

https://www.relive.cc/view/2451774101

BUT !!!! the following STRAVA replay is how the above was made with more miles and not much elevation change - 121.1 miles - 7hr 46min - 279ft - 15.6mph

https://www.relive.cc/view/2451714693
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Old 06-26-19, 11:52 AM
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The longest "flat" ride I can think of in Colorado is the 40 to 50 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. It's right in the middle of the mountains but it only drops 462 feet over 41 miles (11feet/mile). Of course if you get off the trail to go anywhere else, things go south quickly.

Denver has the Platte River Trail which drops 700 feet in 37 miles (19 feet/mile) and the Cherry Creek Trail which is 700 feet in 27 miles (26 feet/mile). Again, any rides away from those trails get steep fast.

For true dead flatness, the Highline Canal Trail is a good bet. 50 miles, 530 feet or about 10 feet per mile.
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Old 06-26-19, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The challenge is asking what other poster's flattest routes are?
Well consider your challenge completed because you succeeded! Good work!


All my rides upload to Strava at which time Strava decides to change the elevation gain to whatever they think it is. Guessing how much elevation Strava will remove from my GPS recorded ride is a game I now play after each ride.
Strava shows a 36mi ride I did a couple weeks ago as having 285' of climb which is under 8'/mile. My GPS shows it was 1332' of climb. Go figure.


There is a 44mi out and back thats all paved path on an old rail trail which is 44mi and 512' climb which ends up being 11.63' and I am pretty sure that is actually accurate. Its a 1% grade for half the ride up and 1% grade for half the ride down, going both ways. The only 'climb' is an approach to a road where the trail used to go in a small tunnel under the road, but the trail now goes up and over the road. Its a whopping 15' high, maybe.
Elevation gain is a hard number to get, very few GPS devices are accurate. I use Garmin devices that use air pressure, which is worthless when a front is moving through. Simple mapping GPS (like phone apps) base elevation on map data, that's what Strava uses too. But I've fount that to be wildly inaccurate too. A few years back I did the Almanzo 100 and looked through my feed of friends that rode the same route - we ranged from 5,000 ft to nearly 10,000 ft - the accurate number is just below 7,500 ft.
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Old 06-26-19, 12:02 PM
  #11  
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Oh boy... We don't have anything like that here in the Appalachians. We do have a few mile stretch along the Holston River that perhaps is a 1% grade but that is it. All rollers.
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Old 06-26-19, 12:06 PM
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Hmmm...

I'm at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, and there are a lot of flatish rides north of here. However, I tend to get a few hills or rollers getting out onto the valley.

Here is our local TT course:
https://www.strava.com/segments/12146625

24.8 miles, with about 30 miles for me to get there.

Most anywhere I go, I have a few hills on the ends. But, to put my daily hills into perspective, one simply has to look at a not so flat day.



Circled in red are the two hills that I tend to hit on a daily basis. They can be real killers with heavy cargo loads. And, the blue boxes might be a typical day's ride.

I tend to have to hunt for the real hills.
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Old 06-26-19, 12:13 PM
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50'/mile is about as flat as it gets around here for an actual ride.
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Old 06-26-19, 12:17 PM
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Roll Fast Gran Fondo in Carmel, Indiana.

100 miles and 1644 feet.

Billed as the fastest Gran Fondo around. Finished in 4:17 with a flat. 4:11 moving time. The front finished around 3:45.
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Old 06-26-19, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by chemistry76 View Post
Roll Fast Gran Fondo in Carmel, Indiana.

100 miles and 1644 feet.

Billed as the fastest Gran Fondo around. Finished in 4:17 with a flat. 4:11 moving time. The front finished around 3:45.
WOW!! That's flat and fast.
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Old 06-26-19, 01:21 PM
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The only two flat routes I can think of nearby are the Great River Trail/Sparta-Elroy Trail, or riding to Houston, MN and hitting the Root River Trail. The former I avoid because it's crushed limestone (not my favorite, and very slow going) with washed out sections and portions that get closed down; the latter still requires probably 500' over 22 miles to get to the trail.

The La Crosse, WI - Houston, MN loop is my usual 'flat' ride, with ~44 miles and ~1100' elevation gain. The other flat ride is an out and back to Stoddard, WI, which is ~24 miles and ~400' elevation. My 'flat' century route (which I've done twice with first-time century riders) covers 105 miles through primarily SE Minnesota and northern IA; it comes out to ~3,500' over 105 miles. The only way to get flat in the Driftless is to hit the river valleys - but even then, there are some mild rollers.
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Old 06-26-19, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
For me, it's the Dakota Trail, it's 50+ miles (out and back) with a total of ~615 ft of climbing, or 12 ft/mile. The Dakota is a paved rail-trail running west of Minneapolis. https://www.strava.com/activities/315912883 I've liked it for constant effort rides, in addition to being flat, there are limited road crossings on the west end of this route.
^^That

Doesn't hurt that it goes right past my neighborhood either.
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Old 06-26-19, 02:30 PM
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I thought I'd try some scribbling on Strava.

https://www.strava.com/routes/19848785

79.21 miles, 584 feet, for an average of 7.37 feet per mile.

of course, the big issue would be the wind out there. There is often either a North or South wind, so one direction can be a hard push, and the other direction can be easy sailing.
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Old 06-26-19, 02:58 PM
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If I head due west away from the Wabash river I bet I could do a 40 mile loop at 400-600 ft. But wind farms are not my favorite view, so I usually head along the river which cuts 200 ft down, so going up and down that adds a lot...
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Old 06-26-19, 03:13 PM
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North Shore Century in Chicago. 100 miles. 1306 ft.

I highly recommend this century. Friendly people, nice scenery and frequent rest stops with plentiful food.

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Old 06-26-19, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The longest "flat" ride I can think of in Colorado is the 40 to 50 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. It's right in the middle of the mountains but it only drops 462 feet over 41 miles (11feet/mile). Of course if you get off the trail to go anywhere else, things go south quickly.

Denver has the Platte River Trail which drops 700 feet in 37 miles (19 feet/mile) and the Cherry Creek Trail which is 700 feet in 27 miles (26 feet/mile). Again, any rides away from those trails get steep fast.

For true dead flatness, the Highline Canal Trail is a good bet. 50 miles, 530 feet or about 10 feet per mile.
I would never have guessed there were any routes that flat here in Colorado.
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Old 06-26-19, 03:45 PM
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I vacationed on Sanibel Island, Fl earlier this year. Not really good road biking country but on about any ride the high to low elevation change was maybe 10 feet. Dave
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Old 06-26-19, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I would never have guessed there were any routes that flat here in Colorado.
I could imagine some flat routes around Fort Collins. Lots of irrigation canals. Flood irrigation. Farms & road grids laid out into 1 mile square blocks.



Utah also has great mountains, but the area west of Salt Lake is just FLAT!
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Old 06-26-19, 03:56 PM
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Strong headwinds are a feature of the NL.. coming off the North Sea..




NW Pacific, here, less strong on shore winds through the estuary up river, and the grocery run, on the bike,

heavily laden. into that head wind.. and the rider, being over 70...









..

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Old 06-26-19, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I would never have guessed there were any routes that flat here in Colorado.
Well, none of them are exactly direct. The Highline Canal in Denver loops and meanders. There are places where you travel a mile or more and you are only 1/4 mile from where you started. You just happen to be on the other side of a valley.

The Rio Grande Trail (Aspen to Glenwood) is the best...and easiest 50 miles you can do in Colorado. It may not be steep but it is fast and completely downhill from Aspen to Glenwood. You can even put your bike on a bus that will take you from Glenwood to Aspen. They even have a special bike bus for the trip although the regular bus works as well.
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