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Choices and Tradeoffs

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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

Choices and Tradeoffs

Old 04-13-10, 05:28 PM
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Choices and Tradeoffs

It's nice to have choices in where you ride, but there are usually tradeoffs. This photograph is along my regular route. I can go straight at the bottom of the hill or follow the highway to the right and wind up in the same place. Both routes are exactly the same distance. The backroad has lots of climbing, but almost no traffic. The highway is relatively flat, but there's plenty of traffic.

Until recently, I'd take the high traffic/less climbing route. But as I've become stronger and more experienced, hills are less intimidating and I prefer climbing to dealing with cars and semis. The highway is faster; the backroad is more scenic and relaxed.

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Old 04-13-10, 05:38 PM
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Looks like a pretty wide shoulder. Is it like that the whole way?

State roads around here tend to be the worst places to ride. Lots of them have ~6" shoulder and plenty of semis. With a shoulder like that I wouldn't worry about it.

BTW, what's with the truck going off the road? Is some A-hole behind you passing by crossing over the yellow line? I hate when people do that.
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Old 04-13-10, 06:20 PM
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That highway, Route 12, has a wide shoulder like that for most (if not all) of its length. It's one of NYS's designated "bike routes." There are plenty of others. It's nice to be able to ride 8 or 10 feet to the right of the white line. This particular highway goes from the PA border (down where Grumpy McTrumpy lives) to the Canadian border, so it's not a bad way to get around on a bike. I still prefer the backroads to any of the highways.

I think the truck is reacting to the ambulance you see coming up behind him at the bottom of the small hill. It had its lights flashing but no siren.
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Old 04-13-10, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Daytrip View Post
But as I've become stronger and more experienced, hills are less intimidating and I prefer climbing to dealing with cars and semis. The highway is faster; the backroad is more scenic and relaxed.
That is my preference as well
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Old 04-13-10, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Daytrip View Post
That highway, Route 12, has a wide shoulder like that for most (if not all) of its length. It's one of NYS's designated "bike routes." There are plenty of others. It's nice to be able to ride 8 or 10 feet to the right of the white line. This particular highway goes from the PA border (down where Grumpy McTrumpy lives) to the Canadian border, so it's not a bad way to get around on a bike. I still prefer the backroads to any of the highways.

I think the truck is reacting to the ambulance you see coming up behind him at the bottom of the small hill. It had its lights flashing but no siren.
Looks like a great place to ride.

And for those wondering - yeah, I seem to remember from my college days that shoulders in upstate NY tend to be wide. They gotta put the snow somewhere, and wide shoulders give room for snowplow piles from more than just one or two snowstorms before the piles start blocking the travel lanes.
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Old 04-13-10, 07:03 PM
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Take the back road, FTW.
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Old 04-13-10, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
Looks like a great place to ride.

And for those wondering - yeah, I seem to remember from my college days that shoulders in upstate NY tend to be wide. They gotta put the snow somewhere, and wide shoulders give room for snowplow piles from more than just one or two snowstorms before the piles start blocking the travel lanes.
That's a great point. I never thought about it like that, but it's certainly true.
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Old 04-13-10, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Daytrip View Post
But as I've become stronger and more experienced, hills are less intimidating and I prefer climbing to dealing with cars and semis. The highway is faster; the backroad is more scenic and relaxed.
Where I live, I get both! Well, no semis, but plenty of cars!
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Old 04-13-10, 07:11 PM
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I prefer climbing to flats. So that dictates my rides. I find flats to be mind numbingly boring.
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Old 04-13-10, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by JoelS View Post
I prefer climbing to flats. So that dictates my rides. I find flats to be mind numbingly boring.
i prefer descending, which makes climbing a necessary evil
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Old 04-13-10, 07:22 PM
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I would take the back road.
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Old 04-13-10, 07:42 PM
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Back Road -
Pros - Low traffic, Scenic, has hills
Cons - None

Highway -
Pros - None
Cons - High traffic, no hills


The choice is clear to me
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Old 04-14-10, 07:42 AM
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One of the "cons" of rural, backroad riding is loose dogs. But, like hills, you learn how to handle most of them so it's actually kind of fun, as long as they don't bite. I've been working on my dog skills this spring, and so far, so good. I think most dogs just feel an obligation to raise a fuss when they see a cyclist. Some like to race.

There's a little dog living in that house at the base of the hill in the photo who has a huge hardon for me. He's always tied up, so whenever I ride by, he goes nuts until he runs out of leash and chokes himself into submission. Every time.
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Old 04-14-10, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Daytrip View Post
That highway, Route 12, has a wide shoulder like that for most (if not all) of its length. It's one of NYS's designated "bike routes." There are plenty of others. It's nice to be able to ride 8 or 10 feet to the right of the white line. This particular highway goes from the PA border (down where Grumpy McTrumpy lives) to the Canadian border, so it's not a bad way to get around on a bike. I still prefer the backroads to any of the highways.
Somebody should organize a N-S cross-state ride on it.
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Old 04-14-10, 08:05 AM
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I'm feeling you.

I've got two different routes, one goes all the way through town and through the next one to end up in yet a next city. That's the fast route without a lot of height differences.
The slightly slower route has a few long bridges that equal a nice climb, but I'm a wussy and still don't take that route. I know I should...
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Old 04-14-10, 08:06 AM
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Leaving my neighborhood:

Head south (18 to ?? mile loop):
-busy two lane road for about 2 miles.
-rural, country roads with little traffic after that.
-crappy sections of road.
-loose dogs.
-no left turns across roads with heavy traffic at my back.
-slight uphill on the return (same two lane road w/ no shoulder)... pisses traffic off sometimes.

Head north (18 to ?? miles):
-busy roads the entire route.
-better road surfaces.
-wide shoulders on most roads.
-option to go south and return home from the south as described above.
-less rural in case of mechanicals.
-several left turns across 2 lane roads with no shoulders and traffic at my back.

I'm in W. central FL so it's f-l-a-t for the most part.
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Old 04-14-10, 08:24 AM
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One downside to riding on hilly rural roads with no shoulders is that cars approaching you from behind at the crest of a hill can't see what's coming, so they either have to slow way down or take a chance or pass by kind of close. Usually some combination of the three. OTOH, drivers on rural roads are used to slowing down for farm equipment and other slow moving vehicles, so they're usually pretty accommodating, I've found.

I gotta get my hands on a John Deere jersey.
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Old 04-14-10, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by FreddyV View Post
I'm feeling you.
LOL, please don't.
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Old 04-14-10, 08:30 AM
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I used to love riding in traffic when I was younger because the rush of filtering through cars in NYC traffic while constantly sprinting kept things interesting. Now that I'm older I avoid traffic as much as possible now because I like to minimize my risks on a bike; I like the idea of getting home in one piece and not worry my wife and daughter. When I do ride in traffic I'm far more cautious than I used to be.
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