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What Kind of Roads Do You Prefer While Touring? (With poll)

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View Poll Results: What kind of roads do you prefer to tour on?
Highways
7
14.00%
Back Roads
31
62.00%
Dirt Roads
7
14.00%
Rail Trails
5
10.00%
Bushwhacking
0
0%
Voters: 50. You may not vote on this poll

What Kind of Roads Do You Prefer While Touring? (With poll)

Old 06-22-18, 08:31 AM
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What Kind of Roads Do You Prefer While Touring? (With poll)



Back Road in the Palouse

I have toured far too many miles to be considered "normal".
And yet, I am always thinking of my next tour as soon as I finish the last one.

I have ridden highways, byways, dirt roads, bike trails, and bushwhacked.
Each has its advantages - well, maybe - and disadvantages.
I'm curious what y'all think about road choices.

Yes, I would love to have scenic, empty back roads with smooth pavement all the time.
But that ain't gonna happen. The more remote the road - the more cracks in the pavement.
Such trade-offs are almost always the case.

For me, I would rank roads as follows:

1. Back Roads -
Plus - Low traffic, scenic
Minus - Longer than highway, rougher pavement, no shoulders
But - Back roads with heavy traffic are pretty nasty.

2. Bike Trails -
Plus - Zero traffic, shaded
Minus - Variable surfaces from paved to mud, indirect, limited services
But - Bike trails are pleasant, at first, but can get pretty boring out in the cornfields.

3. Dirt/Gravel Roads -
Plus - Low traffic, many more routing possibilities
Minus - Slower speeds, surfaces from o.k. to horrible, dust
But - Most dirt roads are not on Google Streetview so it can be a crapshoot.

4. Highways -
Plus - Shortest route, usually good pavement
Minus - Heavy traffic, dangerous without shoulders, shoulders can have rumble strips
But - Sometimes, esp. in the West, you have to ride on the Interstate - no other option.

5. Bushwhacking -
Plus - Sometimes the only option
Minus - Usually illegal whether on private or public lands
But - Most of us have done it when the bike trail ends and it's 300 yards to the road.

So - - - What's your opinion?
Add any other choices that I may have overlooked.

Last edited by jamawani; 06-22-18 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 06-22-18, 08:47 AM
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I voted for "back roads," but the definition of a back road must vary from person-to-person. I'm not a big fan of rural roads that aren't traveled by bicyclists often, as drivers tend to be a little crazier and self-absorbed on those roads. However, when I am planning a trip to someplace new, I will try to work as many neighborhood streets into the route as possible. I guess you can call those "back roads." And if there is a park or a rail trail along the route, I will unquestionably direct myself to it.

Highways can be fun, too, if there is a sense that the road is leading you somewhere exciting. I like the electric vibe that I can feel from passing motorists on a highway leading to the beach. But get on a highway that goes toward some smelly city and it's a whole different feeling.

All-in-all, if the option were available, I'd have checked all the boxes in your survey, because when it comes to being on the bike, far from the stress of home, any three-foot-wide right-of-way is just fine with me.
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Old 06-22-18, 09:12 AM
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Back roads was my choice.

I like the comment about trails. I did two boring as all get out trails during my recent tour from VT to PA. Fortunately, they were only 3 and 4 miles long, respectively. The latter was basically a tunnel of trees with only one distant view of a nearby mountain range. Adventure Cycling substituted this trail mileage for a very pretty stretch of road riding that has better mountain views, etc. To make matters worse, you then had to circle around via not the best roads to join back up with where you would have gotten to had you stuck with the original routing. It seems like trail miles for the sake of trail miles. Overall, the new routing is a large, net loss of pleasantry, and it adds 4 miles and hundreds of feet of climbing.
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Old 06-22-18, 09:22 AM
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How about gravel roads, urban streets, residential streets, dirt paths, towpaths, paved paths or singletrack, to name a few?
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Old 06-22-18, 09:23 AM
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they all have their place at times, but in general dirt roads are preferable.

they are often left off of the googles, which cuts down on the amount of vehicles. more likely to see a mahout walking his pachyderm than a class A motorcoach.

more variety of just about everything....except traffic.
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Old 06-22-18, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s
How about gravel roads, urban streets, residential streets, dirt paths, towpaths, paved paths or singletrack, to name a few?
Perhaps I should have said "Unpaved Roads" or "Dirt/Gravel Roads".
I think towpaths and paved paths fit under "Bike Trails".
As for city streets - - well, I suspect few would list them as destinations on a tour.

(I edited the post per your concerns.)
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Old 06-22-18, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
Perhaps I should have said "Unpaved Roads" or "Dirt/Gravel Roads".
I think towpaths and paved paths fit under "Bike Trails".
As for city streets - - well, I suspect few would list them as destinations on a tour.

(I edited the post per your concerns.)
I would choose city streets. That is usually my destination in Europe, which is my favorite place to ride.
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Old 06-22-18, 10:20 AM
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The connecting road between Coleraine , and Portstewart and Portrush in County Antrim Northern Ireland
was fabulously smooth. (after riding a month or so on the Atlantic West coast of the Republic of Ireland)

When I commented on that , when there, I was told its because of the Motorcycle races..

Namely this one ; https://www.northwest200.org/
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Old 06-22-18, 10:56 AM
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Obviously situation and highway dependent.

However, I picked highways as my most common choice as well as being fairly direct. I'm willing to trade off some quietness for some directness.

My recent trip back from El Paso to Austin is a good illustration:
-- Interstate 10 is a highway, but I avoided it as much as possible. I was on the frontage roads to I-10 and I-10 for short stretches and it was fine.
-- Near El Paso there were smaller back roads and I took those as much as I could because they went same place as the larger roads but had less traffic
-- The largest part of my trip was on US 90, a highway. It was fine and I preferred it to finding some patchwork of smaller roads.
-- One I got close to Austin, I took the backroads because they were familiar and Austin is a busy urban area.

So overall, I more often than not pick a longer, perhaps goal directed trip of crossing a region or country. In making such a trip, I'll take smaller roads when they go where I'm headed. Otherwise, I'll be on the larger roads including highways because they are a bit more direct. Shoulders and rumble strips are hit and miss on such roads. Sometimes you win with a wide shoulder. Sometimes it is narrow or disabled with rumble strips in which case I'll be more in search of alternatives.

So I'm preferring tours that imply a moderate amount of highway cycling - and sometimes picking smaller roads on such tours.

Last edited by mev; 06-22-18 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 06-22-18, 11:36 AM
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I picked "back roads" but not all roads or bike paths for that matter are created equal.

For example I would rather ride something like the Cour D'Alene or Allegheny River Trail which are both paved.

The roads of the Selkirk Loop would be considered highway but if there was any less traffic on them they would be called a bikepath.

And I would take something like 101 in Oregon even if there was a paved inland bicycle path that paralleled 101.
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Old 06-22-18, 12:07 PM
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I prefer bike trails, where they extensively exist and aren't just glorified sidewalks. It really is nice to just kick back and not worry about traffic at all, and while they can become boring in America, the ones in Europe are generally as spectacular as the roads around them. Perhaps moreso, if they actually follow a river.

Beyond that, just back/dirt roads.

Last edited by jefnvk; 06-22-18 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 06-22-18, 12:45 PM
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Ones that I prefer to AVOID are like this one, at times the wash boarding was so bad I could not go over about 8 km/hour. When you see stuff in the road that is smaller than a tennis ball and you do not even bother to try to miss it, that says something about the road. And when a big truck comes by you had better get out of the way, road was a bit narrow.



But this road was not to bad near where I took the photo.



Some roads are a lot better when they are dry than when they are wet.

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Old 06-22-18, 02:14 PM
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Old 06-22-18, 02:36 PM
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I prefer roads that are downhill.
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Old 06-22-18, 02:51 PM
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I Prefer roads that go to interesting places..
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Old 06-22-18, 02:52 PM
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Since when did the moon get an atmosphere?
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Old 06-22-18, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s
Since when did the moon get an atmosphere?
If your question was about my second photo of post number 12, that was in the middle of the interior of Iceland. Not the moon. But NASA sent astronauts to Iceland to train before they went to the moon, so your question was rather perceptive.
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Old 06-22-18, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by skookum
I prefer roads that are downhill.
Not the ones in Iceland, you wouldn't. Only time in my life I've had to pedal downhill, the winds were strong enough to effectively stop you coasting

They were quite nice for cooling purpises going uphill though, silver lining and such
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Old 06-22-18, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by skookum
I prefer roads that are downhill.
Well, then, you had better ride south - not north.
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Old 06-22-18, 05:26 PM
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Paved back roads, particularly the little winding D routes carved into the mountainsides of France. One of my riding buddies in the Pyrenees...

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Old 06-22-18, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
Well, then, you had better ride south - not north. (In response to a post that read "I prefer roads that go downhill.")
Funny. Whenever I look at a map, I always imagine that riding north will be all uphill and riding back south will be one long, exhilarating coast down. 'Didn't think anybody else had that same illusion!.
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Old 06-22-18, 06:54 PM
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Highways have signs for your location. Smaller roads are not always visible on the map. Back-roads on Internet maps do not always exist.
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Old 06-22-18, 08:06 PM
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Rush hour in southern Vermont
This looks about right to me.
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Old 06-23-18, 05:03 AM
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when I had only a road bike with 25mm tires I stuck to paved roads, and would avoid poorly paved roads. Where I live, this meant more traffic. Then I bought a cross bike with larger tires and purposely found those poorly paved roads, gravel roads and rail trails. Where I live, this means very little traffic, more scenery (forests line the roads, or farmers fields), and more adventure. This type of riding has transformed my riding behaviour from a Ďroadieí to what I call an adventure rider. I love long rides where I combine all sorts of surfaces to create a pleasurable route. I still use my road bike, as early in the morning the nicely paved roads donít have much traffic, but anytime from late morning to evening I pick the cross bike and look for cracks in the pavement.

with touring, which I donít do as often as I like, I simply push the distances of these mixed surface rides to longer distances and stay over somewhere.

i love watching bicycle touring YouTube videos, and I recently watched one where a guy is doing his own southern trans-am route. He spent hours/days on nicely paved roads with wide shoulders, but lots of trucks. It made me think! Iíve only ever been on such a road once in over 15 years of cycling (charity ride thatbwent through cottage country north of Toronto). You might go further and be more comfortable on such pavement, but I prefer the backroads and if theyíre not available between points a and b, I choose a different overall route.
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Old 06-23-18, 06:48 AM
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Ideally? Nice bike paths leading right along a coast or as directly between cities as possible, while including as little climbing as possible. Paved or not doesnít really matter to me as long as itís pretty ridable. I do prefer not paved when in hilly areas. I donít like climbing, and at least it feels more adventurous if itís a rough, unpaved road rather than just climbing another ****ing hill that goes on for a mile... So in an ideal world, bike paths, but in the real world I guess what the US calls a county highway with a shoulder to ride on?
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