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Do You Plan to Visit or Avoid Cities on Road Tours

Old 04-15-20, 03:14 PM
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Bassmanbob
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Do You Plan to Visit or Avoid Cities on Road Tours

When planning on a longer (weeks to months) road tour, do you typically plan to visit or avoid larger cities and why?
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Old 04-15-20, 06:01 PM
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Presuming this post is aimed at post corona times.

In that case I would usually plan to go to some cities of interest if they were near the route I chose. Although my current tours I've got planned post corona times don't happen to have any cities on route.

There are interesting things to see in some cities. An example would be Turin because it's a very beautiful city even if it can be a bit mad and chaotic, but then a lot of Italy is (beautiful that is).

It's nice in general to have a small mix of cities and wilderness, but if my routes take me only in wilderness I have no complaints.
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Old 04-15-20, 06:31 PM
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I generally avoid cities because -
a) I don't go touring to breath exhaust fumes.
b) Unfamiliar cities are a pain in the tail feathers to ride in.
c) Unless you get Warm Showers or CouchSurfing, they can be super expensive.

If you are doing a major, multi-month trip, you usually have to start and/or end in a big city.
Some people like to assemble their bike in the airport and ride from there - - not me.
I prefer taking local transportation out to a more sane location and having a pleasant first day.

On my trip last summer, we started in San Francisco and ended on the Oregon coast at Newport.
We had very litt city riding in SFO because we took the ferry to Vallejo.
Still the riding in East Bay was hairy at times.

Newport was easy. Took a county bus to connect to Amtrak.
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Old 04-15-20, 06:34 PM
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Depends on the city. Did I avoid Prague? Nope. Did I go to Seattle? Nope. Would I start riding in Tokyo? Nope, did I start a tour in Kyoto? Yes.
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Old 04-15-20, 07:05 PM
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That's funny. A few years ago I was meeting my first eharmony date for the first time. She asked me, "What would you do if you found yourself in a big city, like New York, with your bicycle?"

I said, "I would leave."

We didn't have any other dates.
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Old 04-15-20, 07:44 PM
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My first trip to NYC was when returning from five months cycletouring in Europe. Rode from La Guardia into Manahattan and down Second Avenue to a buddy's place at First and First.

On that tour I did not shy away from cities. Trip began in Amsterdam and took me to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Milan, Marseilles and Paris. Roads are roads.
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Old 04-15-20, 09:50 PM
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I don’t use Adventure Cycle maps very often but one of the things that bothered me about their maps when I used them is that they avoid even moderate sized towns as much as possible. It got frustrating since most of those little towns tend to have no groceries or services.

On my own, I have no issues riding through cities. It’s not that hard to navigate through one...I’ve been through Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., etc...and lived to tell the tale. While I like the wilderness, I also enjoy the amenities that large towns and cities have to offer. Touring isn’t just about riding, after all. It’s also about experiencing culture, history, and food. Those are generally easier to come by in cities.

Yea, there’s traffic but, honestly, that traffic is generally moving slower than out on the open road and they tend to know how to drive around bicycles. If you live on a road where there isn’t a car for a week, cities might seem daunting but for those of us who live in cities, getting around a new one isn’t that different or difficult.
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Old 04-16-20, 01:03 AM
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I definitely enjoy a mix of nature and occasional big town or city. I like to spend a few days in the cities I pass through, then spend a few days or a week riding through nature. As mentioned, cities are full of great food and culture. They also often have cool stuff to see(maybe that falls into culture?).
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Old 04-16-20, 03:50 AM
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I tend to avoid them. However, if I'm going to visit a city, I'll leave the bicycle in a hotel room and tour it by walking or bus.
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Old 04-16-20, 03:50 AM
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I tend to mostly stay way from big cities on long tours, but don't completely avoid them. I am usually mostly looking for the rural and small town experience and am usually camping. A big city is a departure from that.

Cities have their own kind of attractions, but they are generally not what I am looking for when on tour. When I do visit a larger city I tend to switch gears and get a room or stay with someone.
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Old 04-16-20, 05:38 AM
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"Larger" is relative. Are we talking Chicago or Tucson? What are my needs for services and what are the options? Do I need to replace gear or clothing?

Travel budget is a primary concern. Enjoying a large, world-class city can be expensive. But the pay-off can be substantial.

I host a few tourists on Warmshowers at my house on the outskirts of the Denver metro area. Most of my guests are flying in or out, or need a substantial town stop for resupply and repair. One French guy wanted to see an NFL game once in his life.

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Old 04-16-20, 07:36 AM
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It depends on the city. I'm used to urban riding so I'm not predisposed to avoiding cities on my bike. I love to bike in some cities including Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, & DC. One city which I really hated for biking (but which otherwise liked) was Bangkok, due to the dense traffic, heat, & humidity. Chiang Mai, Thailand was unusual because I found that I enjoyed biking within the city, but getting in and out of the city was not pleasant due to heavy traffic and the lack of shoulders. San Jose, Costa Rica, has chaotic traffic, so not my favorite place for biking despite great weather. Medellin was a mixed bag. Some parts of the city are extremely hilly. Smaller roads in flat parts of town were OK, but busier roads and roundabouts were not fun.
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Old 04-16-20, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
It depends on the city. I'm used to urban riding so I'm not predisposed to avoiding cities on my bike. I love to bike in some cities including Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, & DC. One city which I really hated for biking (but which otherwise liked) was Bangkok, due to the dense traffic, heat, & humidity. Chiang Mai, Thailand was unusual because I found that I enjoyed biking within the city, but getting in and out of the city was not pleasant due to heavy traffic and the lack of shoulders. San Jose, Costa Rica, has chaotic traffic, so not my favorite place for biking despite great weather. Medellin was a mixed bag. Some parts of the city are extremely hilly. Smaller roads in flat parts of town were OK, but busier roads and roundabouts were not fun.
The only city Iíve ever had problems with riding has been Nashville. The problem is that not many people ride bikes in Nashville and there isnít (wasnít) much bike infrastructure. The car drivers simply didnít know how to act around bikes.
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Old 04-16-20, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
"Larger" is relative. Are talking Chicago or Tucson?.
That was my question. Iíve been doing a lot of touring in MT. No problem with stopping in Butte. Nice to have a bed and get a good steak. Riding across the country we spent a weekend in Minneapolis, a night the Cleveland and passed through Buffalo on the way to a weekend in Niagara Falls, ON. It was all good. But like at least one other, Iím used to urban riding.
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Old 04-16-20, 11:24 AM
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It depends. I won't completely avoid a city if the most straightforward way is to go through it. On the other hand, I also don't expressly seek them out. It is sometimes useful to also spend some down time in a really long trip.

Examples of some of the largest cities > 1m people on my trip across the Americas (the metro areas may have more than what is listed here as city populations):
Mexico City - population 9m+, avoided going directly through it, since there was a reasonable ring route
Lima - 9m+, went straight through it, it was pretty hectic but worked.
Quito - 2.5m, went through and stayed in the city
Medellin - 2.4m, went through and stayed one night
Cali - 2.3m, bypassed since reasonable alternate route
San Diego - 1.4m, went through and stayed
Guadalajara - 1.3m, went through and stayed in it, slightly hectic crossing
Tijuana - 1.3m, bypassed rather than go through it
Tegucigalpa - 1.1m, went through it
Guatemala City - 1m, went through it

Los Angeles, Santiago, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cordoba - no reason to go out of my route to visit - so I didn't.
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Old 04-16-20, 12:12 PM
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Thank you for the replies.

To answer the question of how big a city was I thinking, I'm considering a multi-month US tour upon retirement. I'm currently no where near retirement, but with the extra free time that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, I am beginning long term plans for this tour as a means to occupy some extra time.

I am accustomed to riding in suburban areas, considering I grew up in Long Island and now live about 100 miles from either Orlando or Miami. I have done some limited city cycling as well. I don't think I've ever cycled in unpopulated rural areas, but I can get plenty of practice with that here in Florida.

For this potential tour, I have considered riding through and/or visiting small, medium and large cities as well as rural regions and possibly national parks. Obviously, I have no set plans, but I know I'd like variety along the way. I have been looking at the Adventure Cycling Association routes, but I want to include at least a couple of cities that are not on any of their routes. By deliberately not visiting those cities, I could cut mileage, but I would remain in strictly rural areas for very long stretches of the trip. I would like to mix it up with some more city visits.
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Old 04-16-20, 01:19 PM
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Big city riding and site seeing are fine. Most have some bike lanes or paths.
It is the 30 miles of getting into and out of the city that sucks.
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Old 04-16-20, 01:31 PM
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Usually avoid, but you can’t always completely avoid, especially if traveling by air. On my most recent trip, I flew into and out of Portland, OR, and spent a few hours in the city looking around before heading to the coast for the real tour. That was more than enough for me.
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Old 04-16-20, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
It is the 30 miles of getting into and out of the city that sucks.
+1

Not always 30 miles, but I've paid the most attention to the concentric ring around the urban core where there is both high-speed traffic and high traffic density. Once I get in close to middle of city, there are often some alternative routes and often also much lower speeds. In the US, I had some examples in the ring around Chicago and around Miami I found particularly challenging.

One technique I've picked up more on since is to explicitly go to Strava heat map to explore the routes to a city center. Typically seeing how other cyclists get into/out that 30 miles gives me some good ideas and helps differentiate a packed road with no shoulder and a lot of traffic from a road that otherwise looks similar on a map but has features that make it easier to get in/out. I often don't to that last bit planning until a night or two before - and so on the trip as I get close.
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Old 04-18-20, 02:27 AM
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Big cities are always part of my touring plans. I like remote routes through the mountains (wild camping and basic food) just as much as bustling city life (art, architecture and restaurants) so ideally every one or two weeks I leave the bush and ride into the city. The contrast makes both experiences more intense and enriching I find. For days off the bike I'll rarely to almost never choose nature (like for hiking or swimming) but go for the real R&R that only the city has to offer. It turns you back into the tourist that you are, too much hard labour on steep rough roads tends to make you forget that . Besides, riding your bike in a big European city can be a lot of fun in itself (Berlin is truly a blast). But then, a big city is where I live, other people will say I just have a hard time making a choice...
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