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Paths versus Roads

Old 11-05-12, 06:54 AM
  #26  
indyfabz
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
The European tertiary roads we've ridden were great. They pave everything except for a few bike paths over there. It's great. No potholes that I saw, just well maintained and clean roads.
+1. Did about 1,200 miles in Andalucia, often using the "white" roads on the map. I was amazed at how well the vast majority of them were maintained even though they often carried little traffic. Wonder if it's still that way with their economy the way it is.
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Old 11-05-12, 11:25 PM
  #27  
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I rode my first cycle trail this year. Running north out of a Swedish town called Karlstad is a 60-70 mile trail called 'Klarälvbanan' (The Clear River Track) laid out on an old rail line. Straight as it was, I expected to be bored, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. I went through villages and towns, beside lakes, fields, forest. The flowers were in bloom. It had places where a tourer could set up a camp, CLEAN outhouses every 5 km or so, little places to stop for drinks and snacks, markers for places of interest just off the trail like old country blacksmith forges, runestones and such.

I would love to ride it again with time enough to explore the places around it more thoroughly. I rode 43 miles of it in 4 hours because I was meeting my husband in Karlstad to end our holiday. I rode and he fished. The deadline left me no time to follow the signs to POI off the trail.

That said, paths like that seem very rare here in Sweden so while I enjoyed it immensely, I have to prefer roads since there are so many more of them.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:16 AM
  #28  
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Don't have that choice here in Ireland mores the pity.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:46 AM
  #29  
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To me it's not so much about path vs. road per se, but more about having patches of "civilization" at regular intervals. I find that when I'm riding a long path without much in the way of towns or villages to sightsee in, I get a bit bored. When I rode the C&O I would occasionally detour out on nearby roads for a literal change of scenery and better access to services. On the GAP, I really like how it goes through "trail towns" on a regular basis.

Touring on bike paths in Europe is really the best of both worlds in my opinion. Most are paved and are either cycle-only tracks or small farm roads closed to most vehicles. Plus, they take you through small villages, towns and cities at regular intervals.

To me, riding through a never-ending "green tunnel" on a path gets old really fast. That's what made the C&O kind of boring for me.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:50 AM
  #30  
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Most of my trips have a destination at the end. All things being equal, I'll take a quiet path over a busy street. I'll take a quiet street over a busy path, for that matter. But for the most part, if I can get there by path, I will. It just does not often happen that way. When it does, it's seldom an either/or situation, because roads are more prevalent than paths. There aren't a lot of destinations I could seek out that are accessible without a fair amount of road time. Also, while I like a quiet, isolated, nature-locked path, I also like towns, big and small. I like seeing how they're laid out. I like stopping at a park and watching traffic go by. I'll take a path where I can find it because it's rare. If it were common, I might find myself abandoning paths for the road more often.

Also, as has been said, sometimes a long cycle path keeps you isolated from provisions and lodging. Also sometimes they aren't as well marked. I was excited to find that an old railbed that went through my old hometown had been paved. I finally got to check it out and counted myself lucky that I had a mobile device with GPS and downloaded maps. Most road crossings had no signs to tell you where you were. On a paper map, I would have been trying to count road crossings or heading off looking for cross streets all of the time.
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Old 11-06-12, 02:41 PM
  #31  
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AS posted using paths that are new to you would be far from boring. I'd love to ride some of the paths pictured in this thread!

The paths could serve as a useful alternative to busy highways, like many do in Florida. In that state anything that puts distance between me and Velda Bluehair is welcomed!!!!

One of the problems we have in our neck of the woods is that the paths mostly are too short, and too straight to be of any use as an alternative. The Schuylkill River Trail you mention in Philly at least isn't straight or short. It actually goes someplace including leading to other paths.
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Old 11-06-12, 07:00 PM
  #32  
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Depends how scenic the path is.

My local bike trail from Central Philadelphia to Valley Forge? It absolutely blows. Pancake flat, nothing to see besides scruffy, tree-of-heaven filled new forest, sewage plants and office buildings. Terrible.

On the other hand, the Blue Ridge Parkway could be seen as a sort of bike path. Very different sights along the way on that one...
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Old 11-07-12, 06:34 AM
  #33  
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Since we've only toured on paths I'd say paths, however most paths of any length end up with connecting road sections, like the Erie canal, so maybe I should say both? I like paths as a destination (GAP, Erie, etc), if I were touring greater distance/time I might feel differently.
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Old 11-07-12, 07:50 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Jude View Post
On the other hand, the Blue Ridge Parkway could be seen as a sort of bike path. Very different sights along the way on that one...
I fail to see how the BRP, could not be in the road category if we are talking roads vs paths.
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Old 11-07-12, 09:06 AM
  #35  
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Paths at their best ar excellent.

So are roads, at their best.

There is another way of looking at this, or approaching it, that is potentially full of interesting discoveries.

It probably deserves a thread of its own.
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Old 11-07-12, 09:18 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I fail to see how the BRP, could not be in the road category if we are talking roads vs paths.
I was just thinking in the sense that it's a straight road that you'd mainly ride without leaving it - i.e., riding the whole thing is in many ways analogous to riding on a bike path - you just follow it and stay on.

Obviously in the whole "sharing with cars" sense it's got more in common with road riding, but in the sense of route planning it is like a path in a lot of ways.
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Old 11-07-12, 02:07 PM
  #37  
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Many of the rail trails in IL and WI (where I do most of my riding) can get boring. They're like riding in a constant tree tunnel that goes perfectly level and straight. I don't dislike them but I sometimes have to abandon them and ride the parallel roads. But I still support the creation of rail trails.
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Old 11-07-12, 02:33 PM
  #38  
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Navigational Canal Tow paths are more common in Europe.

In the US the cities were cited on natural rivers . in the 'wilderness'

The shipping between Places tended to flow that way..
digging canals was rare ..

I'd like to see passenger Rails used to move people again ,

but the finest government money can buy ,

measures transportation commercial success..
By Automobile sales

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-07-12 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 11-07-12, 10:29 PM
  #39  
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Tour the Blue Ridge Parkway and you experience some of the nicest, most scenic road in North America. And if thats all you do you'll miss out on the 120 waterfalls and a pile of other interesting diversions - most of them only accessable by unpaved roads or paths that branch off the parkway.
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Old 11-08-12, 06:29 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
Tour the Blue Ridge Parkway and you experience some of the nicest, most scenic road in North America. And if thats all you do you'll miss out on the 120 waterfalls and a pile of other interesting diversions - most of them only accessable by unpaved roads or paths that branch off the parkway.
I agree, but... I think that whether you branch off the parkway on those unpaved roads and paths or not you are still road touring. Unpaved roads are still roads and the paths are side hikes or rides that you can do or not do on a road tour or a bike path tour. I do think that on a road tour you have more freedom to seek out those side trips because you are not limited to one single route.

In the case of the BRP I assume that those forays onto the paths are side hikes not the route you take on the bike, or are there actually bike paths along the BRP?

I took the OP's mention of "paths" as referring to something like the GAP or C&O. Meaning a multi-use path that is likely to be shared with other types of path users, but not motorized traffic. Those do not especially appeal to me for the same "One way, one direction, once choice" reasons Chef Isaac mentioned as well as some other reasons. I might ride on them for a portion of a tour if they happened to go where I wanted, but am unlikely to want to go and just ride the KATY, GAP, or C&O. I am also unlikely to go out of my way to ride them when on a road tour. Just my personal preference though.

BTW, bike packing or MTB touring on trails is a different thing compared to the paths the OP mentioned, at least to my way of thinking.
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Old 11-08-12, 07:48 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
To me it's not so much about path vs. road per se, but more about having patches of "civilization" at regular intervals. I find that when I'm riding a long path without much in the way of towns or villages to sightsee in, I get a bit bored. When I rode the C&O I would occasionally detour out on nearby roads for a literal change of scenery and better access to services. On the GAP, I really like how it goes through "trail towns" on a regular basis.
What you experienced on the C&O vs the GAP trail is a historical difference. The GAP is a converted railroad so it had stops about every 20 miles for water and/or coal. Most railways built towns around their stops. If you look at a map of northern Nebraska along the Cowboy Trail, you can see the train towns quite clearly. The towns on that line are incredible regular.

The C&O, being a canal, didn't need the regular stops.
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