Maybe you’ve just moved to a new city and have no idea where you can get a good ride in, or you might just be looking for a change of scenery from your tried and true routes. How do you go about finding suitable pavement? Anyone that has ever found themselves riding on a narrow highway with no shoulder and trucks passing you at 60 mph will know that it isn’t always as simple as checking out Google Maps.
If you are in a new area, probably your best resource for finding good routes will be the local bike shop (LBS). These guys have usually been a part of the local cycling scene for a while, and every one I’ve been in has been super helpful suggesting the best places for a ride. Many of them will even have maps that you can take with you, or rides posted on a bulletin board. Whenever I’m traveling and have just a couple days in an area, the LBS is my first stop.
The Guided Tour
However, for those of you who aren’t the best navigators, striking out on your own with a vague set of directions might not be your cup of tea. For a little bit more guidance, you will want to hook up with one of the local clubs. Many clubs will hold weekly group rides with a range of distances and paces to suit just about anyone. Our friendly LBS might be able to give you the contact info for some of the club, or a quick search on Google should bring up at least a couple clubs in your area. Once you’ve been to a couple rides, you can start asking around for other options – many of the riders will ride together informally in addition to the organized weekly rides.
Sometimes, though, you just want to get out there on your own, without having to worry about group riding etiquette, or holding casual conversation. If you’ve exhausted the suggestions of the LBS and the club, where do you turn? The answer, of course, is the magical internet. There are a bunch of good websites out there for tracking, recording, and sharing cycling routes. The two biggest are Strava and MapMyRide. In a few clicks, you can be browsing through rides that other people have put up in your area. These sites generally allow users to rate routes, and tag them with various characteristics, like ‘gravel sections’ or ‘great pavement’.
Here is a global heat map on strava, the more travelled that particular route is the more intense the colour becomes! Using the heat map feature, you can also plot where you typically ride and how many times you’ve ridden it. Take a look at all the areas you’re not riding and start taking in some new scenery. You can also check out other user’s heatmaps in your area. Using the Route Builder, you can piece together a new route from some popular roads and segments mapped by cyclists in your area.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you find some new routes if you’ve been looking to mix up your riding routine, or get you started in an unfamiliar area. Happy riding!