May. 23rd, 2015

bikingandbaking: photo of my road bike in front of a statue of an apple (baldwin monument)
Designing cycling routes is an interesting challenge; with the various online mapping tools, we know a LOT more about roads we've never ridden, and playing armchair quarterback with routes can be fun.

I'm running a ride in about two months, and thus it was time to put my money where my mouth was, in terms of commenting on routes. Now, brevet rules mean that the way you go should be the shortest reasonable-to-bike route. And therein lies the rub. What's reasonable to expect people to ride? How much can you push that if there's a much nicer road nearby?

My first thought: this will be fun! One of the things I like about biking rather than running is that you can really GO PLACES, so most of the routes I've written for myself don't meander much -- they point themselves in a direction and head mostly straight there.

My second thought: wow, there are a lot of roads! Lots of easy ways to shave a tenth of a mile here if you're willing to be super-fussy about directions.

My thoughts now: good grief, this is tough. The bones of the route haven't changed since I first laid them down, but there's these little epicenters of WHAT DO I DO. Mostly near the end -- there are a lot of ways to get from Ipswich to Lexington, all of them a few miles longer or shorter, and they're all mostly nice roads punctuated by deeply annoying intersections. For example, crossing route 1 has a few options -- one that adds a bit of mileage and goes under, without actually crossing the road at all. This would be my preference on a daytime ride, but it adds a bunch of fast turns in a row, including some that are hard to describe on a cue sheet. One is the one on the draft, which crosses the same place the CRW spring century does -- at a light, with good visibility in all directions, and a Dunkin Donuts with a restroom that will be open by the time slower riders are coming through. All the others don't have lights, most are uphill (and thus makes crossing time slower), and/or have poor visibility. The bike path has a push-to-flash light, but it's dirt and I was hoping to avoid that on this particular ride. Too many choices, all of them reasonable. We'll see what RUSA says.

I also determined that while it's tough to shortcut my basic route through a section, if you completely rewrite that section from scratch and take a different choice very early on, it drops it by ~3 miles. ARGH. (Getting around the Mishawum area, where freeways and train tracks mean that you either go north or south of a wide area. North was my preference; south is shorter. It's not quite a straight-up shortcut, because you really have to know the area and plan ahead, but it's possible.) North has the pretty photo op in my icon and a few of my favorite roads; south is perhaps actually nicer in total.

On top of all this, since it's a night ride, I want to minimize turns and especially minimize confusing turns; T intersections are great, because you know you're at the right place when the road you're on dead-ends at the right mileage. Etc.

I'm sure I'll have more deep thoughts once I've gotten the route approved, and once people have ridden it, eek.


bikingandbaking: photo of my road bike with a tag reading "51" on it (Default)
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