Sunday, June 12, 2011

Riding to the Root: Figuring out the route

As my previous post indicated, my 3-day bike trip to the Root River Trail is rapidly approaching. I leave Tuesday morning bright and early and will hopefully be getting to the trail by Wednesday afternoon.

I'm usually a pretty laid-back guy when it comes to planning (I'd rather just take life as it comes), but for something like this, it's a good idea to think things through. After all, the motto of Boy Scouts is to "Be Prepared."

A big part of preparing for a bike trip is figuring out what route you're going to take. Here are five things I try to factor in when I'm planning a route:

  1. Does it avoid most major roadways? At times, it's unavoidable that you're going to have to bike on a main highway. There's only so many back roads and "short cuts" out there. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to avoid them whenever possible. You might have to bike a few extra miles, but it's worth it to not a constant stream of cars zipping past you at 60+ mph.
  2. Are the roads at least major enough where they will likely be paved? I used to ride on dirt paths all the time as a kid, but that was with a rugged mountain bike that had thick tires, shock absorbers and a cushy seat. With a road bike, ravel roads are uncomfortable to ride on and they're more likely to cause a flat tire.
  3. Is it relatively easy to remember? Twists and turns are going to happen with any bike ride, particularly one that travels halfway across the state. However, it shouldn't be confusing to the point where you have to stop at every other intersection to look at your map. Nobody likes being lost, but there's also very few people that enjoy toting a mass of road maps with them on a bike trip.
  4. Is there anything cool to see along the way? If you're got the time to do so, some attractions are worth a quick detour to go check out. Why go on a long bike ride if you're not going to stop and smell the roses once in awhile?
  5. Are there potential stops for food and water? Basically, this is just making sure that your route passes through a town every once in awhile. Most towns will at least have a gas station for you to fill up your water bottle and grab a snack. There's nothing worse than being out in the middle of nowhere with no water (well, except for having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, that might be worse).

With all of that in mind, here are the routes I came up with for my trip to the Root River Trail. The return route is different from the initial route because I planned a 15-mile detour to go see the Mystery Caves near Preston.

Feel free to chime in with suggestions on different roads I could take or other cool attractions I could check out along the way.

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