Thursday, July 28, 2016

Crumbling Infrastructure Ride

Part of my commute to work everyday.
I got a new set of Challenge Tires to check out for RidingGravel.com the other day and I decided to do a "close to home" ride to get to know these new treads before I dive into some "out there" ride on gravel. Well, as I was riding along, I was thinking about a few things.

First, I thought that it is kind of weird that we don't think about our "own back yards" as a place to find adventure much. Oh, there are folks who do this, but I think many do not think they can have an "epic' ride unless they go to Colorado, South America, or Finland. Ya know what I mean? It's as if these certain sites and media wonks have made it so that unless you have some grandiose back drop for your bicycle ride, you can't be having a "real adventure". Now there's something all the "any bike is an adventure bike" complainers should really be getting amped up over. Forget about the bike, it's all these media sites cramming their "We went to Uruguay to ride the spine of a Piranha" crap that is dumbing down cycling adventures. I mean, we look at that stuff, realize we'll never get there, not to mention be able to afford it, and we get all down about our mundane cycling we do get to do. We don't measure up.

That's a pile of horse crap, by the way, and you can have a fantastic adventure wherever you live if you open your eyes up to it.

So I thought, hey! I have some pretty cool and varied terrain right within my city limits. So, I figured I would string together a ride to hit up a multi-terrain route and never leave the city limits of Waterloo/Cedar Falls, which blend together so seamlessly that you never know when you've crossed the border between the two. I count it as one municipality, so there!

Some paved bike path....
Obviously, you are going to have some pavement. That said, there is pavement, and there is.......uh, a poor excuse for pavement! I start out with the latter. The former comes later on a local bike path, and both are remote, carless options I have. Here's where I'd like to point out something I have observed.....

Most town/city cyclists I see do not have a clue on how to string together a route that has low/no traffic. I see so many folks riding their bikes on routes that they would drive cars on, it isn't even funny. In fact, it is down right dangerous. Invest in time to explore different, safer, and yes......more circuitous and lengthy options. It's riding a bike, for crying out loud, so if you like that, you should want the ride to take longer. That's my take, anyway.

It also leads to exploration, discovery, and yes- adventure! You know, the whole reason you probably rode away from your home when you were a kid in the first place. Relive that! Why do the county roads, same ol' training loops, and the closed loop bike paths over and over again. Take the path less pedaled, and less car driven. You'll find some cool things you never knew about your city before. I know that I do whenever I find a route, street, or path I haven't ridden on yet. Which is getting harder to do the longer I live here, by the way!

This used to be a trolley car track. Now it is a dirt path. I hope they NEVER pave it!
Bushwhacking a short bit  between other more open bits. 
What amounts to a B Level Service road in the city limits that is closed to traffic.
Most folks would never explore around enough in the darkened corners of their locale to find the little gems, probably, but they should. I ride some odd places, on the surface of it, but I have a ton of fun and I strung together a ride today that lasted just over an hour that had every type of surface you can think of, short of cobble stones. I had perfectly smooth pavement all the way to busted up, crumbling chunky pavement. I had smooth dirt, gravel, sand, and even a rooty drop in from a park to a sidewalk. I had a steep, insane grade paved climb, a steep, insane grade dirt climb, and I bushwhacked an overgrown short cut in between. All within the gritty confines of my city limits.

Hidden gem- alleys. If you are not riding alleys you are missing out on a great amount of fun!
One of the best routes I can string together here is almost all alley ways. We have mostly crushed rock alleys here in this city. Miles upon miles of them. They are a great place to ride, see stuff, and be away from traffic. Well, except maybe at intersections, but yeah......go ride alleys! I have ridden in alleys since I was able to ride when I was a kid and I plan on doing that till I die. So much fun to be had right here where alleys are all over the place.

So, if you have a crumbling infrastructure, rejoice and have fun with it! There are a ton of places to go have fun, even if the back drop isn't a high Rocky Mountain pass sign, or some exotic foreign landscape. Find adventure right where you live and don't let anyone say to you that it isn't as good as some far flung location with exotic names.

13 comments:

Steven Butcher said...

Great advice, GT!

Iowagriz said...

Great commentary this morning! I've been pushing people to make your own backyard adventure lately as well. No need to get out of state, just look at Google Maps and find a green space someplace within riding distance. Ride there, camp, return. Easy to create your own adventure. I'm actually getting quite bored reading the "epic" trip reports to foreign lands.

youcancallmeAl said...

Bicycling magazine is one of the worst offenders

Joe Decker said...

Fantastic advice! I ride with a group of people that do much the same thing. We start our rides every Tuesday with a route in mind, but rarely do we stick to the plan. It's because of these rides that I can take off from my house and string together routes that take me all over the country surrounding Fairbanks. While I would love to ride these far-off destinations, there is plenty of adventure to be had right here in my backyard.

youcancallmeAl said...

here is the stuff you were talkin about in spades! hurry folks before you die a total failure!!

http://www.bicycling.com/rides/vacation/7-places-ride-you-die?cid=soc_BICYCLING%20magazine%20-%20bicyclingmag_FBPAGE_Bicycling__

phillip Cowan said...

Excellent point! It ain't always about the dollar bill.

50voltphantom said...

I love this. Great post.

Bob Ganson said...

I coudn't agree with you more. Traveling to far off lands is great but you make your adventures where you are. Here's a link to a video of my morning adventure. Nothing more beautiful than a Midwestern morning sky. Thanks Guitar Ted , you are an inspiration.

https://vimeo.com/65982972

R said...

those gravel alleys are backyard gold for kids... at least they were for us. we'd find spare/old doors or boards and build ramps for our dirt/bmx bikes... you can ride all over town on those alleys, just need to use your fisheye vision at intersections. i will still lead my kids down the gravel alley-ways in town when we ride, they love it. and AMEN to the bike route vs car route logic... college students seem notorious for riding their bikes on the 4-lanes around here... there are other ways to wal-mart folks, get a clue!

Gravelo said...

GT, this post is awesome. One of the reasons thati check in almost every day. A gem in the gravel, if you will. I was instantly inspired to ride alleys. Who among us didn't cut their cycling teeth ina city alley? "We" used to play chicken with the garbage truck, built ramps, perfected or skids and power sliding, everything was done in an alley! I'm going to do an urban alley adventure to post on my own blog, thanks for the #Alley Stoke!

Guitar Ted said...

Thanks everyone! This seems to have struck a nerve, and I am glad to find many of you are, or have done in the past, your own CIR's. Adventure cycling on the local level just isn't something that's talked about much, but if it were, don't you think more folks would want to ride? I do.

Hopefully this is a small contribution to inspiring more of thesame.

#CIR

Mac said...

Chicagoland is also great for this sort of thing. Hidden railroad underpasses, some gravel alleys, and plenty of crumbling infrastructure...

MICHAEL said...

Hear, hear. I've had some of my most enjoyable rides just bombing around town. Doesn't seem to matter which bike I take; any bike can be an Adventure bike !