Every cyclist, novice or seasoned, has a mental checklist of bike routes that they are familiar with and feel comfortable riding without a map or cue sheet. But sometimes we just get bored, and winter with all those long slow distance miles and time on the trainer can be especially trying. Let us remember that this sport is supposed to be fun. When a sunny day finally arrives it is nice to have a couple of tricks for new routes up your sleeve. Here are a couple:
Try a route from an organized ride
I think most people know how to search for rides in your area with the usual suspects; Bikely.com, MapMyRide.com, Garmin.com. But those routes have the disadvantage that you have no idea who wrote them and they could send you to places no one should ever have to go on a bike (gravel streets, dead ends, busy highways with no shoulder). Organized events on the other hand have to spend a lot of time to make sure that their routes are fairly safe, and where they are on the sketchier side they usually let you know.
There are so many rides in the Seattle area in the summer time that it is hard to keep track of them all. Below I’ve listed just a few. Another great thing about organized events is that they usually make maps for the participants (the Cascade Bicycle Club does a particularly spectacular job of this). And typically these maps make it online, in easy to read map/cue sheet combos that you can print and take with you. Even if you can’t find previous years’ cue sheets or maps, there are usually instructions on the event websites themselves. Although these might not be in the perfect format to take with you on your bike, you can modify them with a little research. If other options don’t yield results try looking for routes that previous years’ participants have created on Bikely or Mapmyride. If you like a route you might even try the organized ride.*
The below rides range in difficulty and length, but most hover between 25 and 100 miles. With multiday and endurance rides use your imagination. Just because the course goes from Seattle to Spokane in one day (S2S) or all the way to San Diego (Fuller Center) over a month doesn’t mean you have to.
A note of caution about following cue sheets and maps: many times routes change from year to year, and sometimes this is because of major construction or other issues that make previous roads impassable. During the event the courses are also always well marked, so even poor instructions in the route guide can be easily understood by the riders on event day. Just make sure to avoid potential problems by checking with Google, Bing, or another online source.
Increase your range by using public transit
Instead of driving to the start of your ride (which means that you’re fairly limited to ending where you started) put your bike on a bus, train, or ferry and ride home (or to your car), thus lengthening the possible circumference of your route area. This makes long point to point rides feasible and increases the variety of routes that are possible. To find information on public transportation around Seattle you can refer to:
You can also find Park & Ride lots and other information here:
King County Metro Park ‘n’ Ride
Join a group ride
This is the most obvious of these suggestions, but I include it because I find that many people still do not feel comfortable looking for group rides. It is true that there are some very fast cyclists out there, on both racing teams and recreational rides from bike shops. It is also true on the other hand that there are many more moderately paced riders looking to exercise with friends and have a good time. You can usually tell what kind of ride you are joining by looking at the organizers website or calling.
If titled “Rocket Ride” and you aren’t the racing type, you might want to look elsewhere. In general most groups are very welcoming, and if you try out a ride and find the pace either to fast or too slow try a different one next week. At a minimum you probably met some new people and found some new places to cycle that you may not have tried before.
*Disclaimer – BikePT is not affiliated with any organizations mentioned herein and takes no responsibility or credit for any of the messages, stated goals, or opinions expressed by said organizations.