Ken Roberts - - Bicycling

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Columbia Trail in New Jersey - GPS + loops w road

09oct

I rode the Columbia trail from its southwest end in High Bridge thru Califon to its northeast end near Flanders, and some of the roads nearby (so I could get back without riding the same rail trail sections twice). Mostly thru rural terrain or forest. Almost all of it nearly flat. Fairly closely follows the "south branch" of the Raritan River.

A short missing section just northeast from route 517 at Long Valley -- which I found easy to get around on a mostly quiet road (except for a very short section on rt 517). Also a short missing section northeast of Califon where the trail joins a mostly quiet road, then leaves it -- with no sign (at least in my direction) to tell me that was what was happening: I thought it was the end of the trail, but I kept riding in the same direction and then found it wasn't.

Except for a short section of asphalt at the southwest end in High Bridge, it's gravel and packed dirt/sand, mostly free from ruts and potholes -- one kind of eroded section between Vernoy Rd and Middle Valley Rd. I was on my road bike with 700x23 tires

see also  [ map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX ]

GPS latitude-longitude

southwest end of trail with parking in High Bridge = 40.66955,-74.89648 = N40.66955 W74.89648

trail crosses Main St in Califon = 40.71935,-74.83575 = N40.71935 W74.83575

end of trail on south side of Long Valley = 40.78679,-74.78098 = N40.78679 W74.78098

end of trail on north side of Long Valley = 40.79431,-74.76897 = N40.79431 W74.76897

parking near end of trail near Flanders = 40.81426,-74.72859 = N40.81426 W74.72859

northeast end of trail near Flanders = 40.81678,-74.72530 = N40.81678 W74.72530

see also  [ GPX file | Google Earth KML ]

connecting around the missing section at Long Valley

going toward northeast: Where the trail ends by route 517, I turned Right on route 517 south (lotsa car + truck traffic) a very short ways, Left on Fairview Av about 0.8 mile (starts east, immediate curves left north, then curves right northeast), I saw parking area on right side for "Gillette Trail". Turned off Right, thru parking area onto grassy path southeast down a short ways to the dirt-gravel trail, turned Left onto it to go northeast on the Columbia Trail toward Flanders.

going toward southwest: (not the direction I did it, but here's how it would work). At GPS lat-long above for "end of trail on north side of Long Valley", turn off the trail right onto grassy path going uphill a short ways, thru parking area to road. (or when find that the trail gets bad or disappears, turn around a go back a short ways to find the grassy path). Left on Fairview Ave about 0.85 mile to its end. Right on route 517 north a short ways (lotsa car + truck traffic), Left off road onto dirt/gravel trail, continue west-southwest toward Califon.

distances

including sections crossing public roads or riding on public roads with active traffic:

High Bridge (Main St) to Califon (Main St) = 5.5 miles

Califon (Main St) to Valley Brook Rd (including section on Vernoy Rd) = 1.25 mile

Valley Brook Rd to Middle Valley Rd = 1.5 mile

Middle Valley Rd to route 517 = 2.8 miles

roads: rt 517 + Fairmont Av to Gillette Trail parking = around 1 mile

Gillette trail parking to Bartley Rd = 2.9 miles

Total around 15 miles

see also  [ map on Bikely | Google Earth KML | GPX ]

loops on both rail trail and road

Two possible advantages of riding a loop: (1) You can get back to your car without having to ride the same stuff twice -- go back in a different way than you came. (2) If different people in your group want to do different things.

High Bridge - Califon loop, under + over

Roads from High Bridge northeast to Califon:

Start from parking at southwest end of trail in High Bridge.

South on Main St to its end - (near the train station).

. . . [ Sharon + I stop there for coffee + snack ]

Left, then quick Left again to go north on Center St a short ways.

Right on McDonald St down short steep hill to its end.

Right on Washington Av for about 1.8 mile: starts south, then curves east, then north.

. . . [ pass by pretty Lake Solitude ]

Left on Cokesbury Rd or River Rd (main road turns right + climbs hill)

bear Right onto River Rd (do not cross bridge)

River Rd soon becomes packed dirt, go about 4 miles north then northeast alongside one of the prettiest sections of the Raritan River, called Ken Lockwood Gorge.

. . . [ after about 2.5 miles, cross asphalt: Hoffmans Cross Rd, still another 1.5 miles left ]

. . . [ later the surface becomes asphalt ]

Right on Academy St / route 512 north a short ways (this road gets more traffic)

immediate Left on Main St of Califon (possible food options)

. . . a short ways (southeast) further up on Main St is the crossing of the . . .

Columbia Trail, can turn Right to go back toward High Bridge

Trail from Califon southwest to High Bridge:

from Main St in Califon to Main St in High Bridge is about 5.5 miles total

. . . at first southwest, then south, then southwest

near the start it crosses route 512 / Academy St

"high bridge" --  the trail does take a "high bridge" across the Raritan River - (and there's a sign with a story about a train wreck there).

Surface turns to asphalt as it comes into the town of High Bridge

The trail does cross some active streets in High Bridge.

Loop total = about 11.5 miles

see also  [ map on Bikely | GPX ]

Califon short north loop

Columbia Trail northeast from Califon about 1.25 mile:

starting from Main St in Califon

northeast on Columbia Trail (dirt/gravel)

. . . [ later goes alongside a road, which is Vernoy Rd ]

dirt/grave trail ends, continue northeast on asphalt-surface road (Vernoy Rd) a ways (usually not much motor traffic).

bear Right off road onto dirt/gravel trail, continue northeast

reach asphalt road (Valley Brook Rd). trail sign on other side of road says entering Morris County.

Easiest road back to Califon: Left on Valley Brook Rd a very short way (do not cross the river), Left on Vernoy Rd southwest to its end at Main St in Califon.  (Loop total a bit under 3 miles).
But since that's so close to the same as the Trail, here's a more interesting + scenic way . . .

Road from Valley Brook back to Califon:

Right on Valley Brook Rd (east) about 0.4 mile, then just after it starts to climb steep,

sharp Right on Beaver Rd (south) for 1 mile -- continues climbing but not so steep, gentle, later a steep section, a pretty farm, then steep down -- to a cross-roads.

Right on Frog Hollow for 1.3 mile (west + southwest) to its end in Califon.

Right on Main St a short ways to Columbia Trail.

Loop total = 4 miles

see also  [ map on Bikely | GPX ]

combine loops High Bridge + Califon short north

Loops total = 15.5 miles

see also  [ map on Bikely | GPX ]

Califon - Middle Valley loop

We rode this, but it includes a significant section on a higher-speed, higher-traffic road (route 513), and includes the roughest section of the Columbia trail we found.

Columbia Trail northeast from Califon about 2.75 mile:

starting from Main St in Califon

northeast on Columbia Trail (dirt/gravel)

. . . [ later goes alongside a road, which is Vernoy Rd ]

dirt/grave trail ends, continue northeast on asphalt-surface road (Vernoy Rd) a ways (usually not much motor traffic).

bear Right off road onto dirt/gravel trail, continue northeast

cross asphalt road (Valley Brook Rd) trail sign says entering Morris county

continue north on Columbia Trail (dirt/gravel)

cross asphalt road, route 513 (higher speed, higher traffic)

continue north on Columbia Trail (dirt/gravel)

bridge across Raritan River

reach asphalt road (Middle Valley Rd)

. . . (trail continues northeast, asphalt road toward left climbs steep hill)

Roads back to Califon:

Right on Middle Valley Rd (south) for 0.15 mile to its end

Left on route 513 (east-northeast somewhat uphill) - (higher-speed higher-traffic road) for 0.6 mile to first right turn.

Right on Beacon Hill Rd (southeast) up hill for 1 mile.

Right on Turtleback Rd (dirt/gravel) - southwest for 1.4 mile.

reach asphalt road which is Valley Brook Rd . . .

Straight across onto Beaver Rd (south) for 1 mile -- starts uphill, later gentle, later a steep section, a pretty farm, then steep down -- to a cross-roads.

Right on Frog Hollow for 1.3 mile (west + southwest) to its end in Califon.

Right on Main St a short ways to Columbia Trail.

Loop total around 8.25 miles

northern loop near Long Valley + Flanders

Disadvantage of this loop is that Bartley Rd gets more motor traffic.

Columbia Trail northeast toward Flanders, about 2.9 miles:

starting at parking area on Fairview Ave for "Gillette Trail" (which is about .85 miles northeast from route 517 in Long Valley) -- see above GPS latitude-longitude for "end of trail on north side of Long Valley ").

Grassy path southeast down a short ways to the dirt-gravel trail.

Left onto dirt-gravel trail northeast.

. . . cross asphalt road (Naughright Rd)

. . . cross asphalt road (North Four Bridges Rd)

end of Columbia Trail at Bartley Rd

Roads back toward Long Valley

sharp Right onto Bartley Rd (southwest) for 1.9 miles.

Right on Naughright Rd for 0.5 mile.

Left on Fairview Av for 1.2 mile.

parking area for Gillette trail on left side.

Loop total about 6. 5 miles.

 

GPS getting started using with bicycling

August 2009

Sharon and I just got into using a Garmin 60CSx GPS for navigating on bicycle rides, and we're pretty happy with it.

purchase decision

We mainly wanted the GPS for road bike single-day rides, but also for backcountry ski tours which out in the mountains away from known trails, and in Europe as well as USA. I wanted a barometric altimeter and electronic compass for backcountry (and the barometric altimeter also for measuring steepness and size of road hill climbs more accurately).

Neither of us cared about recording "workout" data like speed, cadence, heart rate - (so we didn't need a "bicycling" or "fitness" GPS)

I had seen a Garmin Nuvi used in France by a friend driving a car on the roads, and that made me think that GPS and mapping technology were finally good enough to be really helpful.

Garmin had lots of mapping resources for Europe readily available on its own website and lots of its distributors. Some competitors seemed more focused only on USA. Probably there was a way to put Europe maps on them, but we wanted to feel confident that it could be straightforward.

So I was imagining that I would buy a new GPS that would talk to me like my friend's Nuvi, but after doing more research on what other bicyclists were doing with GPS, I decided to give up on that. Because it seemed that most of the bicycle GPS strategies used what Garmin calls "tracks" (just a sequence of "dumb" positional points connected by "dumb" straight lines) -- while the "talking" GPS units for roads either use a single destination, or what Garmin calls a "route" (a sequence of points which the unit uses "smart" navigation to make a route between), not tracks.

So I knew we needed a GPS that could store "tracks" and use them to navigate.

Touch-screen: I read some reviews and find that some customers with lots of previous non-car-driving GPS experience were not happy the readability of the Garmin tough-screen units intended for non-car-driving uses for bicycling + hiking. Especially with bicycling, you can't easily adjust the "tilt" of the unit relative to the sun while riding, and for backcountry skiing I was concerned about readability in "flat light" situations -- which is when I would most be depending on the GPS. So I decided to go for the old-fashioned kind with buttons.

Put all those requirements together in the summer of 2009, and a product that fit was Garmin 60 CSx, so we bought that.

"track" to follow

"track" versus "route"

What Garmin calls a "track" is just a sequence of "dumb" positional points connected by "dumb" straight lines. What Garmin calls a "route" is a sequence of (possible "smart") waypoints which the GPS unit uses "smart" navigation to make a route between. The GPS 60CSx can navigate with either a track or a route.

Nice thing about using a "route" is that the navigation by roads offers more definite notification of upcoming intersections and "hand-holding" in getting thru the intersections. The problems with the "route" are: (a) putting a route on the GPS adds lots of waypoints in a single batch -- but once they're on the GPS, I don't know a simple way to remove them as a batch; and (b) which roads are selected to go between waypoints might depend on which kind of GPS unit someone else is using or what navigation set-up parameters they selected.

Since I don't want my GPS cluttered with lots of waypoints that are of no use to me after that day of riding; and I want to be able to easily share my routes with other people without them getting sent onto unintended roads because of different settings in the on-road-routing algorithm in their GPS unit -- I decided on tracks.

GPX

The obvious format to share with other riders is GPX, which is supported by Garmin MapSource software to transfer to the 60CSx unit, and by the Bikely.com and MapMyRide.com bike route sharing websites.

Bikely.com on the web seemed easier to use than my first experiences with the Garmin MapSource program running locally on my PC, so my strategy was to create routes on Bikely.com, then download the GPX file from Bikely (using the "Share" tab) to my PC, and use Garmin MapSource open the GPX file and transfer the "track" to my GPS.

details -- When handling the GPX file in MapSource: (a) the track in the GPX file from Bikely is just named "track", so in MapSource I would give it short abbreviated meaningful name before transferring it to my GPS -- so it wouldn't get confused with other tracks on my GPS unit; and (b) sometimes there were "waypoints" in the GPX file from Bikely, so I would delete those, or else have MapSource transfer only the "track", not the "waypoints", to my GPS.

tweaking the track points

?? [ more to be added

mounting the GPS on our bikes

So far we've used the 60CSx unit on our home tandem and on Ken's home road bike. For neither one did we mount it on the handlebar in the obvious way.

riding: making the Garmin 60CSx work out on a ride

Worked overall pretty well. In particular, not difficult to read the screen in different outdoor lighting situations, and had no problem using old-fashioned buttons (instead of a touch-screen) to make the unit do what we wanted.

 

setting up navigation on a track:

?? [ more to be added ]

Use the TracBack button.

Complicated: There's no way to just say: Follow the selected track from point on the track nearest my current position to the End point.

Tricky: The GPS unit is equally happy to follow the track in either direction, backward or forward.

So have to be careful in selection the goal point so you follow the direction you really want.

Note that the "follow roads" option doesn't help, if your plan was to follow a pre-created track which you loaded into the GPS unit. When I selected "follow roads", it seemed to ignore the track and just make up its own route to the selected goal point. That is, I selected a point on the track, but once I selected that point, the navigation on roads seemed to ignore any guidance from the original track.

 

some ideas which helped:

  • Change the color of the track to something other than the default "black" -- otherwise the track can sometimes be confused with roads. Do this by selecting the desired track, then select the Setup button - (I found the color "dark cyan" easy to read).

  • Turn off Auto-zoom (in Setup)

  • Use the "In" and "Out" buttons to get to a map display resolution of around 500 feet or 300 feet, so we could see exactly where the next turn is, and see clearly the "shape" of the turn - (e.g. slight bear Right versus sharp Right) - (e.g. Left and quick Right versus Straight)

  • If have multiple tracks on the GPS unit in the same area, so they're intersecting on the map view in a confusing way -- set the tracks not currently being navigated to not show on the map page. (Do this by selecting each of the other tracks, then select the Setup button, and there's a check-box for displaying the track on the map or not.

some unexpected behavior:

  • Often the first direction given for following the selected "track" makes no sense. Fortunately we always have paper maps and basic directional sense to do the right thing on our own, until we get to the second turn and direction from the unit.

  • Sometimes the black triangle the marks current position on the map moved off the screen. What seems to help: (a) To prevent it from happening: Don't use the "rocker" to move the screen or pointer while navigation is on. Before using the "rocker", press Menu and select Stop Navigation, then use the rocker, then press Menu and select Resume Navigation; (b) If it happens anyway, press Page, then press Quit; or (c) press Menu and select Stop Navigation, then press Menu and select Resume Navigation.

  • Sometimes the black triangle that marks current position on the map got aimed in the wrong direction (like sideways, or even backwards). This seems tougher to fix than having the black triangle wander off the screen. My suggestions are: (a) press Menu and select Stop Navigation, then press Menu and select Resume Navigation; or if that doesn't work, (b) press Menu and select Stop Navigation, then press and hold the Power button to turn the unit off, then turn the unit on again, then press Menu and select Resume Navigation.

 

maps: Garmin maps details on making them work

I bought the City Navigator North America NT 2008 and the City Navigator Europe NT 2010 maps on DVD.

Key point: These maps can work only on one GPS unit. Not a problem for me at this point, since I've only got one unit which I want to use them for. But I've read stories from other customers who own multiple Garmin GPS units who were surprised and very pissed off when they discovered this.

I was not that surprised that "generic" distributors like Amazon did not point this out clearly. But I was surprised that some more specialized outdoor retailers well-regarded for taking care of their customers did not point it such a fundamental point -- and because of that decided not to purchase my maps or 60CSx unit thru them.

But the DVD maps do work on more than one computer -- I've got my City Navigator North America NT 2008 DVD unlocked and working on two home computers (and multiple users): Windows Vista and Windows XP.

unlocking Garmin City Navigator maps

I found "unlocking" the maps to be more complicated than I expected.

Here's what I suggest which might help make it more straighforward . . .

Before starting to load and install the City Navigator map DVD:

(a) first set up your account (with the usual ID + email + password) on the Garmin website, and register the GPS unit on the website, and make sure it's linked it your Garmin user account(so you can see it in "My Dashboard" on the "My Garmin" web page.

It got confusing for me because I got asked to register my GPS unit in the midst of the map unlocking process.

(b) first find the "Serial number" printed somewhere on the GPS unit, and write it down. Where to find this is not obvious, and I think the location is different for different Garmin units. On my 60CSx, it was underneath the two AA batteries.

The "Serial number" (a string of numerical digits) is not the same as the "Unit ID" (also a string of numerical digits). The "Unit ID" is stored in the GPS unit's internal memory, so the only way to get it is to connect the GPS unit to a computer or to the Garmin website, so the GPS unit communicate its "Unit ID". But the GPS unit does not know it's own "Serial number", so you have to find that yourself.

Turned out that in the further installation and unlocking process, I didn't need to know or enter the "Unit ID", but I did need to know and enter the "Serial number". (still it makes sense to write down the Unit ID somewhere)

After successfully unlocking the City Navigator map DVD the first time, it's good to obtain (from your My Garmin / My Maps page on the Garmin website) the 25-character unlock code string, and saving that somewhere.

Then I discovered that after I had installed and unlocked the City Navigator map on the administrator account on my computer, it was not unlocked when I tried to run Garmin MapSource on my norman user account on the same computer . . .

unlocking the map DVD for another user or on another computer

When I found out that my City Navigator was still locked on one user account even though it was unlocked on another on the same computer, in Garmin Mapsource I opened "Manage Map Products" under the "Utilities" menu. Did the obvious thing, selected my City Navigator map from the "Map Product Information" tab, and clicked the button "Unlock Online" button. Which took me to the Unlock page on the Garmin website, and I carefully entered all the correct codes, and with multiple tries the result I got was always something like "Unable to unlock map". (My guess is because it was already unlocked on that computer).

Then I tried inserting the DVD while running in my User account, and try to run Setup or something, which got it to prompt for my 25-character unlock code, which I entered. But that didn't work either.

Here's what I finally found somewhere on the Garmin website,
which did work:

1. Launch the Garmin MapSource program while logged in with the desired User account.

2. Click Utilities.

3. Click Manage Map Products

4. Click Unlock Regions

5. Click Add

6. Enter you 25 character unlock code

7. Enter a comment to help you remember which mapping

8. Click OK

loading different sets of maps into microSD card versus GPS internal memory

I bought two 4GB micro Secure Digital cards, and I immediately the smaller 256MB microSD card which came in the unit in the box with one of the 4GB cards -- no problem.

Then I got the idea of loading lots and lots of my USA City Navigator regions into the microSD card. So I connected my GPS unit to my computer and started MapSource. In the GPS unit I went to the main menu page, selected Setup, then Interface, then selected the button at bottom to be a USB Mass Storage device. Then I used the Map tool in MapSource to select lots of map regions, then transferred those regions to the GPS unit in USB Mass Storage mode -- with the idea that I'm putting the map images into the microSD card, not into 60CSx internal memory.

Then I look at the storage on my computer, and I can't find any map images. (? perhaps they're stored as Hidden files ?). But when I use the map view in the normal way on the GPS unit, definitely the detailed roads are there and the GPS is using them.

I also put some GPX "tracks" into the USB Mass Storage, and the GPS unit can find them -- but it refuses to use them for navigation. If I select one of them, the only action it offers to perform with it is to Delete it.

So then I turn the GPS unit off, and restart is in normal interface mode connected to my computer. Then I load just one map region into it -- with the idea that I'm putting that map image into the 60CSx internal memory, independent of what's already on the micro SD card.  But then when use the normal map view on the GPS unit, I find I can see detailed roads only in the single region that I just loaded into normal memory, and I cannot see any detailed roads in other regions -- even though I thought I had successfully loaded those onto the micro SD card and verified them just ten minutes before.

Conclusion: I'm not sure what's going on between 60CSx internal memory versus microSD card -- and how that relates to the "normal" interface between GPS unit and computer,  versus  "USB Mass Storage" interface.

loading two different maps into the two different microSD cards

I also tried connecting the unit to my computer in USB Mass Storage interface, loading lots and lots of City Navigator North American maps onto one 4GB microSD card. Then turn the unit off, remove the card, replace it with a second 4GB microSD card. Then connection the unit in USB Mass Storage interface, and loading lots and lots of City Navigator Europe maps onto this other card.

And it all worked as I hoped and expected. With the first card inside the unit, I could see detailed roads in North America places, but not Europe. With the second card inside, I could see detailed roads in the Europe places, but not in North America.

(? Next step to try: put lots of North America maps and lots of Europe maps on the same microSD card ?)

 

book: guide to USA climbing

09jly review

The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), book by John Summerson (Extreme Press, 2007)

Helpful descriptions of almost 150 climbs on paved roads in the United States (in the East: 1 in NY, 2 in MA, 1 in NH, 5 in VT, 1 in GA, 6 in NC). This guidebook also gives graphical elevation profiles for the 100 most "difficult" - (where the rating of "difficult" is skewed toward long but not necessarily very steep). It does include some info about shorter steeper climbs. And a list of most "10 most scenic / spectacular" climbs, also "10 Must Do climbs".

I guess that skewing the formula toward "long" is the easiest way for one author to get to roughly complete list of 100 most "difficult" which is plausibly objective. Or maybe the author prefers long moderately-steep slogs for his riding. Unfortunately it doesn't fit with what I am looking for nowadays when I'm riding locally or when I'm traveling - (I'm more interested in "steep" and "interesting variability"). But I at least want to know what the long climbs are like in a place I'm visiting, even though I might choose not to do them, so this guidebook is helpful for that.

picky points:

  • accuracy of steepness measurements:  On page 10 the author says it's a problem that other sources of climbing steepness numbers are "inaccurate" -- implying that this book will be very accurate, and that this book will eliminate the problem of multiple opinions about steepness grade for the same climb. But I didn't find any place in the book where the procedures used to measuring steepness over the whole climb (or significant sections of a climb) were described.

Nor was there any careful discussion of sources of error in the measurements reported in the book, nor any attempt to numerical characterizations of the error (e.g. standard deviation). No mention of attempting to measure the same climb using different measurement procedures, or even of applying the same procedure on different days to see how different the results might be.

Actually I don't think getting to a single accurate steepness measurement for each climb is very important, and am comfortable with a diversity of proposed measurements. It's perfectly OK to publish a book with graphical elevation profiles of 100 climbs without offering a clue about how they were measured or why I should believe they achieved some desired level of accuracy. What's odd is for a book to imply a claim of unique accuracy, without offering any specific reasons for why I should believe it.

  • groups of climbs: The book (understandably) focuses on individual climbs, but for a nationwide guide to a bicyclist who's planning to travel somewhere, it would also be helpful to know more about groups of interesting climbs. Since I'm not likely to make an airline flight or a long car drive, just to do one climb. There might be a group of climbs where only one (or none) made it onto a national "best of" list, but as a group they're attractive to want to visit. 

Also it would be helpful to know some good "base camp" towns -- a place where I could stay for two or three days and ride multiple great climbs without moving on.

The national map in the book does point to regions where there's multiple climbs which do make a national list, so that's helpful.

more ideas for climbs in the Catskills

09june

Norm Smith sent me some hills he's enjoyed around the northern and western Catskills. I don't get up that way very often, so I've never tried any of them -- and so I don't know anything about them myself. But in case you like to experiment in your riding, and you're looking for something different . . .

  • Abbey Rd, north of Wittenberg Rd near Woodstock NY. Might have around 1050-1150 vertical feet of climbing at around 8-9% grade -- and some views.

  • Cunningham Rd sort of south west of Durham NY (connects to Greene county rt 10). Might have around 1150 vertical feet of climbing at around 8-9% grade -- some clear sections with farms.

  • Airport Rd / rt 23C, going east from rt 23A near Prattsville. Might have 1000 vertical feet of climbing total, including a section steeper than 20% grade.

Norm has also explored out west in Delaware county. Some climbs he likes there - (which I've never tried, but somebody might want to experiment with) are:  Todd Mountain 950', Mill Brook 870', Barkaboom 1050', Beech Hill 1000', Todd Mountain (back side) 830'.

Bethlehem - Philadelphia PA loop

09june : bikeforums.net + roadbikereview.com/forums

Sharon and I rode from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania into Philadelphia and back last weekend, and it had lots of fun + pretty riding and sights. It's the third time we've done the whole thing, about 145 miles (with hills), plus any sightseeing variations, so for us it's also satisfying as an accomplishment.

(Some of the sections use lots of roads, so probably best done with a GPS to help navigation, and I put the route sections on Bikely.com, which can show maps or GPS or KML, or even printed cue sheets -- see below for links.)

We'd be glad for some suggestions for different roads to try, or interesting places to visit along the way -- or other ideas for big loops to try riding around there.

? Philadelphia? Turns out that in addition to whatever "historic" sights you might or might not care about, it's also got some pleasant + pretty bicycling toward its North side (toward Bethlehem): the two river drives, the neighborhoods of Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill -- and then the northern suburbs in Montgomery county around Whitemarsh.

? Bethlehem? It's 50+ miles north of Philadelphia and it counts as a "significant" goal: the early historic settlements of the Moravians, the Lehigh as the first major river north of the Delaware (and Schuylkill?), Lehigh University, and (just opened) the first casino north of Philadephia. South of Bethlehem is the pleasant + pretty rural area of the Saucon valley, and nearby Allentown has the remarkably pretty Little Lehigh park leading to Emmaus (publisher Bicycling magazine), with pleasant rural riding south of that.

connecting -- Route 29 -- We find it really fun + pretty to ride it south from near Emmaus to Collegeville, early on a weekend morning -- a strong motivator for the whole ride.

resistance -- what holds us back . . . We haven't found a really good way to connect going north (simple + fun like route 29). The obvious candidate candidate was Allentown Rd, which goes a long ways from North Wales / Gwynedd / Sumneytown Pike to Coopersburg (roughly parallel to the Turnpike Northeast Extension). So we tried it, but it wasn't interesting enough for us -- just went on and on. So we substituted a more complicated route that goes thru lots of towns along the Reading railroad Quakertown line (which long ago had train service all the way to Bethlehem). We like that better -- so we've done it three times.

Route sections on bikely.com:
 . . . with maps, GPS, cue sheets . . .

1) Bethlehem - Allentown - Emmaus [BPhB1] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

2) Emmaus - Collegeville [BPhB2] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

3) Collegeville - northwest Philadelphia [BPhB3] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

4) Ridge Av - Manayunk - Philadelphia Museum of Art [BPhB4] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

5) Philadelphia Museum of Art - Mt Airy - Chestnut Hill [BPhB5] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

6) Chestnut Hill - Ambler - North Wales [BPhB6] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

7) North Wales - Hatfield - Sellersville - Coopersburg [BPhB7] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

 . . . variation 7A) less-hilly more-traffic from Sellersville to Coopersburg [BPhB7a] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

8) Coopersburg - Saucon Valley - Bethlehem [BPhB8] - [ map on Bikely | cue sheet ]

 

Should also be possible to find all of them by doing "Advanced Search" on bikely.com for the word "[BPhB]"

more . . .

see also

 

concept words: roberts United States America American USA visit trip vacation holiday visitor report reports

bicycling: bicycle bicycling bike bikes bicycles bicyclist cycle cyclist cycling touring riding rider riders

routes: route routes ride rides tour tours map maps

places: place river valley state country region regions area areas city town village