Routine. Our day-to-day schedules are governed by it. Some people require the consistency, while others thrive for the unexpected. I think a little bit of both is important for a healthy lifestyle. The same goes for cycling. Sometimes you need to mix it up and try something new. I can appreciate the local trail, knowing every root, rock, drop and turn. You know when to push it and when to pull back. But where’s the excitement? That rush from pushing down through a new section, with no clue what’s in store next is when things really get fun. You hit something and then instantly realize it was a little bigger than you thought it was going to be—that oh shoot moment. The extra adrenaline rush keeps me alive, keeps me wanting more, keeps me from flatlining.
But in order to get that rush you need to get out there and find new trails or new roads to explore. If you have trouble doing that, I have a few tips that should help you along.
Join a club!
Becoming a member of a cycling club is usually a good way to get out there and do some exploring. All of your new friends will know of trails and roads you’ve never explored. Get involved and go on some Saturday morning rides with a group. USA Cycling has a list of clubs in each state that you can use as a resource to get started
The lovely people up in Mountain View, California have recently been adding a lot of bike friendly features to their online mapping software. When browsing Google Maps, a newer option allows you to specify bike friendly routing.
From there, the website will display trails, dedicated lanes, bicycle-friendly roads and unpaved trails with a map key so you can distinguish which is which.
Read a Book
Local trail guidebooks can be an invaluable resource. There is a very good chance that someone in your area has written a book all about the trails in your area. Books will usually have detailed descriptions of the ride, points of interest and difficulty levels for all the trails. Check out your local bookstore or an online reseller. Even places like Amazon will have books for sale dedicated to specific areas like this paperback suggesting rides in the Seattle area.
Strava—Not ony for KOM’s
If you aren’t already familiar with Strava, it is an website/smartphone app where you can upload ride data from your compatible GPS computer or GPS enabled smartphone. People use the site to compete against each other for the best times on predefined “segments.” Anyone on the site can create a segment on his or her favorite trails. Using Strava’s Segment Explore feature can reveal some of the more popular segments in your area. Not only will it show you some cool new rides, but also the leaderboard of fastest times will encourage a little friendly competition. It’s free to sign up, and if you don’t have a GPS compatible cycling computer, there is an iPhone and Android app that will allow you to join in the fun. [Bonus: Become a member of the Art’s Cyclery Strava Club for exclusive opportunities at contest giveaways available only on Strava.]
Online Forums, Blogs and Magazines
Online and print publications will likely feature adventures from the writers; our site sure does. Keyword searches for places near you will reveal articles about trails in your area. Forums such as MTBR.com and RoadBikeReview.com can also shed light on where to get your next two wheeled fix. Spend some time surfing the deepest depths of the web and see what you can dig up.
One of these resources is bound to produce countless new miles of trails and roads for you to explore. Fill up your bottles, grab a friend and get to it.
Rubber Side Down is a weekly column dedicated to the fledgling cyclist in all of us. Art’s Cyclery Web Content Editor, Brett Murphy is not a professional cyclist, and doesn’t try to masquerade as one either, but he does love to ride bikes. Whether you are clipping in for the first time or counting down the days until your first race, read on, learn from his mistakes, and keep the rubber side down.