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Thread: How to get SxSW?

  1. #1
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    Default How to get SxSW?

    I am in need of help to design an "escape route" from the Crystal City area to head either south or southwest into the heart of VA.

    Last year I designed a 200mile weekend ride up past Gettysburg and back again. I stayed in a cheap motel in Biglerville, PA and rode back the next day. It was a lot of fun, but I am also very familiar with riding in MD and PA so deciding which roads to take was fairly easy. Also, I love planning bike trips! If I could do it for a job that would be the best thing ever. I only had minor qualms about my route choices for my tour last year, but for some reason VA really intimidates me! Especially the nearest 10-15 miles! That's probably because I know what it can be like out there. Crazy. It's all superhighways, multilane expressways, some with side trails, some with 2-3' of shoulder... or really narrow country lanes which if they're busy can be much much worse than the highways.

    Since I've already gone north and done a lot of riding to the east and west, I want to head either south toward Richmond, or to the southwest past Culpeper toward Shenandoah. If any of you have any routes you've already designed or rides you've done and want to share I'd love to see them!

    I have the AC Atlantic Coast map to go south if I have to use it. I just checked the search options on mapmyride and there were some decent options there, but also I think there were some questionable road choices - Likes Route 28 -> 29/15 between Manassas and Culpeper? It looked like it had a decent shoulder on streetview, but that's basically all highway and I just don't know. Overall the goal is to get a blend of quiet back roads that also get somewhere right?

    Anyway, thanks for the help! I don't have any set plans on when I'm doing this, so I have plenty of time to figure something out.

  2. #2
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    I don't know squat about Virginia but I sure would like to know what your preferred route to Gettysburg was.

  3. #3
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    Here's my route north:
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/42279498

    And here's my route back home again:
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/42283346

    They weren't ideal routes I guess, but I've ridden up to Mt. Airy a couple of times so I knew that part pretty well. I tried to avoid Rock Creek trail as much as possible too, but that's hard to to without criss-crossing it several times having to go down then UP each time through the valley. Essentially the first 25 miles and the last 25 miles were the same. I tried to throw in some new scenery in northern MD though. Also, for full disclosure, Woodville Rd, north of Mt. Airy has some ridiculous hills on it coming back, so I wanted to avoid those if possible too.

  4. #4
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    Can't help you with the route, but 29 between Manassas and Culpeper is some high speed road. Some decent wide shoulder but some narrow too with screwy sight lines and crap whizzing by at 70mph. You're a better man than I if you do that one..

  5. #5
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    I'd stay off 29 SW of Manassas - CC's right, and I drive that route often enough to think about it wistfully and what it could be with a little help from a grader and a lot of asphalt. I do see some bike route signs here & there, so there is something criss-crossing the area. Just don't know where it goes. Maybe some researching ridewithgps, mapmyride, garmin, etc., and ask on the PPTC email list or @ DC Raddoneurs for suggestions.

  6. #6
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    americancyclo is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    I'd definitely avoid 29. I've ridden the back roads from Stanardsville to Charlottesville west of 29 and the folks we did encounter on the country roads seemed pretty cool about us being there. I'd stick to as many small roads as possible. You might end up winding around a bit, but that might be half the fun!

  7. #7
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    Doesn't get you west as much as it does south, but there's the not-entirely-theoretical US Bicycle Route 1. I've only ridden the bits up here and in Richmond, and can't really speak to how suitable it really is, but I know Virginia's put more work into it than most. Check it out here - http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/...n_virginia.asp

  8. #8
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    Thanks Mark. Actually, Bike Route 1 seems like a decent option. At least for getting from the city through the ring of urban sprawl where cars are King to the quieter country roads. Once I got down to Aden on the NW corner of Quantico, I could pick my own route to go west, southwest, or south.

    I find that with a system like that when you have to ride on heavily trafficked roads you have more confidence when you have the backing of the State Gov't, because you're on their chosen route. You feel like you belong a bit more, in contrast to feebly encroaching on all of these drivers' space. That's how I felt riding on the PA Bike Routes. They use a lot of state routes which can be busy, but they're signed and drivers must be used to bikes on those roads by now.

    Also, I found a slightly better route on ridewithgps than what was on MMR (thanks KS1G), so I could probably just connect these together and schedule my trip.
    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/192222

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by creadinger View Post
    I find that with a system like that when you have to ride on heavily trafficked roads you have more confidence when you have the backing of the State Gov't, because you're on their chosen route. You feel like you belong a bit more, in contrast to feebly encroaching on all of these drivers' space. That's how I felt riding on the PA Bike Routes. They use a lot of state routes which can be busy, but they're signed and drivers must be used to bikes on those roads by now.
    All of the above is bullsh*t! Route 1 is ridiculous and insane. The planners that designed the bike route should be embarrassed for taking cyclists that way. I'd rather ride on I-95! At least it has a shoulder and the asphalt is better than poor condition. Bike Route 1 will never be a real thing because to make it work they'd have to meander all over the place to find suitable roads and in the mean time they'll suggest cyclists ride some of the worst roads for cycling imaginable.

    Instead I'm going to take Telegraph road down to Lorton. That actually makes sense because the road has a shoulder, turning lanes, and even a bike lane in sections making it much easier for cars to pass safely. And by safely I mean more than 3 inches of space.

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