Finding the Good Roads

If you’ve lived and ridden in one area for a long time, you probably know all the good cycling roads in a few hour radius of home. But if you’re new to an area, you can spend weeks finding dead ends, gravel, quaint roads that become thoroughfares, and all other sorts of adventures. If you’re lucky enough that one of the sages of your area’s cycling scene has documented the best routes around, your life will be much easier.

I was happy that during my time in Madison, Wisconsin the Bombay Bicycle Club put together their collective wisdom in Great Dane Rides (by Michael Bieberitz), which served as a tremendous resource for me for more than a decade. It’s a simple book of ride maps and descriptions sorted by difficulty and distance and spiral bound. It even included a note that encouraged the book’s users to photocopy pages to take along on rides. The only thing better would have been water-proof foldable maps that I could have reused more times.

If you’re in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, we’ll hit the map, too. Joel Howell has compiled his years of riding in the area into the Washtenaw County Bike Rides book from the University of Michigan Press. The included rides feature many local jaunts, as well as those that stretch well beyond the county but pass through Washtenaw at some point.

If you’re looking for guides to riding in your area, search for books or resources put together by local clubs, travel and tourism agencies, or just passionate cyclists. Long time residents are sure to find new routes or rediscover lost ones, and cyclists new to an area can get on with finding the best roads, routes, and terrain without the near death experiences I’ve happened upon in new cities.