Author Topic: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?  (Read 1663 times)

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Offline Stevenp

Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« on: May 16, 2011, 11:51:12 am »
I am in the process of planning my route from SC to KY where I will be picking up on the TA for the rest of the way. Now, I am using Google to map sections at a time with the bicycle route option. After google gave me the route, i have looked at the street view for sections of the road and am finding that there are long sections where there is no shoulder.

Is this something that is normal in planning routes and something I will have to deal with, or should i be looking for roads that always have a shoulder? Google seems to do a good job except for a few places where there are no shoulders and I just find it hard to imagine cycling for all that long on the edge of 1 of the 2 lanes for miles.

I would appreciate your input.

Also, any particular website good for locating camp sites along the way?

Thanks guys!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 12:07:42 pm »
No shoulders is pretty common for low-traffic routes, particularly in the mountains. 

Unfortunately, google maps won't show you the traffic density for a road.  It's not a big deal when you're dealing with 5 cars passing you each hour, except Mr. Murphy will insist three cars will pass you at the same time as the other two are coming towards you.

Check out "vehicular cycling" for some tips on how to handle this situation.  Basically, remember you aren't impeding traffic, you ARE traffic in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.  (And the rest of the states.)  Take the lane when there's not room for you and a car passing you in the same lane, or when they can't pass you safely because of a blind curve or hill, and help them pass you when it's safe.

Particularly for your intended route, I'd advise you to deal with it.  If you insist on roads with shoulders, you're going to be dealing with high speed, high volume traffic, which is no more safe than winding, low traffic roads, and is probably more dangerous.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 01:12:59 pm »
Perhaps useful:

http://www.sctrails.net/Trails/ALLTRAILS/Bikeguide/biking.html

Although I love the massive disclaimer that calling these touring routes does not imply that they are safe for cycling.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 02:26:01 pm »
I highly prefer no-shoulder roads. For the most part (not entirely), they have much less traffic than roads with shoulders. Most state departments of transportation issue a cycling map (paper or web) that shows traffic volumes and shoulder widths by road. If I picked roads using a criteria of shoulders alone, I would pick all the wrong roads.

Offline Stevenp

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2011, 02:46:52 pm »
Ok, that makes sense. I am trusting google to show me the right path. I like the option of getting the sky view of the roads, that helps.

Thanks guys for the input!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 03:51:03 pm »
I concur. A shoulderless road with little traffic is just fine for cycling. It's the volume of traffic that matters a lot when it comes to roads.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2011, 06:38:23 am »
I am trusting google to show me the right path. I like the option of getting the sky view of the roads, that helps.

Depending on what you consider the "right" path, be careful with that, especially out west.  In more remote places, you won't always find Street View or the satelite images useful, and Google may send you over unpaved roads.  For example, pick Philipsburg, MT as a starting point and then ask for bike directions to Hamilton, MT.  Google will route you over the Skalkaho Highway (MT 38), which tops out at 7,300 ft.  You can see part of it on Street View.  What is hard to realize, however, is that the road turns to dirt for a long stretch, including the narrow, twisty, switchback-filled, guard rail lacking west slope.

http://www.videosurf.com/video/going-over-skalkaho-pass-anaconda-to-hamilton-montana-1205944563

(Watch once the descent starts.)


Personally, I am looking forward to that adeventure, but others might not consider it the right path.

Offline Stevenp

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2011, 07:48:07 am »
Watching that video got me excited!

I decided to go with 32s for my tires. They are the Schwable Supremes. Would my tires be to thin to, for example go on a dirt road like that one? Is the dirt usually packed hard enough or are my tires too thin and I should avoid any dirt roads?

Thanks for the help.

Offline jsieber

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2011, 08:27:09 am »
Watching that video got me excited!

I decided to go with 32s for my tires. They are the Schwable Supremes. Would my tires be to thin to, for example go on a dirt road like that one? Is the dirt usually packed hard enough or are my tires too thin and I should avoid any dirt roads?

Thanks for the help.

I think that you would be fine on 32 on dirt roads similar to that. I ride dirt roads on 32 cyclocross tires all the time and find them to be perfect.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Planning Route - NO Shoulders...common?
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2011, 09:00:17 am »
I agree that 32s would probably be good for that type of surface.  Some unpaved road can be more rocky and gravel covered.  The worst is when they are washboardy.  We are going to have a 20+ mile section between Melrose, MT and Twin Bridges where that is a distinct possibility (not available on Street View, but research suggests so) so I am going to stick with the stock 37s my LHT came with.

http://www.montanapictures.net/twin_bridges_montana_storm_three.htm