Sunday, June 14, 2009
Best Urban Ride in the US
Yesterday I used our still-spring-like conditions to put the finishing touches on Ronde van Salt Lake City. It’s got to be the best urban ride in the US. Seriously. Okay, so I always say that everything I'm currently doing is the best thing ever. But... seriously. I’m going to organize a group ride in the coming month or so and add coordinates on the web. Everyone should do it. No, really, seriously.
It’s called the Ronde because it’s my version of the Tour of Flanders (or Ronde van Vlaanderen). To mimic the ride (race course that’s marked for the public who ride it regularly), I tried to include all of the elements that make that course so amazing. This includes:
Very few traffic stops
Small winding roads with character
Lots of famous landmarks en route
Great places to eat en route
All of the famous “bergs” in an area (short steep climbs)
Sections of cobblestones
It took me a while, and a fair amount of exploring, to concoct this. But there are very few sections of the entire ride when I’m not looking around and thinking about how cool it is. It’s hard, but not impossible for a weekend warrior. And it’s laid out in a way where those wanting to abridge the challenge can skip hard climbs or sections of “SLC pave”.
I’ll post the exact course later, along with a date for a group ride (which will be a Sunday in the next 6 weeks or so). For now, here is the general scope.
Probably 75 miles.
16 bergs, the longest of which is less than two miles and many are very short.
10 sections of SLC pave, the longest of which is less than two miles and many are very short.
20 or so bridge crossings, most of which are short (over the Jordan River), but all are made of “wooden cobbles”.
It passes by many of SLC’s famous landmarks, including great views of every canyon from City Creek to Little Cottonwood, a bunch of mtn bike and hiking trailheads, a few climbing areas, The Jordan River Parkway and most of its parks, most affluent neighborhoods, the hip neighborhoods, the burbs, the hood, downtown, every major sports venue, the U of U, a quarry (you have to ride through a quarry for full Utah experience), and, of course, the crazy downtown LDS complex.
atypical views for an urban ride
The first 40 miles or so are mainly flat, at which point you’re only about 15 miles from where we’ll start. This makes it a pretty doable ride for most people. Over the next 40 or so you hit most of the climbs and all of the pave. It’s brutal. Over the last 20 or so miles it’s almost never flat. If it were a race, any attack here could succeed as there’s never a point where a group would have a huge advantage for long. During this last section there is only one stop light to deal with, and probably only 20 or so over the entire ride.
cobble sector 8
I picked some of the steepest roads in town, including Zane, K Street, and I Street, but the climbs were chosen more for aesthetics then pure difficulty. One of the coolest climbs winds steeply through a cemetery, another is closed to cars, covered by trees and next to a river. Many crest the benches and offer incredible views. On almost every climb and every cobble section asked myself “how could this be any better?”
It could be better. It could have real cobbles. It could have Belgian food. But they don’t have our scenery, so it stacks up. Because this course doesn’t go into the mountains it’ll be best as a spring ride. Fall will probably come with too much puncture potential (stickers and such). Summer, when I’m doing it this year, can be brutally hot. So this modern classic will officially begin next spring, though I’m giving it a test run soon. And everyone should come. Seriously.
section of single track that's better on a road bike than a hippie bike. seriously.