Gravel Ride Planning

Mostly nonsense. Also riding bicycles inappropriate for off road terrain, off road; GIFs

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Rolf
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:27 am

Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Rolf »

With all the discussion recently about encouraging a diversity of route and ride options, I've been having plenty of conversations with folks who want to create and lead rides—but who don't feel they have the necessary tools or experience.

The best way to get better at ride-planning and leading rides is to simply do it! You'll never be more motivated to learn than when you have a horde of lights behind you, relying on you to find the correct turns and keep things flowing!

Planning rides is mostly stitching together known segments, filling in the gaps with measured risks and exploration, and making sure your mileage, speed, and total ride time accord with rider expectations.

It's good to try something new every time you plan a ride. Not only does it keep things interesting (since it's guaranteed that some or all of your fellow riders will also experience something new), a willingness to explore lets you expand your knowledge of terrain, segments, and what is fun to ride and what sucks. This knowledge then informs your choice of waypoints the next time you click away on a map etc.


Mapping Tools

Speaking of mapping tools, I favour Plotaroute, because
  • it's free!;
  • its mapping tools are fairly intuitive;
  • when you click two waypoints while building a route, you can specify whether it should chart a route between them (a) as a straight line, (b) by road, (c) on foot, or (d) by bike (this saves a huge amount of time! The premium version of the tool also lets you differentiate between road and off-road bicycle, though I've found this a bit spotty.);
  • it has a funky feature called "route timer" that lets you input your predicted average speeds on the flat, as well as enter speed adjustments for inclines and declines of varying severity, and it will calculate your predicted time at every point along the route (important to ensure your crew makes coffee on time!); and
  • it offers multiple layers that can be changed anytime during route-building or viewing, including ones offering contours, roads, satellite imagery, foot paths, bike paths, hill-shading, and the very interesting "world topo" which often has accurate depictions of legal boundaries and parcels as they are registered in the Land Title Office (and is thus very useful for ferreting out public rights of way and avoiding trespassing.)
But there are other options for mapping routes. Strava's Route Builder lets you create and alter routes from previously recorded Strava activities, which is especially helpful when you want to copy some or all of someone else's route that you know worked well. However, Strava is limited in the layers of information it offers on its maps, and sometimes doesn't show trails that are marked on other map sources.

If you need to follow along your route on a handlebar-mounted GPS, I think using a Strava-built route lets you enjoy having both your real-time Strava data and a route-map handy. But experience has shown that being forced to follow a map during a ride can result in slow-downs; it's always better to memorize turns if you can, and if they're new to you, to suss them out on Google street-view in advance so you know what they look like.

There are other online route-building options such as MapMyRide, Ride with GPS, and Bikemap.net. I've tried these at least once, and they each have some neat features, and may have improved since I rejected them in favour of Plotaroute.


Where to Ride

Many of the routes I've mapped using Plotaroute are public and you should feel good about copying or using them for ideas. Routes I've mapped on Plotaroute that turned out crappy in real life have subsequently been marked Private or deleted.

For route ideas, there's the MTB'ers' favourite Trailforks, which offers incredibly detailed information on established mountain biking trails in focused MTB areas—but sometimes eschews the kinds of isolated, multi-use, gravel trails we usually favour on our TSCX rides. I also understand Trailforks only shows sanctioned cycling trails, and not multi-use trails which may in fact allow cycling (as well as foot traffic, horses etc.)

Ron recently pointed me at a global, user-built depository of gravel segments called gravelmap.com, which has led to some really great new local discoveries (and which also looks like it may be valuable for finding trails while travelling abroad.) Ron also found opencyclemap.org which has some trails marked on it that you can't find on other open source maps.

To get route ideas, I also follow a bunch of trailblazing local cyclists on Strava who have shown me so many new trails through their activities. Many of these folks have been riding local trails much, much longer than I have, or suffer from an even more extreme addiction to maps and discovery (I'm looking at you, Magnus!) When I see a red-line pattern from these guys that I don't recognize in my activity feed, I go trace the route and often learn of new places to ride.
At the bottom of this post, you will find a selection of suggested weekday routes.

Where Not to Ride (or to Ride With Care!)

I've created a Google map of Forbidden Cycling Trails that is based on reviews of municipal bylaws, organizational/institutional landowner policies, legal boundaries, and observed signage. It also incorporates input from other Club members. (Thanks to those of you who have made contributions and suggestions; keep 'em coming!)

Once you've built a route, it's a good idea to check it against this "Forbidden" map so you know what you're in for. Riding responsibly and giving restrictions their due, maintains and builds goodwill toward trail-riders, protects the Club's community reputation, and ideally contributes in the long run to growing opportunities to enjoy new terrain. Where restricted trails are built to sustain cycling without erosive effect and there is a complete absence of competing users, there is often a balance to be found between no-harm-done rule-bending and scofflaw-ery. Just be aware that if you've organized a ride on the forum, or are wearing TS gear, you're representing the Club and should ride (and change your Strava settings!) accordingly.

----------------------------------------------__o
---------------------------------------------_\ <,_
--------------------------------------------(_)/ (_)

Finally: everyone should feel good about posting a ride on the forum and leading on any given day! This is especially true for those who haven't led rides much in the past. Change is good! We've also recently had multiple ride options on Sundays and even some weekdays. Growth in our number of regular gravel-riders can likely sustain this change.

I'm sure some of you have lots of good tips to add and I hope you do so down below. (Please also feel free to tell me where I've been full of kaka, hypocritical, or just plain wrong—it will make both me and you a better person. xoxo) I've also asked Roland to pin the post up top for a while so it's easy to find and to encourage others to share in the route-planning fun! :D

Note: though everything here is written in a prescriptive tone (professional hazard!) it is, of course, just my own blathering. None of it should be confused as offishul Tripleshot Cycling Club bizness.

Weekday Route Suggestions

These route suggestions are to help new leaders pick routes appropriate for different ride levels. They are there to be shortened, lengthened, diverted, generally monkeyed with, or ignored completely.

Please let me know if you find errors, or have any comments, particularly if they don't reflect current conditions. A bunch of these were also mapped by Claire (Thanks, Claire!) Names are all my own invention and nothing should be read into them. I mostly just named them so Alan wouldn't.

Queen Mary
CX_1 (16 km) UVic - Queen Alexandra - Uplands
www.plotaroute.com/route/1327752
www.strava.com/routes/2757036043821337198

Wrolf's Wriggles
CX_1 (20 km) Oak Bay - Fairfield - James Bay
www.plotaroute.com/route/1283395
www.strava.com/routes/2757020337158600070

Cutting Through Gordon's Head
CX_1 (20 km) Cedar Hill - Gordon Head - UVic - Henderson
www.plotaroute.com/route/1281085
www.strava.com/routes/2757027730836815470

Johnny "Ten Myle" Tyre
CX_2+ (31 km) UVic - Ten Mile - Oak Bay - Fairfield - James Bay
www.plotaroute.com/route/719970
www.strava.com/routes/2756968203431136418

Wonger's Broadmead
CX_2+ (29 km) Cedar Hill - Broadmead - Colquitz - Beacon Hill
www.plotaroute.com/route/1327761
www.strava.com/routes/2757046824916751750

The Place of Shoaling Waters
CX_2+ (24 km) Vic West - Esquimalt - Beacon Hill
www.plotaroute.com/route/1010117
www.strava.com/routes/2757188389029482954

The Beard's Panama Flats
CX_3+ (31 km) Tolmie - Haro - Colquitz - Panama Flats
www.plotaroute.com/route/1344901
www.strava.com/routes/2765355700489810452

Fennell Wood
CX_3+ (30 km) Gordon Hd - Fennell Wood - Outerbridge - Cuthbert Holmes
www.plotaroute.com/route/1325879
www.strava.com/routes/2756254293566202222

Quick Bottomed Ace
CX_3+ (31 km) Cedar Hill - Quadra - Quick's Bum - HCP - Colquitz
www.plotaroute.com/route/1171599
www.strava.com/routes/2757175308272341614

Claire’s Speedy Elk
CX_3+ (32 km) Beckwith - Broadmead - Grant - Elk - Colquitz - S. Valley
www.plotaroute.com/route/1333608
www.strava.com/routes/2759539728233713220

South Saanich is for the Birds
CX_3+ (29 km) Peacock - Swan - Eagle - Goose
www.plotaroute.com/route/1354174
www.strava.com/routes/2767979619569165120

View Royal to Viaduct
CX_4 (31K) CHGC - View Royal -Trillium - Hector - Colquitz
www.plotaroute.com/route/1354141
www.strava.com/routes/2766824200035536752

Claire’s Weekday Thetis
CX_4 (32 km) Switch - Bellamy - Calvert - Beaver - Broadmead
www.plotaroute.com/route/1354137
www.strava.com/routes/2766820897147958488

The Far North
CX_4 (36 km) CHGC - Cecilia - Christmas - Caldecote - Carolwood
www.plotaroute.com/route/1354165
www.strava.com/routes/2766834292902117232

King Francis
CX_4 (35 km) Beckwith - Quick's Bottom - Calvert - Trillium - Gorge
www.plotaroute.com/route/1306290
www.strava.com/routes/2757024193375609488

Elk Lake Barn Burner
CX_4 (38 km) Cordova Bay - Elk - Colquitz - Gorge
www.plotaroute.com/route/1338925
www.strava.com/routes/2760256854183315676
Last edited by Rolf on Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:00 am, edited 12 times in total.
schouten
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:12 pm

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by schouten »

Thanks for sharing your advice Rolf. I would love to see the TSCX (gasp, Gravel) community grow and flourish. And maybe keep riding in the glorious warm summer sunshine that makes being in the woods even more awesome. Just sayin'...
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Paul Chris
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:34 pm

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Paul Chris »

ROLF
You are a great writer and a natural leader . And usually FUNNY too!

I own 2 cx bikes , one that cost 4X what my $1000 car is worth.
Perhaps it is time I got on it??

Please summarize the latest banter about slower riders, like me,and a slower group.

There are more tripleshot NEW CX riders that I can encourage to join THE RENEGADES👿 ( a1% bikers club.)google it.

Thanks
P.C.
JTyre
Posts: 790
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:41 pm

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by JTyre »

Paul Chris wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:20 am Please summarize the latest banter about slower riders, like me,and a slower group.
There are more tripleshot NEW CX riders that I can encourage to join ...
Paul, all are welcome regardless of experience, ability, or fitness.
Last edited by JTyre on Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Rolf
Posts: 2623
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:27 am

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Rolf »

Dear PAUL:

Unused bikes are sad, whatever they cost! You should just come out. You will receive no more formal an invitation than this.

Club gravel rides are no-drop. We try to ensure anyone can show up and have fun. This means some riders have to cool their jets and do some waiting around. But keeping things together and riding at the pace of the slowest rider is, after all, the Tripleshot way.

It's in the nature of these rides that we regularly put a foot down as we emerge from trail sections and do a count before continuing. This still happens with a group of evenly matched, experienced riders. So, waiting a little longer for riders who are still getting accustomed to riding off-road is much less of a disruption than, say, if a C rider joined B1 on the road.

I hope this makes you feel more comfortable showing up. Sure, you're slow on a cross bike, in the woods, at night. But so are lots of people! And some of those people started riding with us anyway and are now ripping it up like nobody's business (I'll let them self-identify...)

With our increase in numbers and occasional splitting of groups, there has been some motivation to try to form faster and slower groups (even to calling them A and B.) But there is also resistance to this as it can be antithetical to the culture we've developed over the past few years of prioritizing fun, socialization, and inclusiveness over ensuring everyone gets a serious workout and has chances to hammer (or even train. :mrgreen: ) Despite this, most of us finish our rides having had a decent sweat.

This resistance to labelling fast v. slow groups is admittedly a different approach from the road side of our Club and—in our anarcho-syndicalist sub-commune—it's subject to ongoing discussion and may change. I encourage others with opinions to chime in! Certainly some weekend rides (and even some weekdays) are ambitious enough to require a certain pace to complete within time constraints. But ride organizers often signal expectations by mentioning a ride will be a little pacier etc. Just keep an eye out for that.

A final point you hardly need to be told :wink: : our gravel rides lend themselves well to riders dropping off early. In fact, it's rare that we make it to coffee with everyone we start with. Because our routes are often circuitous, it's easy to leave us, hit the road, and be almost anywhere in Victoria within 15-20 minutes. Many regular riders take off part way through a ride because they need to get home earlier, their sensations aren't good, or for other reasons. We only ask that departing riders ensure other riders know their departure is intentional—so we don't all scour the woods looking for them!

Hope to see you out there someday, Paul—and others who may think their skills or fitness are somehow not up for joining in the fun!
Greg F
Posts: 345
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:58 pm

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Greg F »

Good posts Rolf!

For those a little intimidated/unsure of the mapping tools, strongly encourage the "old school" methods - share the general area you'll be exploring, try to make a mental map, then carry an app to figure it out as we go (someone may already know parts, of course) Part of the fun is figuring out the ways around, and I find the only way to really learn is to lead it/go solo.

I would also add "AllTrails" as a very useful app to have. Of the map apps I've tried, its the most comprehensive and accurate (none of them are 100% accurate or cover EVERY little trail we use). It also allows you to download the maps to your phone, so should you venture WAAAAY off trail to areas outside of cell coverage, you can still figure out exactly how far away from civilization and coffee you really are. Some of its weaknesses - you can't always tell if a trail is bike-friendly or even rideable just by looking at the map, and not all of the trails are labelled. But overall, its pretty good.

Now go forth!!
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Claire
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Location: Saanich

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Claire »

I just revisited this post and am buoyed by the enthusiasm and the helpful resources it offers, plus all the usual excellent support from Rolf and other gravel-loving club members.

I do feel it's worth reviewing the "Forbidden cycling trails" map that Rolf shared from time to time to ensure we're all upholding our agreement as members of Tripleshot to stay off trails where cycling is not allowed. Sadly, a lot of the forbidden trails remain fun and enticing additions to our rides but that doesn't exempt us from obeying the rules.

Fun, tempting but illicit trails include Mystic Vale, Henderson chip trail and anywhere with posted "PRIVATE PROPERTY" signs.

Let's continue to exemplify positive cycling behaviour and attitudes on our club rides and others we undertake on our own so Tripleshotters remain exemplary cycling citizens, the envy of our community! :D
Alan
Posts: 915
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:19 pm

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Alan »

Please allow me to emphasize the fact we need to take Claire's words seriously, while also permitting me to sink into the muck and share with you some of my favourite non sequitur gifs. No flying monkeys permitted...


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Alan
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Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Alan »

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Alan
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Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Alan »

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Alan
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Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Alan »

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Alan
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Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by Alan »

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JTyre
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Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:41 pm

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by JTyre »

Press this.
mfarnham
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Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:56 am

Re: Gravel Ride Planning

Post by mfarnham »

A little more information on some off-limits areas (Watershed especially). This is from the CRD:

*******
Good morning Martin,

Thank you for your patience. I’ve been advised that the following pages on our website are updated to include further information relating restrictions around the Greater Victoria Water Supply Area:

https://www.crd.bc.ca/parks-recreation- ... reat-trail (Includes restricted area map and additional info within the content on the page. Letter will not be posted.)

https://www.crd.bc.ca/parks-recreation- ... ng-cycling (Info has been added relating to the restricted areas in the Great Victoria Water Supply Area.)

Sharing this information within your network is greatly appreciated.

Best regards,
Aline
*******

Best,
Martin
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