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08 December 2010

Cycle-commuting-as-videogame [More:]

A friend and fellow racer recently got an HD videocam with a helmet mount, and had the idea to link together the longest unbroken, unrepeated stretch of bikeway riding he could compile here in our fair city of Boulder. It's a surprising amount, considering that Boulder proper is not that big areawise, and this is just the stuff within city limits. There are literally hundreds of miles of trails on open space in the surrounding rural parks and greater metro area.

I'm not certain of the time or mileage here, but my daily morning commute can be seen from 1:57 to 2:30 or thereabouts. My commute is 5 km, takes 12 minutes on the path, and 16 minutes door to door; the house and office are each a couple blocks from the bikeway. I've personally ridden every inch of route contained within the video many, many times over, however never all in one go... but now I have a new goal!

I especially like the part where he included a couple of well-known semi-bootleg sections (the "singletrack bonus" and "cyclocross bonus") which are theoretically not "official" pieces of bike path owing to some weird access rights kerfuffles, but they are on well-travelled routes nonetheless and you won't get ticketed for using them.

I had a job/house situation for about six months where I negotiated the "cyclocross bonus" piece twice daily, and therein lies a tale of how our city parks and open space folks can (in many instances) be pretty darned cool for a bunch of government bureaucrats. This particular piece of trail is a spot where in order to get from one section of bikeway to another, you must go under a state highway bridge, then cross the Burlington Northern Railway. Owing to some long-standing arcane legal bureaucracy between the state, the city and the railroad, the parks and open space folks have somehow never managed to secure access rights or funding to install a grade level crossing for the bike path... so they simply paved the path as far as they possibly could on both ends, installed a sign saying "Bike Path Ends" next to a convenient gap in the fence near the bridge, and let nature (and lazy cyclists) run its course. There's now a well-beaten in path through there - if you're using skinny tires you'll definitely have to dismount and carry the bike over the tracks and railbed gravel, but I have certainly negotiated it successfully on my dual suspension bike. You indeed have to watch for trains, however it's a ruler straight track, so you can see them coming for over a mile in either direction, and failing that you'd hear the horns at the nearby highway crossings on either side long before you'd ever be in danger of getting hit. The city, where challenged by the RR administration, apparently just shrug and say "it's not city property and we're not responsible for fixing the fence..." and so far (15 years) it's never been addressed.
I spent the summer of '94 living and riding around Boulder. That video was a total blast from the past, although it was too speedy for me to recall the exact sections. I'm amazed at how viscerally I still recall those paths; the swooping curves, the underpasses with all the swallows flying about; the prairie dogs observing from just out of reach. That was a fun summer.
posted by Triode 09 December | 00:22
Looks great lfr.

I can recommend anybody who's into biking a holiday in the Netherlands btw.
It's only when I spoke to some bike crazy Canadian expats that I realised how extraordinary it is that in the Netherlands there's a web of bike paths that spans the whole of our country. And there are signs to guide you along all of them.
And that's just for commuting. There are a lot of special scenic long biking routes as well.
posted by jouke 09 December | 12:57
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