Exploration by bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Exploration by bike

    Bare with me as I only have a collection of thoughts and no specific question or experience to share with this thread, but I wanted generate some discussion and see what others have to say. I've read other threads that touch on aspects of this topic...but for now I'm seeing this as something a little different.

    What I'm talking about is not rides dedicated to the following:
    - skinny tire road riding (I already know all of the roads in my area really well)
    - gravel grinding (like above, but roads would include gravel/dirt)
    - single track riding...like where you drive to the trail head, hop on your bike and ride some nicely groomed single track, and then drive home after. I love these rides, but this is different
    - cross races (or any other type of race, whether it be a loop, point to point or out and back)
    - touring or bike packing: this is probably closest to what I'm thinking with the title of the thread, but I think this is something different, as it may not involve multi-day rides (though it definately could)

    Bikes
    - you would probably need a mountain or monster cross bike...but I guess a "sport touring" bike with decent tires would do too, or a traditional cyclocross bike
    - a fatbike would also do well, in particular when snow may be on the ground
    - while I like mountain biking a lot, I find that it's not as comfortable as riding my cross bike with 40" tires that does great on all but technical single track. So for me, I'm thinking of this type of riding being done on a monstercross (style) bike. I think an ideal bike would not have suspension (efficient on paved/gravel/dirt roads and paths), have tubeless wheels, have disks...but these are just my thoughts and I don't want to debate this point.

    Terrain
    - this is where I think this type of ride is defined, one any particular ride it can involve some or all of the following: paved roads, gravel roads, fire roads (those beat up, narrow roads that are a mix of dirt, grass and maybe gravel), rail trail, double track or single track...or hiking trails (that you're allowed to ride on)...and these may be too technical for riding so you may resort to carrying the bike

    The Ride
    I've done some of this type of riding though at best I would call it mixed surface + areas (routes) I've never ridden before. It's about the scenery as much as anything, where sometimes a familiar route is boring with nothing new, but a slight detour down an unknown path can result in spotting something of interest, or just different. This, for me, is what keeps riding interesting. I still do the traditional road ride too, but I appreciate it more because I'm also doing these other styles of riding. I use to do a lot of traditional road riding and would avoid gravel roads on my 23mm tires pumped to 100+ psi. Then I bought a cross bike (for winter riding) and started using it in the summer to access those roads I was previously avoiding, and this is where I found I was exploring via bike (hence the title). Lately when I've been riding my mountain bike on some local trails, I'm getting off and clearing debris, or walking over/around things I can't clear. I find that I like this aspect of the ride as I can just keep going forward (again, feels like exploring). Lastly, I like looking at a map for those off-the-beaten-path routes...sometimes they go as planned, but I usually mix it up (so I like the planning, but the altering of the plan...).

    That's all I have for now, and would like to hear what others have to say...

  2. #2
    No. Just No.
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    Keeping my answer brief, "yes". Works great even in urban / suburban areas, to change up what you see along the way. A few unplanned but intentional detours can put some spice in a ride with some new sights.

  3. #3
    Ms. Monster
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    Sounds kinda like Enduramil's Kingston thread

  4. #4
    Team NFI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdgirl View Post
    Sounds kinda like Enduramil's Kingston thread
    Kind of. Though credit goes to Marc who did it first a few years ago...can't find the thread.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    Keeping my answer brief, "yes". Works great even in urban / suburban areas, to change up what you see along the way. A few unplanned but intentional detours can put some spice in a ride with some new sights.
    I had one of these rides yesterday, by chance, and it was interesting...

    Was riding not far from home, in the Halton/Acton area (by the gravel pit). I decided to take some gravel roads that I had never been on. I checked them out on a map earlier that day and they looked ok, though kind of remote. I tried going west on 17 SR at 4th line, as I recently noticed that the road extends in that direction, though it was more like a fire road. Tried that but there were huge puddles right at the start, so turned back. An hour later I was heading south on 3rd line (off off 22 SR)...great road, and then it ends all of a sudden...well kind of. It turns into the bruce trail, but the hiking trails shoot off to the sides and this 'road' continues south. It was about 6 feet wide and had (ATV?) tire tracks, and some rocks, but it was rideable. I was on a steel-framed touring bike that is super comfy, with 32mm tires (not the ideal set-up). I did ok for about a click and then noticed it getting darker outside. I decided to turn back as opposed to going forward as I didn't really have the right bike to enjoy it. Well when I turned around the sky was pretty much black and even though it was 6:30pm, it looked more like 8pm...so I hauled ass out of there as I realized the storm that was suppose to come later had arrived.

    Didn't get too wet. All things considered it was a great ride, even though I didn't push on through that interesting section. But I will definately head back there with my monstercross or mountain bike. If you're aware of this area I recommend it, though it can get wet in there so best to let things dry out.

  6. #6
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    That describes a lot of my road rides. I will ride from Mississauga to the East End of the Danforth or into the Beaches meandering through all kinds of routes. I will go into park trails, gravel paths, whatever. This is why I was looking to get a gravel grinder (most of those funds went into my Beargrease) I love exploring the city. Sometimes I take my Chameleon on those treks so I can do some urban assault riding on benches, ledges and other park and street features. I highly encourage non-structured riding.
    Burnt Norton

  7. #7
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    I love taking my cross bike and "riding everything". There is some exploration, but I mostly sort out my routes beforehand by observing routes that others take (thanks, Internetz!).

    Here are some of my ride-everything rides from the past year. Pavement, paved trails, singletrack, gravel, all within Toronto (and sometimes Mississauga):

    Long Way Around

    One Lap of Toronto

    Dirty Tour d'Etobicoke

    Dirty Tour d'Etobicoke Creek

  8. #8
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    That's exactly the type of rides I like to go on. I often incorporate known paths along the Lakeshore, the Humber the Don, and often take off on some tangent if it looks interesting. A road bike will go on a lot of stuff as long as it is dry. Cross bike would be ideal, but out of the cards for a while. It will probably be my next bike at some point. I have ride almost identical to your Etobicoke Creek one except it loops west instead of east. Ride from near Square one up to Matheson and pick up the Creek trails there to the Lakeshore and then road it back home.
    Burnt Norton

  9. #9
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    smarty and secret agent - sounds like you've both been able to enjoy urban riding without worrying too much about cars and traffic. That's great. I'm on the outskirts of an urban area so it's easy for me to get onto country roads and trails, quickly...but you've given me some ideas - thanks!

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