When I first bought a road bike in summer 2010, I had no idea what I was doing. And today, I’m still learning. Road riding is much different than taking your old mountain bike out of your parents’ garage and going for a spin around the neighborhood. Road biking involves following rules and learning to ride with traffic.
Safety is the most important aspect of riding on the road. If it’s you vs. a car, it’s pretty evident who is going to win. However, once you learn the ropes of riding in traffic, the next question is – Where can I ride? Typically, I strive to find a route that has biker-friendly roads without too much traffic.
My biking friends and I assembled a few safe, local destinations for road riding.
Fishing Creek Valley Road - This ride provides nice scenery and some good hills. I like riding here because it’s a long stretch – and therefore hard to get lost! Additionally, while there is traffic, it isn’t too bad and the road isn’t too narrow either.
The Capital Area Greenbelt - My first real ride on my road bike was on the Greenbelt. My friends Kaylan, Joe and I rode the 20-mile loop twice on a sunny Sunday that summer. It’s not the best route for a road bike, because sections of it can be a little rocky. However, I think it’s great for beginners who aren’t quite ready to handle traffic. I still ride it occasionally because I can pick this up a few blocks from my apartment and get in 20 miles without too much effort on my part.
Front Street – The Catfish Triathlon uses this route, it’s an easy 15 miles. Start at the parking garage near City Island. Ride over the bridge and turn left on to Front Street heading north past Division Street. It’s a straight ride to Fort Hunter, where you can turn around or keep going. It’s a nice, flat, easy ride.
Route 443 – My friend Steve, an avid biker, often bikes on Route 443 and highly recommends this route if you want to go for a longer (40 miles +) ride. You can pick it up near Fort Hunter and ride the stretch for miles and miles, but there are places to cut it off for shorter rides. Additionally, there are several good climbs along the way. (Sleepy Hollow and Asher Minor are two of the best … or worst depending on your perspective!) The road has relatively wide shoulders and not much traffic.
Mount Gretna – The Got the Nerve? tri uses a 15 mile route through the area. Here’s a map and directions. It would be a great practice route for triathletes, especially anyone doing this tri in a few weeks!
Both Bike Harrisburg and Harrisburg Bicycle Club also offer some suggestions. Additionally, I highly recommend the strava app, which is easy to use and will automatically track, map and compare your rides and any rides your friends have posted.
Where do you normally ride your road bike? Please share!