Philly bicycle training
May 1, 2010 8:46 PM   Subscribe

What are some good cycling routes in Philadelphia? I'm looking for places to train rather than scenic rides.

I've always been an avid cyclist in the commuter/urban-warrior vein. I used to ride 20 miles a day just getting to and from work in addition to hopping around town and what not. A number of factors (not the least of which being a bike theft last year) have led to me being out of practice and totally out of shape. I've finally managed to get a decent bike put together again and it's time to whip myself back into shape.

I'm looking for some solid rides in Philly where i can get some training done with minimal traffic dodging. On a single speed, not a fixie., street bike. i'm looking for:

relatively level (though some moderate hills wouldn't hurt)

paved is a must, no gravel or dirt

minimal cross traffic, pedestrians, rollerbladers, etc.

nowhere i'd have to drive to get to initially.

and yes, i know where most bike lanes are. i also know that they tend to be filled with parked cars, pedestrians, business signs, baby strollers and people inexplicably standing around with their mouths open. they are in south philly at any rate.

thanks for the help, it's all trial and error for now...
posted by swbarrett to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might ask these guys for advice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 PM on May 1, 2010

I use quite a bit to record rides in my area, and have found a couple of good suggested rides, too. Here's a general search for rides in the Philadelphia area. Looks like there are quite a few in the Philly area. You can customize that a bit more, though their search interface isn't the most awesome.

Once you're looking at the map for a ride you can use a variety of very useful views - I like the street map with elevation summary turned on, but the terrain map is also quite nice. Both are good for judging how challenging the climbs will be. Traffic density / road quality probably depend more on your knowledge of the area, but lots of users add notes to their rides along those lines.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:38 AM on May 2, 2010 also has a relatively neat iphone app that will record your ride as you go (using GPS)... handy for keeping track of your route, mileage, and rough estimates on speed throughout your ride.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:40 AM on May 2, 2010

What kind of distances are you talking about? I could write volumes, but distance is important to narrow it down.

For avoiding traffic and ridiculous pedestrians, the best thing to do is to get out of the city as quickly as possible. I have three general exits:

1) through Fairmount Park west of the Schuykill past Memorial Hall; this leads to riding on the Main Line and beyond.
2) through Manayunk; from there, you can either cross Green Lane to the Main Line or hit River Road and/or the Schuykill River Trail to Conshohocken or beyond.
3) through Fairmount Park east, up Hunting Park Ave to Henry Ave, then past Philadelphia U.; this heads to Germantown and the Northwest and beyond.

Any of those can lead to rides from 15 miles to as long as you want them to be. Once you leave the city, though, you're more likely than not going to run into at least one or two inclines that leave you cursing and wishing for more gears.

You can also put together a nice 7-8 mile loop through Fairmount Park. Loosely, start at Boathouse Row, go up Poplar, L on Girard across the bridge, R on Lansdowne, R on N. Concourse, R on George's Hill, b/c Belmont Mansion, L on Chamounix, R on Ford, R on Greenland, b/c Strawberry Mansion Dr, R on Greenland, R on Dauphin, L on Reservoir, R on 33rd St, R onto Girard and that's one loop.
posted by The Michael The at 4:50 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: i forgot to mention distances,

i'd like to get back to a point where doing a solid 10 - 20 mile ride is easy.
then maybe work up to some real distance treks. i don't have a more concrete goal at the moment, though suggestions on what to work towards would be welcome. (marathon of some sort?)
posted by swbarrett at 6:26 AM on May 2, 2010

For something to work towards - There's always the Philadelphia / Manayunk Bike Race, which is a pro race that happens in Philadelphia every year.

There is a course map available here. The section in Manayunk is notoriously difficult, but you can use parts of it to build your own course.

This appears to be a professional race, so I don't know if it's something to work towards for you personally, but if so - enjoy!
posted by kellygrape at 7:20 AM on May 2, 2010

Well, if your goal is 10-20 miles, I'd start out with park loops and out-and-backs on West River Drive on the weekends (it's closed to cars, and the pedestrians aren't bad at all, really. Just avoid charity walk days). Once you start going longer with some more inclines, you can go out through Fairmount Park, up Bryn Mawr Ave, back down Rock Hill Road, and through Manayunk back to the city (that's 15-20, I forget exactly), and out-and-backs down WRD, through Manayunk, and to the Schuylkill River Trail.

For something to work towards - There's always the Philadelphia / Manayunk Bike Race, which is a pro race that happens in Philadelphia every year.

Well, there are three unfortunate parts to this. First, the roads on which the race happened are normally full of cars, generally moving at very fast speeds (viz. Kelly Drive). Second, unless you're running a really small gear on your single speed, going up the Wall isn't realistic. Third, it's a professional race. To race it, you have to be a professional cyclist with a contract to a pro team, where training and racing is your year-round vocation, and one isn't going to get there without serious genetic potential and years of training built on top. Not going to happen for 99.999% of us, even for those of us who race in the amateur ranks.
posted by The Michael The at 5:55 AM on May 3, 2010

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