Did you ever notice that nearly every tour operator offers to take you on the quiet, peaceful lovely roads and lanes that “only the locals” know? 

Hey, wait a minute. If they are not local, how do they know about the peaceful, quiet road that “only the locals” know?  Okay, give them credit. Maybe they’ve been to your destination.  Maybe they’ve done the research. In our experience, there are two truths about cycling tours and quiet roads.

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Quiet climb up Col de la Croix de Fer

Truth # One
Today “local knowledge” is becoming available nearly everywhere. If you have the time and skills, you too can ferret out all the details. Cyclists generally find those calm streets and paths and the knowledge spreads from local rider, to club, to local bike shop, to local tour operator, to the internet (you have heard of mapmyride.com or ridewithgps.com?).  And the knowledge spreads rapidly.  Last summer a new bridge crossing Cherry Creek opened in Denver.  Within a few days, cyclists were all over it. Within months, that bridge looked like it had been there forever on online maps.

If you plan to ride around Napa Valley, a Google map search reveals only so many roads. So with access to the internet and GPS, the local advantage disappears. Using online map tools, other sources and our memory, we find the same peaceful, quiet roads we climbed up and cruised down in 1996’s California Wine Country.  To confirm the lovely tarmac is as perfect as it was then a simple phone call to a local bike shop or club answers our inquiries.

Truth # Two
Sometimes there is only one road to take.  If you want to go from Briançon to Valloire, the shortest and most direct route is over the Col du Galibier.  It’s exactly where everybody else will be! But if you want to ride from Alpe d’Huez to La Grave, Google maps will display three cycling routes and three different automobile roads. And we are back to truth # one. 

So go map reading. Remember to read the map keys. (e.g. green routes on MIchelin maps indicate scenic routes.) Then select a route with the fewest and best located towns, roads without tunnels, paths over enticing passes, the smallest street or the longest course between your start and finish. You’ll most likely select the quiet road and find one of those tour companies there too!

Tail winds and thanks for reading  (LIKE us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/buildyourtourllc)

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