Lollipops, Loops, and Out and Backs
We're talking bike routes of course! What's your preference? I've always favored the full loop. It forces you to commit to the ride and many times it demands some creativity in the route creation process to complete. You're fully committed when you hit the halfway point and it's just as long to go back the way you came then it is to forge ahead. Why would you go back then, you've got to see what comes up next?
The lollipop is a good alternative to the loop. Again, we're talking routes here, not the sugary variety. Sometimes you're forced to lollipop, whether that's due to limited trail options or route safety concerns. It takes away some of the unknown, which can be good if you're in very unfamiliar territory and uncomfortable with a full loop. If you're lollipoppin', you will will see that same entry point on your way out, so it can put your mind at ease if you have route concerns. But it lacks the full commitment and the adventurous spirit of the loop. This would be second choice if we're ranking the three.
The out and back, tried and true as it is, has it's place as well. Some trails and roads are so sweet, you've got to ride them twice! I've many times climbed a nice piece of singletrack or a cool road and thought it would be great to turn around and ride back down. Due to access, sometimes you're forced to do an out and back route and that's just fine. It's cool to see the differences of the same route, just in reverse. It's also cool to have a tailwind on the way home! It does rank as my final option, but I've many times stuck with the tried and true.
Try looping your next ride. Yeah, it does take a bit more planning sometimes, but that's what Google Earth and Maps are for! Planning is part of the fun anyhow. Plan a route using the Maryville and Alcoa greenways as a way to create a loop. Consider taking on a new challenge, if you've not used your bike for transportation before, and use your bike to run errands and create a loop to knock them out in an efficient manner. If you're already commuting or running errands by bike, bonus points to you!
Take into account who your riding companions will be as well when planning a ride. Taking a newbie or your kiddos? Maybe an out and back is the best bet so you can cut it short if need be. Better for everyone to enjoy themselves then to force adventure down their throat. They will come back for more. Then you can show them the joy of trying a lollipop or being a looper.
Rider or is it writer?
My name is Adam Harris. I'm a lifelong cyclist. I love bikes. All types of bikes. I hope I can relay the joy that cycling provides me through glimpses into my thoughts and some of my mini adventures.