Picking a Ride – Things to Consider

Picking a Ride – Things to Consider

On a recent vacation to Glacier National Park we were presented with a pressing dilemma on whether or not to attempt to ride a certain route. The signature road through the center of the National Park is a 60 mile two lane highway named Going-to-the-Sun Road. The highway traverses lush river valleys, parallels glacial lakes, and ascends several thousand feet over alpine mountains. The road is the quintessential epic route for a tandem team with one major caveat. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is the single most trafficked highway within the park with 500,000 plus vehicles traversing the road during its short driving season during the summer (mid-June through mid-September) and the vast majority of that traffic occurs only during the day-light hours.

During our stay at the park we took countless trips in the car up and down the Going-to-the Sun Road. Each and every-time we discussed riding the route on the tandem. Basically we went through a checklist of the pros and cons to the ride:

  1. Scenery
  2. Difficulty
  3. Reward/ Fun factor
  4. Vehicle traffic
  5. Passing lanes/ lane width
  6. Road surface quality and traction
  7. Attentiveness of the average driver (is it bike friendly)
  8. Escape routes in emergency
  9. Alternatives (then back through the above list with the alternatives)

In the end the above decision tree brought us back to the same conclusion over and over again; the route was a no-go. The average drivers are not paying attention to the road, the roadway itself has no shoulder and very narrow lanes, the road surface is rough and pot-holed, during the ascent the edge of the roadway abuts a shear drop, and so on.

At the end of the conversation it was clear that every ride a tandem team ventures on undergoes a mental checklist like the above. As a tandem team the risks are doubled should a serious accident occur therefore the planning and qualifying of a route is incredibly important to the long term safety of your team. Sadly for our vacation this epic ride went off the radar but in the end the alternatives were suitable for lasting memories.

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