‘Get off the road’ is a phrase that every cyclist that spends any amount of time cycling on public roads will be all too familiar with. In general it is voiced with aggression from a passing motorist or passenger. The natural reaction is to react aggressively and to question why should you get off the road. You have every right to be there, just as much if not more so than the passing motorist. But what if you detached yourself for a moment, and instead of becoming emotionally charged, just relax and take it as perhaps good advice. What could that mean?
Get off the road could mean get off the main roads where all the heavy traffic is, and head out on back roads instead. Ireland is absolutely full of them. Clonmel is one of the largest towns in Ireland yet within less than 5 minutes I can be on an abundance of roads where the traffic volume is 1 – 2 cars per hour. Narrow, winding country roads are a nightmare if you are trying to get somewhere in a hurry so the vast majority of aggressive drivers stick to busier main roads where it is possible to overtake and drive faster. There will always be the odd route that is taken as a short cut but you figure these out pretty quickly.
Backroads are the closest thing that you can get to a greenway. Smaller volumes of traffic also mean better road surfaces. Not always smooth tarmac, but very rideable nonetheless. Grass in the middle of the road is not necessarily a bad thing. I see so many cyclists every day of the week on the main road from Carrick to Clonmel and on out to Cahir and ask myself why!
There are so many better, safer and more enjoyable options out there, when you are on your own or in a small group, In large groups main roads make sense but even then you just have to look at some of Robert Powers photos and video clips to see what the Dungarvan CC Back roads group achieve every Sunday morning.
I love to explore new roads and if I arrive at a junction and see a road that I have not been on before, dead end or not I have to check it out. If you are less adventurous and like to know where you are going this is a great site that will calculate the best routes for cycling far away from main roads. You just enter your start point and finish point and if you want one way or return and the site does the rest for you. It is called cycle.travel
Get off the road could mean go off road instead. A great option for winter months where weather conditions will be no excuse any longer. Helps to build fitness and improve bike control, whilst enjoying the adrenaline rush too.
Whatever way you ride your bike, the main thing is to stay safe, and the safest way to do that is to come into as little contact as possible with speeding and heedless vehicles.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay happy.