What Type of Cycling Route Do You Like Best?

 Types of Cycling Route Map

Whether you’re a road cyclist or mountain biker, there are several different types of route types you can take when going for a ride….what type do you like best?

I’m primarily a road cyclist, and my preferred type of ride is one that takes me on a loop from home and back.  When I lived in Austin, I found myself also doing a lot of out and back rides.  For me personally, if it’s this type of ride I prefer the out to be at least 10 or 12 miles so it can be doubled up on the way back.

But I’ve also found myself loving the mountain bike lately and along with this I have learned that there are a whole bunch of ways to classify a route.

So what type do you prefer, and why?  Below is a list of some of the various route types that I know about….feel free to add in any of your own in the comments below.

Road Cycling

The Loop – This is a popular type of ride for many cyclists.  Basically, it’s a ride that takes you around in a full circle so that you’re never double backing down any of the roads you head out on.

The Loop Cycling Route

The Out and Back – This type of ride takes you down a road (or series of roads) and then you trace back your route to come back to where you started.

The Crazy Word Design – With the popularity of GPS and online tracking of rides, there are millions of personal ride routes to be found on the internet.  You’ve also probably seen some of these crazy designs and spelled words that have been posted as well.  I’m still not sure if they are legitimate or not, but funny to look at either way.

bike route spells name

Hill Repeats - Doing hill repeats is everyone’s idea of a good time, right?  Uhhhh, not exactly.  Hill repeats are when you climb one hill (or a series of a few hills) over and over.  You climb up, you ride down….and then do it all over again.

Mountain Bike

I’m taking this list of typical mountain bike routes and names from my friend Greg over at Singletracks.

Figure 8 – Pretty self explanatory….just don’t make yourself dizzy from too many of these.

Lariat – Like a popsicle.  It’s basically a loop with a stick off of it.  Usually you ride the popsicle stick out, ride the loop, and ride the same popsicle stick back.  Is anyone else craving one right now?

Network – Lots of places are actually trail networks.  A network is basically a spiderweb of shorter trail segments that add together and form a cohesive network.  Here’s an example of a trail system with sub-trails: http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/bull-mountain.html.

Shuttle – A shuttle ride is generally a point-to-point route where you ride from one end to the other, but use a vehicle to do the connection.  Usually you take a vehicle high up into the mountains and then ride the trail back downhill.

Shuttle Mountain Bike Trail Route

Loop – A loop for mountain biking would be pretty much the same as on a road bike…..it would just likely have different terrain.  Same thing goes for the Out and Back.

Your turn….which one do you like best?

Shuttle Route photo c/0 http://singletracks.com

  • Jeffrey O’Hara

    Loops or networks that can make a loop. I am almost OCD about not repeating trails. Reversing a trail is OK in a pinch. I will repeat given good enough reason though.

  • Chris P

    Hill repeats on a Gravel loop.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Sounds like fun, Chris. Thanks for adding your comments.

  • http://www.bant-shirts.com BanTshirts

    Road cycling. With me it’s almost always a loop, preferably incorporating a few killer hills (which is not difficult around here!).

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, hills are a guaranteed part of every ride for me as well.

  • Sarah

    I’m a looker on the road bike, but I do change it up depending on what I’m training for.


    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Cool….thanks, Sarah.

  • Tony L

    I live in Chicago on the lakefront. This bike path here is mostly north-south. I am a senior citizen now and can no longer ride five miles into the wind before turning around. As a result I have begun riding what I call ‘horseshoes.’ I ride about a 1/4 mile, but no more than a half mile into the wind then turn and ride a short distance at a right angle to my previous direction, then I turn around and ride the same 1/4 or 1/2 mile with the wind at my back. I don’t care anything about sight seeing. i get my enjoyment out of riding the bike, propelling myself across the pavement. This is very enjoyable to me and can easily ride 20 or so miles doing it. I know it would bore a lot of riders, but not me. This would probably look really weird on one of the GPS trackers.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      What matters most is that you’re out there riding. Whatever works for you is perfect. Thanks for your comment, Tony.

  • Julie Starling

    I’m into destination rides. My favorite rides are to a fun place to eat or a great site to see!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, destination rides are cool. I thought you were going to say Doggie Rides are your favorite.

  • Kevin Hopps

    Although, on occasion, I do enjoy the “getting lost routes”… most of the time, I like routes that have a destination… be it a picturesque vista… a restaurant… a farmers’ market… or just a favorite tavern.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Sounds like you and Julie should go riding together. Yeah, Destination rides are great.

  • http://www.texasmountainbiketrails.com/ Shawn McAfee

    Interesting. When I read this and started thinking about it I was thinking more along the lines of flat, hilly or in between for road, or for MTB it would be climbing, not climbing, rocky, not rocky.

    Personally, I love long extended climbing when my legs are fresh. I think that’s because I’m here in flatland-ville and would have to travel 4 hours for any real extended climbing… meaning I never get to experience it.

    But in regards to the ride types you listed… It depends on my mood, but generally I prefer the loop on the road and a popsicle for the MTB

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I’ve seen your videos….are you sure you are getting out there for a naked popsicle ride?

      • http://www.texasmountainbiketrails.com/ Shawn McAfee

        No worse than crazy thong guy in Austin… am I right?

        Also, I tend to let the wind dictate a lot on my rides as well. Our home has a lot of pastures, fields and more around it. Lots of really heavy gusts of wind to be fought with. So depending on the direction of the wind I will route my rides accordingly

  • Karen

    I’ve always wondered if those routes that spell something are for real.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, I still not sure myself.

  • Jake

    I’ve done a few shuttles, but mostly ride a series of networks.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Cool, thanks Jake.

  • Daniel

    I prefer loops the best. There something about backtracking that just makes me feel like I’m not getting as much out of my ride.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I totally understand, Daniel. Keep on riding those loops.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brennanannie Ann Wilson Brennan

    Road cycling. But my favorite route is the “get lost route” I love to just wander and know that it doesn’t matter how lost I get. I will always get home again.

    • Tim Starry

      no cue card, no map…amazing what you discover


      • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

        Yep, I love those kinds of rides as well. One of the best rides I’ve had in a long time was when I went out exploring on my mountain bike looking for new and undiscovered trails. I felt like a Pioneer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/m.beaky73 Mark Beaconsfield

    The network/loop.
    I am fotunate to live in an area surrounded by a few rivers and creeks all connected by bike paths. I can set out in any direction, follow one of these paths, and then turn off to another in several different directions. As many link up with others along the way, I can create many different loops of varying lengths and difficulty. With rivers and creeks, there are plenty of hills and valleys to ride.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Sounds beautiful…..I really need to come ride there with you one day soon.

      • http://www.facebook.com/m.beaky73 Mark Beaconsfield

        It is Darryl, as you would have seen in my photos. You have to make this happen some day. I would be happy to be anyones tour guide around my area.

  • Tim Starry
    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      From the name, I was expecting it to look differently. Thanks for sharing the route, Tim. I have quite a few rides that I would have to classify as zigzag as well.