May 08

Starry Nights Bike Path

Starry Nights bike path in the Netherlands

illuminated bike path

Back to the Future Bike Path

A very futuristic Dutch Starry Nights bike path pays tribute to Van Gogh and one of his most iconic paintings. This glowing bike path is in the town of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. (see map below) Eindhoven is southeast of Amsterdam and was once home to Vincent Van Gogh. Daan Roosegaarde, the artist who created this path, wanted to pay tribute to both Van Gogh and the Netherlands cycling culture. The result was this half mile stretch of bike path that is lit up with thousands of glowing LED lights. Not only is it a great place for riding bikes, but it’s also a popular spot for first dates. Wow this just keeps getting better. exercise, recreation, the arts AND romance. Leave it to those ingenious Dutch folks to get so much bang for their buck. Ya gotta love it!!

map showing where Eindhoven is in the Netherlands

Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Thanks to Trailsnet subscriber Audrey for submitting this blog-post idea and to NPR for their A Glowing Bike Path Inspired By Van Gogh story.

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May 01

The Difference Between Bicycle Routes & Bicycle Trails

Bicycle Routes Are Not the Same as Bicycle Trails

It can be frustrating to search for destination bike trails when planning an active travel tour. Attempting an internet search using the keywords best bike trails in Europe will likely produce nothing but web pages about bike routes rather than bike trails. This is somewhat true in the United States, but even more so in Europe. Looking for trail tours results in a similar outcome. There are many of us who love to plan our active vacations around bike trails, but it’s difficult finding tours & trails. This is mainly because travel companies & the tourism industry in general don’t get the difference between bicycle routes & bicycle trails.

Route of the Hiawatha trail in Idaho

Bike Trail

Bicycle Trails

A bike trail can go by many different names: bike path, greenway, cycleway, bicycle boulevards. But what they (should) have in common is that they are completely separate from any form of motorized traffic. Completely separate is the key phrase. So bike lanes, even if they are protected lanes, do not constitute bike trails or bike paths. Touring on a bike trail is a completely different experience than road touring or touring on a cycle route. Touring on a bike trail offers safety, scenery and community. The safety is obvious since bikes won’t be mixing with fast-moving cars & trucks. The scenery is something that people don’t fully realize until they’ve experienced trail touring. By taking away the constant threat of cars, bike riders are able to relax & enjoy their surroundings. They can look around, stop whenever they want and generally focus on the scenery rather than their safety. The community comes from the same source. Because riders are free to travel at their own pace and stop at random, without worrying about traffic, they tend to meet other riders more easily. They also tend to interact with those riders throughout their journey. It’s almost as if the trail becomes the common bond of a disparate band of travelers.

bike route sign

Bike Route

Bicycle Route

Bicycle routes are often mistakenly called bicycle trails. A Bicycle route may contain sections of bike trails, but they are usually heavily dependent upon roads, streets and/or highways to connect the trails. If over 20% of a particular passage is on roadways of some kind, then it is a bicycle route as opposed to a bicycle trail. Bicycle routes are often signposted and linked with helpful amenities such as accommodations, eateries & interesting (scenic or historical) attractions. So Bicycle routes are desirable, but not quite up to the standards of a bicycle trail in terms of safety and relaxation.

Examples of Bike Trails and Bike Routes

The Great Allegheny Passage is an example of a bicycle trail. It is safe, easy to follow, scenic, historic and, most important, free of traffic. It is possible that a bike trail such as the Great Allegheny Passage may contain road crossings or occasional short sections of riding alongside a road; but in general, it is free of the usual foul smells and dangers of road riding. On the other hand, La Loire a Velo in France, often called La Loire a Velo trail, is actually a bicycle route … for now. They are doing a wonderful job of gradually expanding the trail portions of the route. But at the present, it is still a bicycle route with long sections of road riding.

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Apr 26

Mountain Bike Project Trail Maps

Maps from MTB Project

There’s no place like home, and the following map from MTB Project shows why there is indeed no better trail place than Boulder, Colorado. Of course this map shows just a small fraction of the wonderful trails in the Boulder areas, but it includes some great ones like:

  • Betasso Trails
  • Walker Ranch Trails
  • Marshall Mesa Trails


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Apr 17

Trail Gear Suggestion: Coatback

What is Coatback?

Coatback jacket storage system in portable container.

Coatback is Portable

Coatback is an ideal solution for those trail days that start out chilly but warm up as the day goes on. Doesn’t that sound like pretty much every day on the trail? It does for me, so that’s why I appreciate the Coatback.The mantra for how to dress on the trail is, “Dress in layers.” And that’s a good suggestion. Except what do you do with those layers as you begin to peel them? The Coatback provides the answer to that question. It allows you to wear that excess clothing safely and securely on your back. To fully understand this, please take a look at the video located at the end of this blog post.

Why Coatback?

This question is best answered in the ubiquitous bulleted list:

  • Coatback is extremely compact and can be stored in your daypack or bike bag.
  • Coatback is easy to use
  • Coatback allows you to carry your jacket or other clothing in a way other than the yuppy “tie it around your waist” technique.
  • Coatback allows you to quickly add or shed clothing throughout the day according to weather conditions.
  • Coatback is good for active trail use to compensate for varying levels of activity that might leave you cold one minute and sweating hot the next.
  • Coatback is easy to carry for active travel such as on hiking trips, bike trips, ski trips and more.

Standard Trail Gear

If you’re like me, you have a collection of indispensable trail gear for all occasions. Whether you are a biker, hiker or skier, you have a stash of clothing and equipment that you raid before each trail trip. Coatback is now part of my standard trail gear. I keep it with my bike gloves, daypacks, trail snacks and miscellaneous outdoor gear. And it is now mandatory equipment when I go on trail journeys. It’s easy to use, easy to pack and certainly comes in handy when I start shedding excess layers due to warm weather or glorious trail exertion. Hmmmmmm. That might be a good name for my next blog post: Glorious Trail Exertion.

Anyway, have a look at the following video and seriously consider adding Coatback to your stockpile of trail gear:

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Apr 04

Bicycle Camper Trailer

Portable Bicycle Camper Trailer

photo of bike camper trailer

bicycle camper trailer

Tent camping and hotels are no longer the only options for those of you who like to travel on long-distance bicycle paths. Thanks to companies that are starting to manufacture foldable bicycle trailers & portable bicycle trailers, you now have the option of towing a camper trailer behind your bike. In addition to allowing you to camp in relative comfort and safety, it also provides you with a trailer to stow your gear. (such as extra clothing, camping gear, etc.)

Wide Path Camper

One of the finest bike camper trailers is made by company called Wide-Path Camper. The pictures shown w/ this post are of the Wide Path bicycle trailers. As you can see,

bicycle camper trailer near trail

bike camper trailer

the trailers fold down to a fairly small profile for ease of towing on a relatively flat trail. Since they have a wider footprint than a typical bicycle, they seem less than ideal for most roads & highways unless those highways have an exceedingly and consistently wide shoulder. I would recommend these for long-distance bike paths including rail-trails & canal trails. Although not mandatory, it would be best to tow these bicycle trailer campers on paved or concrete trails. Wide-Path Campers fold out and can be taken from the portable towing configuration to the camper configuration in about three minutes. The Wide Path Campers weigh just under 100 pounds, so are best suited for fit & experienced cyclists.

Other Bicycle Trailer Campers

photos of bicycle camper trailers

bicycle camper trailer photos courtesy of

The Web Urbanist blog also has a great post about Bike Campers for Nomadic Cyclists. It shows intriguing photos of a dozen different cycle camper trailers from basic to luxury. Some of these are homemade and others are available for purchase. But it looks like this may be a new trend for traveling bicyclists whether you are on an active travel tour or just riding your local urban bike trails.

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