City Routes: Two Parks and a Lighthouse Route
Riding a good route is always lots of fun, and by good route I mean one that has good options. The routes I ride have lots of options for workouts and adding mileage. They also have spots to stop for supplies, air, drinks, and nutrition. Today, I want to share a good solid ride that will give you lots of good options that I will point out along the way. I hope that you like this first installment of City Routes.
The Two Parks and a Lighthouse Route is one that I ride all the time. It takes me from North Buffalo where I live all the way down to the waterfront and into South Buffalo. The basic route is only a little over 22 miles and has very little (400 feet) elevation. However, it has some really nice little hills along the way that make for an interesting ride. Click on the link above or HERE and it will take you to the Ride with GPS page where you can download the cue sheet, map, and even send it to you Wahoo or Garmin for turn by turn directions.
The route starts in Delaware Park at Ashker's. This is a good starting point because it gives you good parking and a good place to meet up with a group. It is relatively short around the park, so you can easily ride laps while you wait for your friends to show. You can add some mileage.
Head out the back of the park past the soccer fields and cross Delaware Ave. Turn right on Nottingham and head south down the S-Curves. This is a safe route, but I understand some people get freaked out by it. Alternate route: Take a left on Nottingham, head over the twirly bridge and head up the parkway to Forest.
Forest, the Parkway, Elmwood, and Richmond
Next we head down Forest and Lincoln Parkway, through Soldier's Circle and toward Bidwell. I like to swing by towards Campus to say hi, but you can avoid Elmwood altogether, if you prefer. Cut down West ferry to Richmond.
Alternate Route: Once you get to Elmwood, you can simply continue down Bidwell to the circle and onto Richmond. Either way, the long ride on Richmond is a nice fast path with good traffic patterns for the most part. Watch for car doors.
Allen and South Elmwood
Once you get near Kleinhans you can head down Wadsworth and onto Allen to Elmwood. This gives you a nice view of downtown. Head behind City Hall and towards the Adam's Mark. You will have a few lights, but it isn't too hard to navigate. Make a right on Erie and head toward the Erie Basin Marina and Canal Side. Alternate Route: Head right on Porter (at Richmond) and continue to the Peace Bridge and into LaSalle Park. Take path that connects park to Erie Basin Marina.
Erie Basin and Canalside
I love to ride out to the lighthouse at the end of the marina, past the Hatch and all the inner harbor. It really is a nice road, and I have very few problems down there, just be careful of walkers and days when events are going on. The loop around the lighthouse and back is fun and a good place to stretch the legs a little with a hard effort. Alternate Route: Skip the Lighthouse, but why?
Head towards the Naval Park and onto Canalside. There is usually somewhere to grab a bite or a picture. It can get a little congested, but it is rather bike friendly.
Harbor Center, First Niagara
Head toward the home of Buffalo hockey, and make a right at the Tim Horton's. This will get you onto Knox Plaza which you can take right around the back of the arena and right onto South Park Avenue. Get coffee if you want, but only if you have a lock.
South Park Ave to Hopkins
South Park is an awesome street to ride down. It is straight, wide, and usually the folks are great. As you head down South Park Ave, you will encounter a bunch of small hills. These are great for opening it up and hitting some 30 second efforts. I usually make South Park one of the harder sections, as it affords good traffic patterns and I love the little kickers and bridges that it has. Once you pass the Tesla plant, start looking for Hopkins.
Alternate Route: You can head right on Michigan to access the Riverworks or Outer Harbour and Fuhrmann Boulevard. This is great for sustained efforts. You can add miles and see lots of great stuff being developed down there. You can do laps at the shipyards and even head up Tifft to get to Hopkins and the Botanical Gardens where we are headed next on the main route.
Hopkins, the Hump, and South Park
Hopkins is right after Tesla, and is a pretty normal city street. There are some places to stop for supplies, and it is a nice stretch that allows you a rest before it goes uphill (Hopkins Hump). Hit the Hump hard, check out the windmills and Tifft to your right before heading into South Park and the Botanical Gardens.
Once in the park, you can add all the miles you wish in what I consider the best loop in the city to ride. This is a great place to do efforts, as the distinct walker and car lanes allow for very little trouble like you see at Delaware at times where people with headphones spread all the way across the lanes where cars cannot go. The loop at South Park has one tiny bump, and it is just a great ride.
What I usually do is take Hopkins easy, hammer the Hump, and then recover before I hammer it a little inside the park. The park is about 13 miles from home, so on many days I will ride tempo or harder efforts until I get about 20 miles on the head unit, and then I head home and get close to 30 in instead of just in and out. I just love love love South Park.
Alternate Route: You can head out the backside of the park and take Ridge towards the Outer Harbor and Fuhrmann.
Hopkins, South Park Ave, Back to Canalside
Head back on Hopkins, over the Hump again, and turn left onto South Park Avenue. This will head you straight back to Canalside. There are those few good bridges and hills, so hit them hard and then enjoy a nice little decent to bomb back into the Cobblestone District.
Alternate Route: You can take a right on Smith to Filmore and head back to North Buffalo through the East Side. This is fast and direct, and if I am running late, I do it. The path is good, and I ride it all the time despite acknowledging that some people do not like riding in that area. You be you.
Arena, Canalside, and Pearl
Head back behind the arena, and past Canalside on Marine, making a right onto Commercial which once it goes under the Skyway becomes Pearl. Enjoy downtown and take this all the way to the end at Tupper. You are going to get lots of lights. Sprint out of the stops and build some muscles. It's fun!
Franklin to Forest Lawn
Once you hit Tupper, make a left and a quick right onto Franklin. Be mindful of traffic. Once on Franklin enjoy the nice bike lane and a few little elevations to work those legs. When you get to North, you need to make a slight right and quick left, which will bring you to a great straight shot all the way to West Delevan. I love really hitting this stretch hard. There are lights, but I find that they are timed pretty well for 20-25 mph. If you get stuck, practice track stands and sprinting out of the stops. It is just what you need to embrace when city riding.
When you hit West Delavan, make a left and be careful of the crappy pavement, probably the worst you will see all route.
Alternate Route: At Delavan and Delaware is the wonderful Forest Lawn Cemetery. This is a great place for getting in some small hills or just pedaling through some cool roads. Be respectful, and you will have no issues. I have never been told to leave. Stick to the outside more or less, and you can get some elevation added on and add some nice spots. Watch for cars, as the stop signs are a little confusing to the cars.
Delaware, S-Curves North, and Delaware Park
This is my absolute favorite stretch to just hammer. Get right on Delaware and just go! Watch out for the storm grates, but you will have plenty of room, and drivers are pretty good. Continue onto the S-Curves and hit the gas. Once you get to the bridge, be prepared for some real lung burning as the road goes uphill towards Nottingham. If you are wary of the traffic headed onto or coming off the 198, just remember to give hand signals. Trust me, it is not a big deal. You should be using your lights anyways, and a wave or hand gesture always helps. When you get to the top, turn right on Nottingham and you are right back where you started. You now have the option of adding some loops of Delaware Park, getting food and drink at Ashker's, or heading home.
Make sure you check out the Two Parks and a Lighthouse route page. I like this route a lot because the two parks always allow for some extra laps, and they are a good place to run into friends. The South Park Ave stretch gives you the options of the Outer Harbor and Fuhrmann which are just great places to ride longer stretches about as good for intervals as city riding gets. This is a great way to see the city and affords some great opportunities for pics and stops along the way.