Willem van Osselaer was a senior at Ithaca High School when he developed a great online tool for bicyclists in the Ithaca area.
Willem, who will soon be a freshman at Cornell University, created Ithaca Cycling Routes as part of an experiential English class during his senior year. The site guides riders through some of the Ithaca area’s most beautiful road cycling routes.
“Willem developed the site over the course of five months and went way above and beyond course requirements to create a resource that will be valuable to visitors to Ithaca, new cyclists, and experienced local cyclists,” said Armin Heurich, a library media specialist at the high school and president of the Finger Lakes Cycling Club (FLCC). “The website is a labor of love and a treasure.”
The site as constructed by Willem, a coordinator of youth cycling at FLCC, is simple to navigate. There is a link to the 12 routes – Find your route! – on the home page, as well as a map to East Hill Plaza, a starting point for most of the rides because it serves as a meeting spot for local bicyclists, and there is plenty of parking there. Many FLCC rides start there, Willem said.
Once visitors click through to the routes, they’ll see a wide variety of distances from the 3.2-mile Cayuga Waterfront Trail to the 75.1-mile Owasco Lake ride, with other distances ranging from 8.4 miles to 51.3 miles.
Willem gives two options on the all-flat Cayuga Waterfront Trail, a 3.2-mile, one-way version, and a downtown loop that is 5.1 miles. He also notes: “This is also the only route you will find on this website that is completely flat!”
With each route, there are:
- Maps and distances in miles and kilometers, as well as notes on elevation gains and major climbs.
- Notes on food stops and points of interest.
- Conversational descriptions, overviews, and observations on traffic, scenery, and hills.
- Turn-by-turn directions.
Willem likes to ride about 70 miles a week during the summer, so you might meet him on one of his bike routes.
“The main reason why I bike is to talk to people,” Willem said. “Cycling is the main way I spend time with friends, and I have met many people through this sport.
“What sets cycling apart from other sports is that it allows people to explore and get a sense of their surroundings. I love observing the Ithaca countryside and experiencing its geography.”
His favorite short route? Mount Pleasant (15 miles), because it’s the closest challenging hill to his house. “The lack of trees and the observatory at the summit make it feel like you climbed a true mountain.
His favorite long route? Weltonville (51.3 miles), which has “gorgeous views,” he said. “Many roads provide an almost constant view of the hillsides around you. During the fall, the foliage makes this route even more stunning.”
Willem, who will be a student this fall at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning, is proud of what he’s accomplished, and rightly so. “My goal was not just to complete the class requirements, but also to create a quality end product. “
He wanted the website to be his best work, he said. “I knew that the more hours I spent on the website, the more useful it would be to cyclists.”
I hope cyclists who meet Willem along his routes will thank him for this great website!
Thank you for reading!