Now how to type this up without writing a book ... (super long post)
I was just working on a weekish long ride from Kansas City Missouri to St Louis. It will have portions of the Katy involved but as I was looking from the future connector of Pleasant Hill, Mo to Windsor I was once again miffed. How do you know when you're on gravel .. or truly back country low traffic low speed limit roads. When riding from Boulder Colorado to St Louis we started out running along 36 that lasted till some place in Kansas when cars were just to noisy. It was plenty safe with wide shoulders and all..maybe boring at worst. Anyway sometimes it feels like routes are for the road bikes or mountain bikes never mixed. I run 700x50 tires with fenders .. so for me less traffic and more scenery is my joy. Finding them is a nightmare... to me in many cases single track is nicer than heavily graveled roads... I could to C&O type double track all day even in rain and rejoice ..
So how to find routes that incorporate a bit of everything.. the 20 miles of single track that cuts of a noisy highway or a sidewalk that gets your through town better than the roads while still getting where we want to go. For me riding the shoulder of an interstate is safer than a two lane 60mph farm road with no shoulders... give me gravel there.. not car counts... if you see what I mean.. I'm not against or afraid of truly low traffic high speed roads... but how do we find them on them maps.. .the popular routes tend to be popular with cars in some cases.. If I'm wrong say so but it l looks like we simplify and put up with a busier road to save the complexity of the route at times. What trade offs are made ...
Is there a national gravel / dirt road mapping system .. a mapping system that takes into account bike routes (google is trying but not there yet) Not to mention those dirt farm roads.. sweet! (well when dry anyway)
Routes that may be uncomfortable for a skinny tired (under 700x32 say) .. doesn't mean I don't want new ice smooth asphalt .. just not at the expense of stuff like this.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tksleeper/6307316797/in/set-72157627915494737/http://www.flickr.com/photos/tksleeper/5179336015/in/set-72157625274926541http://www.flickr.com/photos/tksleeper/5249571127/in/set-72157625274926541
Nothing wrong with having to traverse a railroad track without an actual crossing if it takes you where you want to go without traffic.
Now how to find these wonderful cut throughs and off the chart routes between locations.
How do you do it?