Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: Smudgy on March 22, 2020, 11:41:04 pm

 
Title: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Smudgy on March 22, 2020, 11:41:04 pm
In 2019, I rode a section of the TransAmerica Bike Trail from Pueblo, Colorado to Carbondale, Illinois. I made a video. A biker I met called it the dreaded middle third. He said it is because that is where most people quit. Kansas is too long, too hot, too windy and too boring. Maybe so, but I love the open spaces and small western towns on the high plains. In contrast the roads in the Missouri Ozarks are hilly and twisty. 3 or 4 days of hill after hill with 8-12% grades, most less than 2 miles. If not the hills, the scenery will take your breath away. Check it out.

https://youtu.be/FRBzWdUTBAw

Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: aggie on March 23, 2020, 02:53:54 pm
Another nice video.  Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: rwinot25 on March 23, 2020, 04:20:44 pm
Nice video, thanks for the memories. I was about 10 days ahead of you on my own cross country journey last summer.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: hikerjer on March 23, 2020, 09:48:14 pm
"Anyone can love the mountains. It takes heart to love the prairie. "  - Willa Cather
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: driftlessregion on March 25, 2020, 11:04:09 am
I enjoyed the video but after sharing it with my touring friends the consensus is never Kansas.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Smudgy on March 25, 2020, 12:28:22 pm
I enjoyed the video but after sharing it with my touring friends the consensus is never Kansas.

Never Kansas? Whaaat? You don't know what you're missing, or maybe you do. Driving a car or taking a bus across Kansas is truly torture, riding across on a bike is totally different. It's way harder! I agree with hikerjer and Willa Cather and I did fall in love with the prairie. I didn't always see it that way. So, I also agree that there are many more scenic places to ride. One question though, how does one get across the USA without going through Kansas or one of the other plains state? ??? 
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: jwrushman on March 25, 2020, 01:33:52 pm
Have you ridden the Northern Tier across Montana?  How does it compare to Kansas?  I enjoyed it.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: jamawani on March 25, 2020, 03:05:17 pm
Nebraska & Iowa are just so much better for crossing the Great Plains.

Pic - Nebraska Sandhills
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Smudgy on March 25, 2020, 11:39:55 pm
Have you ridden the Northern Tier across Montana?  How does it compare to Kansas?  I enjoyed it.
I rode the Lewis and Clark in 2004. one of my favorite sections was from Williston, ND to Havre, Mt, then southwest to Great Falls. It felt like the movie Lonesome Dove following the Milk River valley. The scenery is very similar to Kansas. I especially like all of the small western towns along the plains, they're hard working ranching towns.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Smudgy on March 25, 2020, 11:46:16 pm
Nebraska & Iowa are just so much better for crossing the Great Plains.

Pic - Nebraska Sandhills

I crossed Nebraska twice, I love the Sandhills. BTW, Iowa is not flat. Constant rolling hills.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: TCS on March 26, 2020, 11:07:26 pm
'The prairie only whispers.  You must listen carefully and not miss the message.' - Val Peters
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: John Nelson on March 27, 2020, 03:49:11 pm
You pass right through the middle of most of the towns in Kansas on the TransAm. For many of the towns in Montana on the Northern Tier, they are to your left or right, so you don’t see much of them unless you make a point to go off route a bit. I liked Kansas better.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on March 29, 2020, 10:30:41 am
You pass right through the middle of most of the towns in Kansas on the TransAm. For many of the towns in Montana on the Northern Tier, they are to your left or right, so you don’t see much of them unless you make a point to go off route a bit. I liked Kansas better.

True. U.S. 2 appears to have been rerouted so that it no longer takes trough traffic into the center of some towns. Harlem, Malta and Glasgow come to mind. Harlem is off to the left. The latter two are reached by making a right and crossing under the railroad.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: bbarrettx on March 30, 2020, 06:12:56 pm
Nice video. Great memories of a monumental mental challenge. It's the winds of KS that make it such a challenge and they seem to be more often out of the east than west. I crossed a few years ago through very north Nebraska/southern SD/and very north Iowa. It was much better than Kansas. We were headed for Minneapolis and onward to join the Northern Tier but could never get there because of crazy NW winds for 5 days. We ended up making lemonade out of our lemons and riding the winds to Madison and then headed south across IL, and east through IN, OH, PA, NJ. It's not a route that you'd typically draw up because you're trying to set up to get to either the N or S ends of Lake Michigan so you're usually vectoring NE or SE in the Plains to set that up. I think that's why most people end up far enough south in Iowa where they get hammered by the hills (mini Ozarks from what I've heard). We basically followed route 9 which had limited shoulders but almost no traffic, and the Iowa drivers are perhaps the nations most courteous. There's a surprisingly scenic and touristy lake area called Okoboji that appears out of nowhere. As you get 2/3 of they way across it's starts to get forested which makes for a great change of scenery. Some Amish/Mennonite communities in this part and even little surprises like a town called Spillville which reminded me of a village in the wine country of Provence or Tuscany. McGregor and Marquette are touristy but off the beaten path spots on the Mississippi River and then the climb out of the river valley through heavy lush forests on the Wisconsin side is quite scenic and a wonderful treat after several days in the arid Great Plains. From Madison it's a few easy days riding to hook into the Fox River Trail which will efficiently get you through the western Chicago suburbs and on your way to northern Indiana. Worth a look if you're seeking to avoid the relentless rollers of central and southern Iowa and the head case that is Kansas!
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Smudgy on March 30, 2020, 08:58:56 pm
Did you know of the ferry that crosses Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, Wi to Ludington, Mi ? If you didn't want to go through the Upper Peninsula (U.P. , eh) because it's to far north and avoid the mess called Chicago (I used to live there) at the south end of the Lake, the ferry is not a bad option. I've taken it twice on bicycle and once on motorcycle.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: staehpj1 on March 31, 2020, 05:56:04 am
I rode across Kansas a couple times once on the TA and once diagonally from KC to the SW corner and enjoyed both rides.  I have only driven across Nebraska and it was when I was bailing on a trip with HAPE or when hurrying through going to or from trips on the other coast so it isn't a fair comparison, but I had a better impression of Kansas.  The Flint Hills (not on the TA) in KS were nice in Spring.  I suspect that with a completely fair comparison Nebraska might win out with more points of interest like the lowess hills and so on.  I don't have the perspective to compare though.

I'll add that the people in Kansas were amazingly hospitable.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: bbarrettx on March 31, 2020, 01:43:25 pm
In hindsight, the ferry seems like a really good option. I somehow got it into my head that taking the ferry would be akin to cheating, but my views have moderated on that. Another factor was that I have family in N Indiana lake country which set up nicely for a few days off in a nice setting.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Smudgy on March 31, 2020, 02:33:44 pm

I'll add that the people in Kansas were amazingly hospitable.

+1 I agree. One of the highlights of the plains are the people. Worth riding for that reason alone.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: hoverbird on November 21, 2020, 10:45:38 pm
Enjoyed the video. Thanks for putting it together!
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: hikerjer on November 22, 2020, 12:40:36 am
"I'll add that the people in Kansas were amazingly hospitable."

I would agree. Some of the friendliest folk I've ever come across. Also, Kansas was probably the cleanest state I rode through.
Title: Re: TransAmerica Trail Bike Tour, The Dreaded Middle Third
Post by: Westinghouse on November 27, 2020, 01:29:50 am
Many years ago there was this one cyclist talking about going through this so called dreaded middle third. The wind was so strong, long term and consistent he ended his journey there.

Wind kept me off the road a number of times, but it did not turn me back or end my travel.