Bicycle Travel > Connecting ACA Routes

Denver, CO to NW Iowa, two alternatives?

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In the spring I plan to take about two weeks to go from Denver, CO to NW Iowa.

I'm considering two options:

1) Map my own route NE across Colorado and Nebraska using Google bike routes and state biking info, about 600 or miles.

2) Denver, CO to Ordway, CO, pick up TransAmerica route, ride that 2/3 of the way across Kansas, then snake NE up to Lewis and Clark trail and follow that to NW Iowa.  Definitely longer route, but maybe better amenities?

Still deciding which way is best, obviously following the Adventure Cycling routes for part of it would be easier to find food and camping, it's also quite a bit more out of the way and may be more than two weeks can handle.

Any thoughts?

John Nelson:
I have found Google bicycle directions good for getting you to the grocery store, but not good for getting you to Iowa. Instead, Google driving directions with the "avoid highways" option usually produces an acceptable bicycling route.

Since you didn't say where in NW Iowa, let me just arbitrarily presume that you want to go to Le Mars. Google driving directions without the avoid highways option shows 620 miles. With the avoid highways option adds only 4 miles and seems to be a reasonable route.

The route piecing together the TA and L&C would add almost 400 miles and would not, in my opinion, be that much better of a route. The ACA service directory, however, would find you a lot of free places to camp.

Two weeks is very generous for the shorter route, and doable but tight on the longer route.

Since you only have two weeks, I'd suggest you take the shorter route so you have more time to smell the roses, see the sights, talk to locals, deal with breakdowns, etc. It depends in part on whether you enjoy the actual riding the best, or whether you enjoy all the other parts of the experience the best.

Thank you for that feedback!

The route you mention is the route I am leaning towards.  I considered the Adventure Cycling route for two reason, first was the ease of finding food and camping vs going out looking for it.  That gives a bit of peace of mind on a first major trip.

The second was, being on the TransAm route, there's a better chance of running in to other cyclists, which can be a real mind-saver sometimes.  On the other hand, it could be super annoying as well depending on who you run in to..

Thanks John,

I'm looking at this again today... Avoid Highways with Google Maps puts me on what look to possibly be some very busy roads, such as Hwy 30 across Nebraska, Hwy 75 in Iowa (which I know is a 4 lane 65mph road).  I wonder if they've change avoid highways to just mean avoiding interstates?

I went back to their bike routes, it suggests the "Cowboy Trail"... It looks like it could be promising as I've heard that mentioned elsewhere, but I also see it going on what I know are gravel roads, which I'd like to avoid.

I think I'm thinking way too much about my possible route... :)

After reading up some more, looks like the Cowboy Trail is terrible and poorly maintained.  Looking at other options still.


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