Author Topic: Illinois to Idaho  (Read 449 times)

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Offline CWBurcar

Illinois to Idaho
« on: September 01, 2020, 09:25:54 pm »
First post here

I have always dreamed of doing long distance cycling an I was training a few years ago when I got hurt at work an needed spinal surgery. Three years later an a lot of physical therapy, I'm back.
I plan on taking a trip from Dana, Illinois(dinky little farm town) to Boise, Idaho in late summer/early fall 2021. I am currently training on a treadmill, exercise bike an road bike. The thing I am mostly struggling with is finding a good path. I have looked through several maps but I can't seem to find a direct bike friendly way without going far out of my way. I don't mind riding on rural roads as long as the traffic isn't terrible. I plan on riding around 60 miles per day. I want to ensure i can find a campground or hotel as well as places i can buy water or refill bottles. I understanding finding everything i want wont always be 60 miles or exactly like i want it. Any help would be amazing. I really would love to see Boise but if anyone can recommend other beautiful places around the same distance(1600-2000 miles) i'm open to hearing ideas as well =).


Christopher

Offline John Nettles

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2020, 10:33:26 pm »
First welcome to the ACA forums.  A couple of suggestions for you.

1) Most states have a "bicycle map" that shows roads that are suitable for biking.  All the states you would go though have them I think.  Stick to roads with less than 2000 vehicles per day (AADT) and/or shoulders and you should be fine.  Obviously, less is better.  The further west you go, the less traffic there is.

2) If you want "paths", consider looking at Google Map's bicycle mode.  Go to Google Maps and in the far upper left click on the 3 horizontal lines and select "Bicycling".  The green lines that appear (you have to zoom in some) are either bike paths (solid dark green) or bike friendly routes (lighter green).  Be careful of the dashed lines as they could be sidewalks, hiking trails (not suitable for bikes), mountain bike trails (not suitable for most touring). About half the time, they are unpaved (crushed limestone) paths, especially if straight as on when a railroad has been converted into a trail.  The Cowboy Trail across Nebraska looks inviting but you may have to get onto the adjoining highway in places as the gravel is a bit rough in places. CAUTION:  Do not try to map a route using Google that is more than say 30-50 miles at a time.  While they are pretty decent in metro areas, they rapidly begin to suck the longer the route and/or outside metro areas.  Be sure to spot check using the Streetview (drag the little yellow guy in the lower right of the screen to the map to see the road) to ensure the road is paved and/or looks fine to you.  Google has been known to route onto private lands and old abandoned jeep trails.

3)  Use Google maps to find campgrounds and cheap hotels.

4)  A lot of smaller towns out west will allow you to camp in the city park but a shower and/or restroom may not be available.  The local public swimming pool is a decent place to grab a cheap shower but they usually close by Labor Day.

5) You will have to zig zag some, especially if you have requirments, i.e. 60 miles per day, etc.  It is not uncommon to have to do 70 miles or 50 miles on various days as that is where the services area. 

6)  Finally, you mentioned "early fall".  You should note that high altitude Wyoming can get quite cool and/or cold in early October.  Snow is a very real possibility.  For instance, Jackson, WY, begins October with an AVERAGE high of 61* but ends with a high of only 45*.  Lows in the 20s (or teens in late October) can be expected. Rock Springs is warmer (lower elevation) but then you would ride on an interstate (legal out west) to and from so some traffic (nothing like in Illinois).

7) If you have difficulty planning a portion of the route (such as you need suggestions between Rawlins, WY and Idaho), ask back here and you will most likely get some help. 

Tailwinds, John

Offline staehpj1

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2020, 06:29:59 am »
It depends on the individual and what they want, but that part of the country is awesome for impromptu staying in small town town parks.  When I rode the Trans America on my first coast to coast we camped for free in town parks and other such places the majority of the time.  We also stayed with folks who offered hospitality, stayed in a few campgrounds, slept in a couple churches who offered hospitality, and so on.  We even got a room a couple times, but that was a rarity.

A good way to learn what works and what doesn't is to use one of the Adventure Cycling routes that is well established in the middle of the country as a learning tool.  I figured that he ease of finding free camping in small town parks was because the trail had been blazed by others, but when I went on other rides I realized that I could do the same elsewhere where no one had blazed a trail for me.

I'd suggest using and ACA route if any suit your needs and I wouldn't plan daily mileages for each day.  I never do.  You will need to plan a couple days ahead at times because of long spaces between towns, but otherwise it is usually better to be flexible and ride longer when you can make good mileage and shorter when you can't.  Shoot for a planned average, but not a set daily mileage.  Forget riding a set daily mileage that will never happen.  Spacing of services and towns, headwinds, tailwinds, climbs, descents, and weather can all drastically change your reasonable progress.  Sixty miles one day may be harder than twice that another.

I find that with the ACA maps you can really do pretty much zero route planning in advance other than overall trip duration and logistics at both ends.  Just pack your stuff and ride.

I should mention that all my experience is pre-covid19, but I have many times rolled into a tiny rural town, stopped in the general store, bought a few items, said something like, " I am bicycling across the US, do you think anyone will bother me if I sleep in the park tonight?", and then rolling out early in the morning.  In a larger town I might ask the local cops, or at the local firehouse, or the local librarian, or ask the wait staff at the diner, or pretty much whoever I meet where I might set up my tent.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2020, 09:39:48 am »
I second (or is it third?) the suggestion of trying some of the Advernture Cycling routes.  Go the the Adventure Cycling link on the top right of this page, click on "Navigate" then the interactive route map.  You'll see everything laid out.  As you note, there's no direct route, but there are a couple of ways you could get there.  E.g. (1) take the Northern Tier, which passes near you, to Minneapolis, ooch around the city, pick up the Peaks, Parks and Praries route to West Yellowstone.  E.g. (2) go more or less due west across Iowa, pick up the Lewis and Clark until it crosses the PPP.  Let me suggest you order the nearest Northern Tier map as an experiment.  You'll find information on routing and services, including camping, restaurants, stores, and even motels (for bad weather or you need a break).

My informed preference would be to take the NT to Minneapolis to the PPP, even though it adds about a week to the trip.  AC maps are cheap for the information they contain, and you'll have the comfort of following an intelligently selected route for the first month or two.  Stop and pick up a state highway map at the nearest visitor center as you cross each state line, and follow your route on the larger map.  After you get to West Yellowstone, you'll have enough experience to use online maps and/or the Idaho state map to pick a route to Boise.  (This assumes you'll have a smart phone or tablet for connectivity.)

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2020, 11:45:28 am »
Thank you all for your responses. I have done short trips but my dream is to do a long one. I would one day love to do coast to coast but i sadly don't have that type of time. Although my path or even destination might change my training is not =). It might sound crazy but after everything i have been through I kinda feel I have to do this for myself. I was slightly worried about finding places to stay, I have heard of stealth camping but after reading some of these responses I am less worried. I have a majority of the equipment but I haven't decided if I'm doing panniers or trailer. I'm super excited to do this trip an excited to see the blue grass(boise states football field). Again thank you all for your wonderful responses an information. I will look at all routes an try to find what best suits my goal.

Christopher

Offline staehpj1

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2020, 05:14:27 pm »
Just to be clear...  Stealth camping and what I suggested are two completely different things.  I'd have to reread to be sure, but I don't think Pat or John did either.  Camping for free in plain sight are a different matter than stealth camping.  In the area you are planning to travel you are unlikely to need to employ stealth unless that is your preference.  That was one thing that I love about the middle of the country.

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2020, 08:46:02 pm »
I understand I was just throwing it in that I have heard of it also incase I took a route with limited sleeping locations. Thank you for the input though, always appreciated.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2020, 06:49:41 am »
Okay, I just wanted top be clear because there is pretty widespread misunderstanding on the topic of stealth camping and/or misuse of the term.  The type of camping I described isn't stealth camping.  Camping in plain sight on public land isn't either.  Neither is dispersed camping on public land.  All of those often are mistakenly referred to as stealth camping.

FWIW, I do stealth camp from time to time, but generally as kind of a last resort when another option doesn't present itself.  Sometimes there is a gray area when I am probably camping somewhere just a little iffy and choose to be out of sight where stealth may not really be required.  Both of those are fairly rare for me.

Offline RetroGrouch

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2020, 02:40:44 pm »
First post here

I have always dreamed of doing long distance cycling an I was training a few years ago when I got hurt at work an needed spinal surgery. Three years later an a lot of physical therapy, I'm back.
I plan on taking a trip from Dana, Illinois(dinky little farm town) to Boise, Idaho in late summer/early fall 2021. I am currently training on a treadmill, exercise bike an road bike. The thing I am mostly struggling with is finding a good path. I have looked through several maps but I can't seem to find a direct bike friendly way without going far out of my way. I don't mind riding on rural roads as long as the traffic isn't terrible. I plan on riding around 60 miles per day. I want to ensure i can find a campground or hotel as well as places i can buy water or refill bottles. I understanding finding everything i want wont always be 60 miles or exactly like i want it. Any help would be amazing. I really would love to see Boise but if anyone can recommend other beautiful places around the same distance(1600-2000 miles) i'm open to hearing ideas as well =).


Christopher

I just came across his post today...
I have done what you are asking about except I went the reverse way, Boise to Peoria.  It has been a few years but my experience may be of useful to you...

1)  I would suggest going west to east to take advantage of the prevailing wind.  (Except in Nebraska!?!?!?)
2)  My route was not a the most direct route as I wished to avoid large cities and cross major rivers on "bike friendly" bridges.   
------Illinois River at Henry IL, Mississippi at Muscatine IA,  Iowa at a point south of Iowa City, Missouri at Decatur NB.
3)  I also wished to cross major mountain ranges via lower passes using minor paved roads. 
------Crossed the Colorado Front Range via Pouder River west of Fort Collins CO then joined the Adventure Cycling Trans America Trail to Jackson Hole WY
4)  We never had any problems finding water, supplies, camping or lodging.  However you need to plan well in the mountain states because there are some stretches with lots of nothing.

Do it!!! You will be glad you did!
 
« Last Edit: October 14, 2020, 02:42:33 pm by RetroGrouch »

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2020, 07:37:21 pm »
Here's a route worth considering. We did this while crossing the country a few years ago but continued on to Madison, WI. The reason I would vector to N Iowa is that I've heard that the hills are relentless to the South. To the contrary, it's mainly flat up to the North. I can't speak for the roads mapped from Dana to Forest City, IA.

If you get to Idaho later than mid September you'll want to check the weather up in Stanley. That's a scenic area that you'll not want to miss but if it's too cold you can take US 20 through less scenic areas of lower elevation. I would also take the advice above that you'd be better served riding from Boise to Dana. The winds can be relentless in WY and the Great Plains, with no forests to block it until Eastern Iowa. You're much more likely to have wind out of the west than the east through these parts.

Good luck and enjoy.


https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Dana,+IL+61321/Forest+City,+IA/Winner,+SD/Kilgore,+NE/Casper,+WY/Jackson,+WY/Idaho+Falls,+ID/Stanley,+ID/Boise,+ID/@42.8485961,-110.6732413,5z/data=!4m56!4m55!1m5!1m1!1s0x880bed527c9ac977:0xf1a07ef38e3dc97!2m2!1d-88.9500761!2d40.9578103!1m5!1m1!1s0x87f17b161ca6f205:0xf9556adb362b1c71!2m2!1d-93.6371937!2d43.2624685!1m5!1m1!1s0x87817e2d64c04789:0x4d687af6be42713b!2m2!1d-99.8590069!2d43.3766665!1m5!1m1!1s0x8778951532e9d0d9:0x3666846823ae2793!2m2!1d-100.9557047!2d42.9383393!1m5!1m1!1s0x87609365c85e7a63:0x69cefc3917343e53!2m2!1d-106.3251749!2d42.8500769!1m5!1m1!1s0x53531a58fccf7f4b:0x3d1c01cbb13a835c!2m2!1d-110.7624282!2d43.4799291!1m5!1m1!1s0x5354594e739512b5:0x2311c9fc094c49c9!2m2!1d-112.0407584!2d43.4926607!1m5!1m1!1s0x54a8f65559fd639b:0xb9c8c4a2fb0a918b!2m2!1d-114.9351998!2d44.2155392!1m5!1m1!1s0x54aef172e947b49d:0x9a5b989b36679d9b!2m2!1d-116.2023137!2d43.6150186!3e1

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2020, 02:05:02 am »
Thank you RetroGrouch and bbarrettx

Thank you so much for the route, i'll have fun looking through it and seeing what i can use. I know i do want to stop in West Yellowstone an stay for a day or two. I have talked to some friends in Spokane Washington that might come visit for a weekend. I still have some months to plan and gather the rest of the gear as well as test it before i do my long journey. Thank you for taking the time to add experience and advice for me. I'm worried about wind more than most things, that can make a great trip into a long long day quick. I will defiantly take going from west to east into consideration.

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2020, 12:10:25 pm »
If you choose West Yellowstone instead of Jackson you'll head north and east out of Idaho Falls instead of due east through the Swan Valley. You can either head south through the park which will get you to the Tetons and back on the route I described or if you head east through Cody you'll be lined up to ride through the Black Hills of SD. That's a beautiful area to ride. From there you can find your way SE and still cross through N Iowa, avoiding the hills to the south.

I find WY to be most vulnerable to winds. They're most likely to be out of the west. If they do come from the east it's generally from an upsloping cold front which is typically a one day event. When we came across the Great Plains we had 5 consecutive days of 25+ mph winds from the NW. There's no way we would have even attempted to ride to the east on those days.

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Illinois to Idaho
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2020, 05:44:09 pm »
@bbarrettx

Awesome thank you very much. I have thought of doing Black hills, i'll have to do more research into it. Thanks again