Author Topic: Great Plains Gravel Route?  (Read 4141 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline staehpj1

Great Plains Gravel Route?
« on: March 01, 2023, 09:12:30 am »
I saw the write up about this not yet completed route in the ACA magazine and can't stop thinking about riding it.  I also saw the article in Cycling World https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/gravels-most-successful-creators-are-collaborating-on-a-new-adventure-the-great-plains-gravel-route and a few other places.  It says route completion in late 2023.  Does anyone know how like that is to be on schedule?  It looks to me like a route that should to be ridden north bound as early as the weather allows in order to avoid the heat and to hit the Flint Hills when they are their beautiful spring green.  Also some lead time is needed for planning.  I usually fail at avoiding the heat even if I go somewhere when it isn't supposed to be hot, but still...  If the release of the route is too late I am guessing it means riding in 2024 is out since I would not want to ride in the worst heat and miss the Flint Hills in Spring and it would be pushed back to 2025 for me.  A shame since at 71, I am not getting any younger.  I like to think I have lots of years left where I can still do long tours, but you never know how you will hold up.

I'd really like to find out more.  How much access is there to resuppy or at least filterable water along the way?  Will there be a need to carry multiple days of water anywhere?  How many days and how often?  I am generally not inclined to use a support vehicle, but if a support vehicle were to be used is it possible to drive the route or drive parallel to the route close enough to provide meaningful support.

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1850
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Great Plains Gravel Route?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2023, 11:43:15 am »
Pete, I know very little about the route other than what was originally published. 

That said, I would definitely ride S>N because that the wind is generally from the the southerly direction up to about the I-94 latitude.  The it appears to become 50/50 as to if the wind is from the NW or SE along the route in the Dakotas.  See https://windhistory.com/map.html#4.00/36.00/-95.00 for wind direction history (remember to click on the individual month you will be riding) and WeatherSpark.com for temp data.

As far as a support vehicle goes, I feel fairly confident that one could at bare minimum meet you along the route in multiple places each day.  Remember the support vehicle may want/need to go off-route to a bigger town 20 miles away (20 minutes in the Plains) to get better selection of groceries, supplies, or whatever and then meet up with you down the road after you have gone 20-25 miles. 

The biggest problem I see is that if you want cooler weather AND do entire route on one trip, you will have to leave early April and if it takes 2.5 months to do the route @ 55 miles per day average, then you will be getting into spring storms which will make the roads quite muddy and somewhat frequently.  Plus the parts in Oklahoma and Kansas are right along "tornado alley" which means the potential for massive hail. 

Years ago, I did my "Tailwind Express" route from Brownsville to Winnipeg (about 1,900 miles) and it took a little over a month due to the wonderful tailwinds (massive headwinds way up north).  I left around May 20th I think and yes, deep South Texas was toasty and the rest of the route was not cool by any means but was, to me, fairly pleasant to slightly warm.  But I like high temps to be in the 76*-88* range since to me, anything below 70* requires at least long-sleeves & tights if not more.

Anyway, I love how we are getting more route and more people involved in bike touring.  Tailwinds, John

Offline eorogers

Re: Great Plains Gravel Route?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2023, 12:55:54 pm »
We lived in Houston through the 1980's and my memory is that March was the nicest weather in Texas - the wildflowers in the Hill Country were magnificent, so I was thinking early March for the start.  I looks like a great ride.  Anyone with more recent ideas?

Eric

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1850
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Great Plains Gravel Route?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2023, 01:16:40 pm »
... March was the nicest weather in Texas - the wildflowers in the Hill Country were magnificent, so I was thinking early March for the start....

Yes, if you do a segmented trip, March would be great in the Hill Country.  However, if you are doing the whole thing, then late April temps in North Dakota would be around low 60s for the average highs with upper 30s for the average low.  To me, that is the problem with a N>S/S>N route in that the temps can vary widely over a relatively short time.  Course, others think those temps are wonderful so do what is best for you. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Great Plains Gravel Route?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2023, 07:35:27 pm »
Segmented doesn't really appeal to me.  I'd probably just split it into two years if I weren't doing it all in one go.  Temps can be pretty cool for me and I am okay.

I'd consider a really early start, mid February at Big Bend if it worked out best for the rest of the trip.  There will be discomfort somewhere.  There will be hot or cold to deal with and likely both.  A lot will depend on daily mileage.  Depending on motivation, fitness level, and tailwinds.  Miieage cold realistically range from 55-80 miles per day.  At this point I really don't have a plan for that.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Great Plains Gravel Route?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2023, 09:09:49 am »
... March was the nicest weather in Texas - the wildflowers in the Hill Country were magnificent, so I was thinking early March for the start....

Yes, if you do a segmented trip, March would be great in the Hill Country.  However, if you are doing the whole thing, then late April temps in North Dakota would be around low 60s for the average highs with upper 30s for the average low.  To me, that is the problem with a N>S/S>N route in that the temps can vary widely over a relatively short time.  Course, others think those temps are wonderful so do what is best for you.
Actually those temps sound pretty good to me.  In the past I seem to always get hit with unexpected early heat waves on my trips, so there is that.  Also there is the possibility of just taking a few weeks off in the middle of the trip if that seems to suit the weather of the year.  Being retired gives a lot of flexibility in that regard.

I have had hot and cold weather on tours and only really suffered in the heat.  Granted, cold can be dangerous if extreme enough and you aren't prepared for it, but putting on an extra layer and a windbreaker during the day and having frost at night are still what I consider good riding weather.  I definitely prefer that to 100 F heat.

BTW, I am anxiously waiting to hear more about this route, but it sounds like it will be late summer before they release details.