Author Topic: Riding from Grand Junction, CO to Omaha, NE; Western Express, TransAm, and more.  (Read 4913 times)

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Offline leetramp


I had a great time this summer riding down the Pacific coast from a physics teacher conference in Portland, and next summer the conference is in Omaha. I'm looking at the following trip:

  • Amtrak from the San Francisco area (home) to Grand Junction, CO
  • Riding Route 50 down to join the Western Express route at Montrose
  • Riding the Western Express to Pueblo, CO (just to ensure myself that I can climb 5,000 feet and scale an 11,000 foot pass  ;D )
  • Riding the TransAmerica route to about Alexander, KS.
  • Riding various roads up to Omaha NE (probably going through Lincoln).
  • Amtrak back after the conference.

Does anyone have knowledge they can share about riding these roads through Kansas and Nebraska? I did a bit of gravel road riding on my tour this summer, and my Surly Long Haul Trucker handled it just fine, but I'm pretty sure I was riding a bit slower than on pavement. I'm tempted to just zig-zag on the little farm roads, heading north and east, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with riding in this area that they can share.

Thanks in advance,


Offline Pat Lamb

Well, the TransAm route to Alexander is all paved roads (although the expansion joints in eastern Colorado may stretch the definition of "paved"!).  Unless you're getting off onto the county roads, meaning you have lots of very fine maps, I'd expect you'd be riding mostly U.S. or state roads north from Alexander -- no problem.

The farm access roads in southern Kansas are pretty good for dirt roads.  I drove one afternoon to pick up our host from his haying job, and my Appalachian roots had me gritting my teeth as I drove up to 40 or 45 mph on the dirt roads.  He had me drive home, and told me I could really be driving 60.  I just couldn't do it -- they're DIRT roads, after all!

Two things I'd be cautious of: first, is there a creek or river that disrupts the back road / county road network.  Second, Alexander, KS is only a town on AC maps.  Don't count on anything but water there!


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  • Riding the Western Express to Pueblo, CO (just to ensure myself that I can climb 5,000 feet and scale an 11,000 foot pass  ;D )

If that's Hoosier Pass you are talking about, consider staying in Breckenridge the night before.  The town is at 9,600 ft.  That leaves you about 1,900 ft. to climb to the top.  When in was there in '00 there was an HI Hostel in town.  If it's still there, make a reservation as it's pretty small.

As for Nebraska, you might try getting in touch with the people who put on B.R.A.N.  They might be able to give you tips and possibly maps from previous rides.

Offline John Nelson

Someone taking the Western Express to the TransAm would not be crossing Hoosier Pass nor passing through Breckenridge.

Offline John Nettles

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Take a look at the Kansas Bike Maps and the Nebraska Bike Map (which is a tad old).

The Nebraska map is heavily weighted in favor of shoulders.  For instance, if you look at NE-89 (right along the KS border east of McCook in SW Nebraska, the map shows it as "Fair Compatibility", i.e. low traffic but no shoulders.  However, this road gets an daily average vehicle count of less than 400!  By comparison, US-83 (same area but runs N-S) is marked as "High Compatibility" has a 3'-4' shoulder but has 1,800-2,500 average count.  My point is if you like a Fair Compatibility road (with no shoulder), it very well may be a quiet country road.  You can cross reference the NE bike map with the NE Traffic Flow map to decide for yourself which is better.

You should note that northern Kansas and Nebraska are not flat.  Lots of rolling hills.  There are also very few windbreaks so if there is a headwind or tailwind your average speed could greatly change, i.e. 7mph  :'( to 18mph  ;D (fully loaded).

Finally, I have a few routes in KS and NE I have used.  If you email me privately (john at nettlesfamily dot com), I can help you if you want.

Sounds like a good trip and I hope you have a great time!


Offline leetramp

Thanks everyone for the great information. I may be changing my route to go Montana-ND-SD-Nebraska, but the tips are a great at helping me make my decision. I really like the cycling maps of Kansas/Nebraska (and the traffic counts are also fun).