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Old 07-26-17, 09:00 AM   #1
stardognine
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Best bike route across Kansas?

So, I've been learning a lot about "trusting" maps lately, lol. Don't do it. 🙄😉 But all joking aside, I'm crossing Kansas now, and was planning to take route 50 West, into Colorado. Coming through Kansas City, it turned into a very scary 5-lane highway, which I'd just as soon avoid altogether.
I'm now on the Santa Fe Trail, going through Olathe, and "hoping" that 50 calms down and gets more civilized, as I get away from the city. Any input? TIA.
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Old 07-26-17, 10:10 AM   #2
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(apologies in advance)

Just follow the yellow brick road.
follow the yellow brick road.
follow,follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road.

if you have no idea what I'm on about, call your grandma.
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Old 07-26-17, 10:28 AM   #3
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I like to check the Strava Heat Map when I'm going to unknown places. It's a year of uploaded GPS recorded rides, color coded by popularity--bright red is the most commonly ridden. Some of those rides were on mountain bikes, so trails and gravel roads will be included. Cities have a lot more riders, so they show more red roads.

Here's the link to central and eastern Kansas. (As you pan and zoom the map, the URL changes, so you can bookmark that view.)
Heat Map Kansas

Click "Toggle Labels" on the left side menu to show town and road names as you zoom in.

~~~~
Biking west to Colorado
It looks like the western part of Kansas has a small number of commonly ridden east-west roads.

I'm guessing that most of the other roads are gravel in the west half of Kansas. Zoom way in on google satellite view, and look for painted centerlines on the paved roads, and/or tar stripes on "chip-seal" gravel & tar roads. I often need to click "Labels off" on the left side pulldown menu, to see the road image itself without the google road overlay.

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Old 07-26-17, 10:54 AM   #4
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So, I've been learning a lot about "trusting" maps lately, lol. Don't do it. ����
Shame you didn't trust Adventure Cycling's Trans Am maps that cover Kansas.


https://www.adventurecycling.org/rou...america-trail/


Maybe you can get a hard copy of this from a chamber of commerce/tourism office:


http://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdot...ts/BikeMap.pdf

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Old 07-26-17, 11:53 AM   #5
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Here's the Kansas DOT's state traffic volume map.
Obviously, US 50 was a pretty poor choice.

http://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdot...untmap2016.pdf

Get off US 50 - which has major truck traffic across the entire state.
Depending on where you are heading in Colorado:

US 160 in the southern part of Kans has very low traffic.
Hwy 96 is the TransAm route with excellent services and moderate to low traffic.
Hwy 4 is a beautiful ride across the Flint Hills with low traffic - connect to Hwy 96 at LaCrosse.

US 56 is a pleasant drive in the Flint Hills with limited shoulders - not great for cycling.
It really is the only paved option west towards Burlingame - then Hwy 31 to Hwy 4.

<<<>>>

Did grad work in Lawrence - know the Flint Hills - very nice, but you will have climbing.
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Old 07-26-17, 12:00 PM   #6
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Thanks much folks, I'll look this all over very shortly. 😎 I found "old" route 56, which is definitely not the same as new 56, and got down to Gardner, Kansas, where I'm about to dig into lunch. 😋
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Old 07-26-17, 12:10 PM   #7
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You could probably take 56 all the way to Great Bend, then latch onto the Trans-Am route starting in Rush Center. The nice thing about joining the Trans-Am route is almost every town along the way will have some kind of arrangement for cyclists to stay (sleep in church, camp in city park), and you can easily get the info by word-of-mouth.

This summer, I crossed Kansas eastbound (among other states), on the Trans-Am between Pueblo, CO and Rush Center, KS. After that, stopped in Great Bend, Salina, Manhattan, Lawrence (passing through Topeka), and Kansas City. I'm fond of college campuses and state capitols.
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Old 07-26-17, 12:15 PM   #8
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(apologies in advance)

Just follow the yellow brick road.
follow the yellow brick road.
follow,follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road.

if you have no idea what I'm on about, call your grandma.
LOL, I've been thinking up dumb Oz jokes, for my sister's kids, back in PA. 😁 But I got distracted by a nice " yellow" potato salad (eggs made it yellow).
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Old 07-26-17, 12:28 PM   #9
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You could probably take 56 all the way to Great Bend, then latch onto the Trans-Am route starting in Rush Center. The nice thing about joining the Trans-Am route is almost every town along the way will have some kind of arrangement for cyclists to stay (sleep in church, camp in city park), and you can easily get the info by word-of-mouth.

This summer, I crossed Kansas eastbound (among other states), on the Trans-Am between Pueblo, CO and Rush Center, KS. After that, stopped in Great Bend, Salina, Manhattan, Lawrence (passing through Topeka), and Kansas City. I'm fond of college campuses and state capitols.
Yeah, 56 looks like a fairly decent option now, to get to 96. Leaving Olathe, there was a really bad section, maybe half a mile or so, where the berm was all torn up from something. But once through that, there's a few miles of shiny new road, then back to normal good condition road, coming into Gardner.
I started this little ride in Northeast Ohio, so crossed Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri now, with no real issues. I hate to admit it, but I was just overwhelmed with the scope of Kansas City. After all, it takes 2 states to hold that 1 city. 😁
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Old 07-26-17, 12:41 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Shame you didn't trust Adventure Cycling's Trans Am maps that cover Kansas.


https://www.adventurecycling.org/rou...america-trail/


Maybe you can get a hard copy of this from a chamber of commerce/tourism office:


http://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdot...ts/BikeMap.pdf

The Trans America route on the Heat Map, in green highlighter. It's a zoomed out view of the whole state of Kansas.
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File Type: jpg KS TS.JPG (93.4 KB, 136 views)

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Old 07-26-17, 12:58 PM   #11
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Thanks much folks, I'll look this all over very shortly. 😎 I found "old" route 56, which is definitely not the same as new 56, and got down to Gardner, Kansas, where I'm about to dig into lunch. 😋
US 56 is pretty busy west of Gardner past US 59 and US 75 to Scranton. Not nearly as busy as US 50.
Very little in the way of shoulders - be careful. The only other option is a mix of county paved & dirt.

US 56 west of the Kansas Turnpike has moderate traffic and is scenic - Council Grove a nice town.
But I suggest Hwy 31 and Hwy 4 because they are almost empty. And beautiful riding.
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Old 07-26-17, 01:07 PM   #12
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Look on google maps. It's all you need. Use the bicycle function . Unlimited options across Kansas.
Western Kansas has plenty of paved roads. Highway 160 on the southern part is scenic in the western half. Probably your best option.
If you are in Gardner now go to Ottawa then straight west past Pomona Reservior. In fact, when going across Kansas plot a course from reservoir to reservoir . Lot of camping and swimming. Tons of free camping.
Tonight you can camp at Hilldale Lake. You can pay if you want but there usually isn't anyone there at the gate on weekdays to take your money.
Also, in Ottawa you can pick up the flint hills bike path. It's good until Osage City. Then it kind of sucks for about 20 miles. Then it gets good again all the way to Council Grove. Outstanding riding just before Council Grove. You won't be disappointed. After that the trail either disappears or isn't maintained. It used to be a railroad bed.

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Old 07-26-17, 06:28 PM   #13
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Welp, we got lots of rain here this afternoon, with a bigger storm called for this evening. So I ate a lot of chicken & updated my Windows phone, which by chance included an update for maps. 😁 Tomorrow's another day. Thanks again everyone, sometimes another brain or 2 or 3 really helps. 😎
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Old 07-26-17, 06:31 PM   #14
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LOL, I've been thinking up dumb Oz jokes, for my sister's kids, back in PA. 😁 But I got distracted by a nice " yellow" potato salad (eggs made it yellow).
thankyou for that, I had sort of lost hope that anyone would find that remotely funny.
I did, although I guess thats more of a reflection on me than anyone else.
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Old 07-27-17, 11:57 AM   #15
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OK, made it to Ottawa. It should be all swimming holes & nekkid women now, right? 😁 I just need to find this "alleged" bike trail now, to stay off the roads. Oh, that 11 miles on route 59 wasn't bad at all, on the new, and not all bad on the old, either. 🤔
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Old 07-27-17, 12:06 PM   #16
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I just need to find this "alleged" bike trail now, to stay off the roads.

Go to Google Maps and search for Prairie Spirit Bike Trail trailhead Ottawa, KS. It will show you precisely where the trailhead is.


Or you could simply check out the official trail web site for maps and information on the towns it passes through.
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Old 07-27-17, 12:09 PM   #17
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These were supposed to be in my last post.
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Old 07-27-17, 12:19 PM   #18
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Go to Google Maps and search for Prairie Spirit Bike Trail trailhead Ottawa, KS. It will show you precisely where the trailhead is.
Not before my afternoon tea break, it won't. ☕ 😁
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Old 07-27-17, 12:27 PM   #19
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Lived here all my life. Hwy 50 and 56 are death traps, especially the further west you go. Narrow shoulders and LOTS of semi traffic.

In Ottawa you can pick up the Flint Hills Nature Trail which will take you west quite a ways. It's a rail-trail and is still under construction in places so parts of it are very very good and parts of it are still nearly impassable.

As far as the rest of the state is concerned, if it was me I'd avoid any highway with a "U.S." designation if possible, and avoid the "KS" highways too. There's a lot of paved county roads but finding them on maps takes some effort, depending on the map. And it all depends on that particular county's maintenance, a paved road might end abruptly at the county line.

The best maps, in my opinion, are the Kansas Department of Transportation county maps. Hopefully you can view them on your mobile device:

https://www.ksdot.org/maps.asp

You could easily get across the whole state on gravel roads (that's why gravel riding is so popular here) but I don't know if your setup will work on gravel.
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Old 07-27-17, 12:28 PM   #20
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Also, Wizard of Oz jokes are predictable and uninspired. Everyone in this state has heard them a million times.
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Old 07-27-17, 12:48 PM   #21
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KSRyder, I'm at Forest Park now, between Logan and the number streets. I might be looking at the trailhead across the street, and too dumb to know it. 😉 BTW, I'm running 700x35 tires, on a Trek 620, so should be fine, once I get pointed West again. 😎

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Old 07-27-17, 01:31 PM   #22
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Also, Wizard of Oz jokes are predictable and uninspired. Everyone in this state has heard them a million times.
being an Eastern Canadian, Kansas seems as far off as Timbuktu to me, and unfortunately the movie is what comes to mind whenever I see the name of your state, and yes, I can see how it gets tiring, even after all the decades (without googling it, I seem to recall it was made in 39)
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Old 07-27-17, 01:59 PM   #23
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KSRyder, I'm at Forest Park now, between Logan and the number streets. I might be looking at the trailhead across the street, and too dumb to know it. �� BTW, I'm running 700x35 tires, on a Trek 620, so should be fine, once I get pointed West again. ��
You should be close. Follow the Google Maps trail out of town. They recently just opened the stretch from Ottawa to Pomona, but the Google Maps trail hasn't caught up to it yet.

ottawtrailhead.jpg

Edited to add: Well apparently my screenshot skills leave something to be desired, but you should get the idea.

BTW 700x35 should be good for almost all of the gravel you'll encounter, but maybe drop your PSI by 10 or so.
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Old 07-27-17, 03:15 PM   #24
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So, I've been learning a lot about "trusting" maps lately, lol. Don't do it. 🙄😉 But all joking aside, I'm crossing Kansas now, and was planning to take route 50 West, into Colorado. Coming through Kansas City, it turned into a very scary 5-lane highway, which I'd just as soon avoid altogether.
I'm now on the Santa Fe Trail, going through Olathe, and "hoping" that 50 calms down and gets more civilized, as I get away from the city. Any input? TIA.
Define "best". When ever I ride in the mid-west in summer I'm buffeted by howling winds. I hate that, but perhaps you like it?
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Old 07-27-17, 03:42 PM   #25
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Define "best". When ever I ride in the mid-west in summer I'm buffeted by howling winds. I hate that, but perhaps you like it?
OK, "best" implies there's a Dairy Queen every 5 miles, with plenty of picnic pavilions to sleep under, in case of rain. 😁 And I might as well ask for a clean and affordable laundromat, close to each one. 😉
I don't particularly like headwinds, myself, and have had so few tailwinds, I feel like they must be illegal, for me. But I'm not in any big hurry, so damn the wind, I'll still get there, eventually. 😎
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