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  1. #1
    winning magazine junkie lofter's Avatar
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    rt 36 in kansas?

    anyone ever tour on rt 36 in kansas ? thinking bout doing a denver to stlouis ride.whats i like? traffic ? whats the shoulders like ? camping ? hotels? i dont want to do the transam. ive read a million journals it seems on that route.looking to do something different like maybe denver to kc via rt 36 then kc to katy trail to stlouis. any help out there?
    "dont worry charlie ,ive got an angle!!"

  2. #2
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter
    anyone ever tour on rt 36 in kansas ? thinking bout doing a denver to stlouis ride.whats i like? traffic ? whats the shoulders like ? camping ? hotels? i dont want to do the transam. ive read a million journals it seems on that route.looking to do something different like maybe denver to kc via rt 36 then kc to katy trail to stlouis. any help out there?
    Oh yes have I ever been on rt 36. In 1988 the Race Across AMerica took rt 36 from Denver almost all the way to the Missouri. In Missouri parts of it were excellent. Some 30 to 40 miles before the river the route went south towards St. Louis and over the river into Alton. Took 3 days but thats RAAM for you. No grief from anyone along the way. One big store in MO even opened up after hours so we could get groceries for our rider. I gave them several UMCA and RAAM pins in thanks. You might want to consider taking a bus down to Pueble and taking the TransAmerica Trail route. It reaches the Mississippi about a days ride south of St.Louis. Far more detailed information would be available on the Adventure Cycling site.
    This space open

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter
    anyone ever tour on rt 36 in kansas ? thinking bout doing a denver to stlouis ride.whats i like? traffic ? whats the shoulders like ? camping ? hotels? i dont want to do the transam. ive read a million journals it seems on that route.looking to do something different like maybe denver to kc via rt 36 then kc to katy trail to stlouis. any help out there?
    I rode it in 1988 and it was fine. You could camp at rest areas, which was convenient. Traffic wasn't bad. There were towns every 30 miles, so food, water and shelter is right there. The shoulders were average to good (I don't remember them being bad, so...). I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. There's even some rollers every once in a while, plus the summer heat to keep you on task. And lots of awesome wheat fields. I loved Kansas. John

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I've been on Route 36!! September 2005. And I nearly went insane with boredom!!

    If you'd like to know what the road conditions are like, take a look at the photos I, and others, took in the links below:

    http://www.machka.net/usa/24h_lcride.htm

    http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/mac...=/ab41&.src=ph

    If you'd like to cover a good chunk of that route in a very brief period of time next September, check out the Last Chance 1200K Randonnee information. You too can go insane with boredom!!
    http://www.rmccrides.com/lastchance.htm

    Oh, about accommodations ... let me think ... there's a small run-down motel in Byers. There might be a campground there too, but I'm not sure. There's absolutely NOTHING in Last Chance. Joe's has a picnic area, which might allow camping, but you can at least get water there. Atwood has a small run-down motel, and they are giving away free land. http://www.atwoodkansas.com/ There's a lake just north of the town (although I didn't see it) which might have camping facilities. Once you get into Kansas, the towns get a bit larger and have a few more facilities so you might be able to find better accommodations there.

    About traffic ... it was great between the hours of 1 am and 4 am. There was nothing out there. I could ride anywhere in the road!! However, between the hours of 4 am and 1 am (during the day) the traffic is fairly heavy ... especially the semi-truck traffic. I couldn't understand it. Cattle truck after cattle truck would come roaring past from both directions ... but the thing was ... they were all EMPTY! I saw ONE full cattle truck in the entire 90 hours I was out there. I almost started to wonder if it was the same half-dozen trucks roaring up and down past us cyclists just to annoy us. After a while, you do sort of get used to it.

    And ... whatever you do, do not roll your bicycle into the ditch at any time. I made the mistake of doing that, and I met the evil goatshead there!! You'll notice that there's a picture of me changing my tire. But if you are from Denver, you probably know about the goatsheads already.

    But I must say ... the people we encountered along that route were really friendly. You must stop at the cafe in Idalia!! They were wonderful and served us large and delicious sandwiches. But be warned ... they close early (like about 2 pm) ... so plan to get there for lunch.

  5. #5
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    I was out there with Machka at the Last Chance. There are also hotels in Norton and Philipsburg, KS. East of Philipsburg we didn't go, but as you head east, things seem to get more and more settled and there are more services.

    The road surfaces were excellent, moreso in Kansas than in Colorado. The lanes are extremely wide and there's a good-sized road shoulder for 95% of the distance from Boulder to Philipsburg. As for traffic, I'd say that the route was totally deserted at all times of the day. I guess it depends on what you're used to where you live and ride. What little traffic there was, however you characterize its quantum, was exceptionally friendly. Those big, empty trucks pulled well over to avoid blasting you with their draft, even if they were in the oncoming lane. Nearly every motorist waved in passing, too, which isn't done where I live.

    Some of the folks on the Last Chance hated the route for its monotony, but having always lived in a completely different part of the country I found the scenery stunningly beautiful and the terrain interesting to ride.

    P.S. -- Don't make the mistake that some do in thinking this is a flat route. We're talking endless 100-foot rollers here. Trust me, they do add up!

  6. #6
    winning magazine junkie lofter's Avatar
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    thanks everybody, i think im going to ride it.
    "dont worry charlie ,ive got an angle!!"

  7. #7
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Why not the Trans-Am route? Just want something different? I did the TA and thought it was great, mostly because of the people.

  8. #8
    winning magazine junkie lofter's Avatar
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    yeah just something different.like i said, ive read tons of journals from the trans am ,i feel as if i did it .i read crazyguyonabike and almost all the journals r by folks who have rode the transam.very little on any other routes cross country.just curios about a different route i guess
    "dont worry charlie ,ive got an angle!!"

  9. #9
    Hooked on Touring
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    Lofter -

    There are better roads then US 36. US 36 has fairly high traffic volumes in eastern Kansas and it has been graded to remove hills and curves which might account for Machka's comment about it being boring. It is essential to look for nuance in the Great Plains - and you can best do that on empty roads where you can hear birds and crickets and smell the freshly-mown hay rather than diesel fumes.

    Here's the Kansas DOT Traffic Volume Map - Use it to plan. There are also maps of county road traffic if you need.
    http://www.ksdot.org/burTransPlan/ma...ts/count05.pdf

    If you're going from Denver to St Louis US 36 in eastern Colorado is a good choice - traffic steadily drops as you head east of I-70. Also, the Katy Trail is tops - beautiful bluffs along the Missouri River and towns that are increasingly bike friendly. Some are across the river - like Hermann which is the very best - but the bridges are narrow with a lot of traffic - so be careful.

    So it's the in-between that you are wondering about, eh? Look at Kan Hwy 18 on a map. It heads west out of Junction City (Exit 300 on I-70) - Unlike most roads in the Great Plains, it winds it way through fields and streams. Plus you can do the Flint Hills - a gorgeous natural area in the Great Plains ecosystem - then catch the Katy Trail near it's western terminus as Windsor or Clinton.

    Possible route in Kans - US 36 to Atwood, KS 25 to Colby, US 24 to Nicodemus (State Park nearby with camping), county road south to KS 18, KS 18 to Junction City. (You will love riding thru the FLint Hills - the roads are empty and the views are incredible. Okay, you'll have to do some ups and downs, but they are worth it. I used to live in Topeka while I was teaching at KU and did a lot of riding here since it gave me a sense of the openness and naturalness of Wyoming.) So - - KS 57 to Alta Vista, KS 4 to Eskridge, KS 99 past Admire, KS 170 to Malvern Lake and Eisenhower State Park. (Now you are in eastern Kansas which is more heavily populater.) KS 31 to Gernett, County Road to Goodrich, Parker, and Cadmus, KS 152 to La Cygne.

    Across the state line in Missouri - zig north on county roads (J & Y) to Merwin - then take MO 18 east to Clinton. MO 18 has fairly light traffic - moderate around Adrian and as you get to Clinton. (1782 AADT just west of Clinton - still not bad at all)

    You know, I really love Wyoming, but if you zig and zag thru Kansas on back roads it's really quite nice.

    Best - John

    PS -
    1. In little bitty towns off the beaten track - they'll usually let you camp in the town park.
    2. The Rev. Don Deeker at Marthasville, MO was the greatest on two different trips - if you need anything contact the St Paul's UCC church in town.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Octopus
    The road surfaces were excellent, moreso in Kansas than in Colorado. The lanes are extremely wide and there's a good-sized road shoulder for 95% of the distance from Boulder to Philipsburg. As for traffic, I'd say that the route was totally deserted at all times of the day. I guess it depends on what you're used to where you live and ride. What little traffic there was, however you characterize its quantum, was exceptionally friendly. Those big, empty trucks pulled well over to avoid blasting you with their draft, even if they were in the oncoming lane. Nearly every motorist waved in passing, too, which isn't done where I live.

    Some of the folks on the Last Chance hated the route for its monotony, but having always lived in a completely different part of the country I found the scenery stunningly beautiful and the terrain interesting to ride.

    P.S. -- Don't make the mistake that some do in thinking this is a flat route. We're talking endless 100-foot rollers here. Trust me, they do add up!
    Those big, empty trucks sure did not pull over for Rowan and me ... but then I was thinking about it, and we were at the back of the pack, so we were likely the first cyclists they encountered, so possibly we sort of took them by surprise. Perhaps by the time they had passed several cyclists, they started pulling over. I recall "losing it" on the night going into Byers because there was a raging wind storm - a crosswind which was taking almost all my strength to keep my bicycle out of the rumble strips or out of the ditch ... and then those trucks kept flying past and just knocking me all over the road in their draft.

    Also, I'm used to either shoulders as wide as a lane (and the shoulders on route 36 were usually about half that), or very, very quiet country roads, with no shoulders, but where maybe one or two cars per hour might crawl slowly and carefully by, and where after about 8 pm ... you're not likely to see any cars again until about 6 am. So, you are probably right that it depends what a person is used to.

    As for the scenery .... I'm a trees, greenery, water person. For scenery to be beautiful to me, there has to be color, texture, greenness, blueness, rippling streams, large lakes, oceans, etc. ... but that's my own personal viewpoint. The scenery on that route was stunning all right. I didn't realize such an incredibly vast area existed with no trees!! I've never seen so much brown in all my life!! I'm used to prairie, but in Manitoba, it's green. Every farm yard is surrounded by a huge grove of trees, and they plant trees by the side of the road to block the wind. Also the only water I saw on the whole route existed in a few little dugouts. Perhaps earlier in the year (spring/early summer) it might be greener.

    I found myself watching the sky, the color of the sky throughout the day, the color and textures of the clouds, etc. I also found myself watching those fat fuzzy little black and yellow caterpillars that crossed the roads. And the millions of whirlwinds. Those were the three elements that kept me amused out there.

    And yes ... all those rolling hills do add up after a while. There's nothing really daunting out there (I didn't have to walk anything), but they do tend to be a bit relentless.

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