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  1. #1
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    My first tour. Route suggestions? Kansas, OK, AK.

    This will be my first tour ever. 4 hour rides are about the longest i've been on, but i'm usually loaded with somethings... oh and i ride everyday for atleast a couple hours (i really love to ride, being in a car makes me sad) I'm a young guy, 23, so i know all of a sudden i'll be riding past my limits, but i've done some pretty crazy hikes. having to keep up with much more experienced people, not being used to the 45lb pack on my back... but I just put my head down, tell myself I can do it, and trudge on. I generally know how to take care of my body, stretching, taking anti-inflammatories (i like tumeric and ginger), self massage, and breathing properly. So ok, all this disclaimer stuff aside (please don't tell me i'm going to die, i'm going to go anyway, haha.)

    I'll be leaving colorado springs, CO heading southeastish to Arkansas to catch the fall colors in the first or second week of october. I was thinking I'd go across Kansas, but Oklahoma is an interesting (maybe compared to kansas anyway) option. Opinions? I'm thinking I'd like to start my Arkansas ride in the north western corner, and then fallow the changing colors south (the leaves turn sooner in the north.) I've got the Arkansas traffic load map for trip planning... but was wondering if anyone could suggest some particularly stunning routes. I've got some super low gearing, so while i'm sure i won't be kicking the ass of hills, it's not my main concern to avoid them. After Arkansas i'll be heading south to Baton Rouge, LA to visit family and friends. I'm thinking my prettiest option will be to ride near the missisippi, but other route suggestions would be appriciated.

    So now it's the part of this post that I show off my bike:

    '77 schwinn super le tour 12.2
    8 speed casette 12-32
    triple crank 48-34-24
    A weird mix of components. but they were all donated to me! yay! and I got them to all work together smashingly, if i do say so myself. (i like friction shifting!)
    Cheap-o waterproof transit bags (i've heard the rivets can go, but if/when that happens i plan to macguyver them with some machine screws/nuts that i'll keep JIC) I've already had to do some minor mods to these bags, but in the 2 weeks i've been riding around everywhere with them they've never even hinted at popping off, and i don't always ride over smooth surfaces, or take it easy on the bike. The steel frame is just so fun and springy...

    Oh, one more possible major concern. I have only one pair of nice riding shorts. I read that pain in the gooch is mostly caused by bacteria/dirty gooch. I'm thinking each night i could spray the chamois pad with peroxide or alcohol or something? They'd get a wash on rest days. Should i invest in chamois cream stuff?

    Thanks for reading all this sillyness. i'm just getting excited!

    ...and if anyone will be in Arkansas during the 1st or 2nd week of october I'd probably enjoy a bit of company. Or if you live there and have a couch I could crash on that would be amazing too. This is going to be a super low budget ride. I'll be camping everynight. Unless I find a kind soul to let me stay the night in their house.. but i'm not a hotel kind of person. I have all my backpacking gear (water filter, camp stove, etc) to keep me alive.

    Edit: awe crap the "AK" in the topic should be "AR" if you didn't guess.
    Last edited by Malleabis; 09-22-08 at 02:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Sounds like a very nice trip. However, if your goal is to tour during peak fall colors, I wonder if you might be leaving too early?

    Do leaves start changing colors in AR during the 1st or 2nd week of October? AR is about the same latitude as NC/SC/GA (places I've lived) and it seems to me that leaves start changing in the latter half of Oct. or early Nov. in these states (except in the mountains where they start earlier), so I would expect similar changes then.

    ***
    Note, I just found this site for AR predictions for peak colors (late Oct or early Nov):

    http://www.arkansas.com/calendar/fall_foliage_pg1.aspx

    Do have a good time and also note that during fall drivers may be more interested in seeing leaves than bikers.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
    Sounds like a very nice trip. However, if your goal is to tour during peak fall colors, I wonder if you might be leaving too early?

    Do leaves start changing colors in AR during the 1st or 2nd week of October? AR is about the same latitude as NC/SC/GA (places I've lived) and it seems to me that leaves start changing in the latter half of Oct. or early Nov. in these states (except in the mountains where they start earlier), so I would expect similar changes then.

    ***
    Note, I just found this site for AR predictions for peak colors (late Oct or early Nov):

    http://www.arkansas.com/calendar/fall_foliage_pg1.aspx

    Do have a good time and also note that during fall drivers may be more interested in seeing leaves than bikers.
    Good save man! I swear i read that exact page but somehow the dates changed in my mind. Since i've never done such a tour i'm going to give my self plenty of time and rest days. It's about 1500 miles as a rough estimate. if i can do 50 miles a day average that's 30 days. half of that will being going up and down hills in AR i'm guessing and hoping. So yeah, I might leave a little later. I've been hiking a few times in AR and it seems as if the leaves are still pretty damn nice at least a week, maybe 2 before the "peak" but maybe someone has a more exact idea of how soon before peak the leaves really kick in (or out considering chlorophylllllll, hehe.)

  4. #4
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    Hey, I'm from Arkansas! Sorta, kinda. But been in N. California for 36 years. At any rate, check out Eureka Springs. I could never understand why anyone would visit Arkansas, until friends asked us to meet them in Eureka Springs. http://www.eurekasprings.org/


    Your bike looks well set up for touring. Have a great trip!

  5. #5
    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    I live in Ks (about 40 miles east of Wichita) if u need any road or local info about S.Central Ks. Jus Holla
    From The Springs U.S 50 would be the fastest way to get over to Mo./Ar. Wide shoulders,No great climbs (Just mild rollers on the eastern side of the state) and in Newton US 50 intersects the Trans-Am.

    And in Wichita There is a LBS that specializes in C&V Bikes Like yours (Bicycle Exchange)
    Last edited by The Figment; 09-22-08 at 11:34 AM.

  6. #6
    Hooked on Touring
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    I rode across the Plains on the Kansas/Okla border some years ago. There are some fabulous roads. Your biggest problem is how to get down to the Kansas/Okla border. Most routes on the Plains are either north-south or east-west. The few diagonals - because there are so few - tend to have heavy traffic. I would avoid US 50 like the plague.

    Winds - as you know, they can be intense in the High Plains. In eastern Colorado they tend to be southwesterly, but as you get towards Kansas they get to be more on a north-south axis. You should allow yourself a couple of options for the jog south so that you can do it on a tailwind day, not against brutal headwinds.

    West of I-35, US 160 in Kans and US 64 in Okla are both nice - US 160 is easier for you to access and is a bit quieter. I would access it by heading east on COLO 94 to Kit Carson then heading south on US 287. If I remember correctly, there ain't a whole lot in Kit Carson, but Eads, just south, is a county seat and on the TransAm. Or, better, continue east on the TransAm (Hwy 96) to Dighton, Kansas - then south to Meade on KS 23.

    Here's the Kansas Traffic Volume Map -
    http://www.ksdot.org/burtransplan/ma...rafficDist.asp
    They also have regional maps with county roads.

    Here's the Okla Traffic Volume Map -
    http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/hqdiv...7/statemap.pdf

    The Flint Hills, just east of I-35 in Kansas and extreme northern Okla are lovely - esp. in late summer/early fall. US 160 has less traffic than US 166 or US 60. But east of the Flint Hills it gets tricky - more population. Plus all the reservoirs cause two problems - recreation traffic plus very few bridge options. From Independence, KS take the back road to Coffeyville and old US 169 to Lenapah, Okla. I cut thru Vinita, Okla. which was so-so. I think it might be better to follow OKLA 10 east to Miami, then over to Highway 43 that hugs the border in three states, Mo, Okla, and Ark. Then from Siloam Springs, take ARK 16 into Fayetteville - a college town with bike shops and a laid-back atmosphere - - except on football Saturdays in the fall.

    My I encourage you to avoid anything close to Branson, Missouri or Eureka Springs, Arkansas? Tourist places with lots of traffic. The most amazing town I found in the Ozarks was Jasper - a tiny little Arkansas town with a town square and good Southern cookin'. There are nice, fairly low traffic roads between Fayetteville and Buffalo River which is part of the National Park Service with nice camping.

    If you were to continue heading southeast towards Batesville, you could follow Crowley's Ridge into Helena. Why Helena?? The Blues. Helena is the "Capital of the Blues" - along with Clarksdale on the other side of the river. There may not be any festivals, but there will always be great music in the clubs. Then MS 1 makes a good route down to Vicksburg.

    Riding next to the Mississippi. Although that is an option is Minnesota and Iowa, by the time you are in Mississippi and Louisiana it usually means riding next to a levee with the levee between you and the river. Occasionally the road tops the levee with views - or you can ride up the levee in a very few places.

    From Vicksburg ride south of Halls Ferry/Fisher Ferry Road to the Natchez Trace Parkway and take that lovely road to Natchez. Grand Gulf Park has camping right on the banks of the Mississippi. Also, you might want to consider a loop from Port Gibson thru Alcorn that includes the Windsor Ruins. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor_Ruins

    From Natchez you can take LA 131/LA 15 down the west side of the river to Lettsworth. This is a very remote section without anything other than a few fish camps. Primitive camping available at Old River. Then you can follow the west bank to Baton Rouge.

    <<<>>>

    I did the stretch from Colorado to Arkansas in early October and it was fabulous.
    Be glad to answer any questions.

    Enjoy! - - J
    Last edited by jamawani; 09-22-08 at 01:25 PM.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Jamawani... all your tips are exactly what i was looking for! i think you've just filled in all the missing spots in my route planning. If i end up taking some different roads i'll leat you know the results! Natchez trace parkway sounds like a must... really i think most of the routes you mention seem like definite must. I'm leaning towards oklahoma just because i'll get to cross an indian rez... might be more depressing than cool though. I'm mostly looking for quite roads like you suggested.. but i'll be supplementing my food with dumpster diving, and i find you can really get some high quality, totally clean food from cafe type places in bigger cities, so i'll have to aim for a few big places to fill my belly for freee. Some may frown at the idea of dumpster diving, but i've been doing it for a while now, and it's really fun to find a bag full of hand made breads and pastries (panera bread and similar cafe type places are good for this) and i'll never pay for a pizza again because i can almost always find whole pizzas still in the box (just sitting at the top.) Starbucks throws out a lot of really tasty stuff too. Maybe I should make a new thread about this to see how many other people dive for food on tours, and what places they like.

  8. #8
    Hooked on Touring
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    How about showing up at church dinners?
    All you have to listen to is a prayer before dinner.
    I was never turned away - even though I had no covered dish.
    They were happy to feed me. Buffet with everything from fried chicken to brownies.
    Sometimes they even let me crash at the church or just outside -
    Although I suspect that that happens less often, now.

  9. #9
    Bicycle Student bokerfest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    Hey, I'm from Arkansas! Sorta, kinda. But been in N. California for 36 years. At any rate, check out Eureka Springs. I could never understand why anyone would visit Arkansas, until friends asked us to meet them in Eureka Springs. http://www.eurekasprings.org/


    Your bike looks well set up for touring. Have a great trip!
    Malleabis,
    As Sunburst has stated, Eureka Springs is a great place to visit. However, the highways coming up on it are winedy as all get out and from living near by Eureka for 4 years I know the crazy drivers that hug those corners at all speeds. All the crosses on the turns you something as well.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
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    I'll keep that in mind. Sometimes I find other people's interpretations of the bible... what's a good word? offensive? terrifying? narrow minded? so that might work, but i might just stand up right in the middle of it and storm out... wouldn't make other bikers look too good. I grew up in the deep south and have dealt with some of the most prejudice close-minded hateful people trying to tell me how great organized religion is. I know these people are a small minority of most church goers out there... but it's left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

    I quite like the idea of myself as a food recycler. Not just getting a free meal, but using something that would otherwise go to a landfill. Plus, it's fun as hell, you never know what you're gonna find. More fun than sitting through bible verses IMO (just my opinion! sorry if i've offended someone!)

  11. #11
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    I live in northwest Arkansas. If it were me I'd take the Transam to just north of Joplin, MO, and then drop down to Arkansas as jamawani describes above. From Fayetteville I'd either head south on US 71 (easier) or east towards the Buffalo River (very difficult). The problem with going too far into the Ozarks is that services become spread out and the number of paved routes is extremely limited.

    You may find these useful:

    Missouri bicycle maps - http://mobikefed.org/momaps.php#proposedroutes
    Arkansas routes (includes cross-state along the Arkansas River and some Ozark recommendations) - http://arkansas.com/outdoors/biking/
    Bicycle routes near Fayetteville - http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0...8&ie=UTF8&z=10

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...956edec2ed&z=9

  12. #12
    Senior Member 5kdad's Avatar
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    I live in NW Arkansas, about 25 miles from both Eureka Springs, AR and Branson, MO. Just did a 4 state ride..AR, MO, OK, and KS. More MO than anything.
    Don't know if this would help, but here's were we went:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/4286
    In my area, the leaves are usually at their peak about the 3rd week of October. For some reason, last year it was about the first week of November. Hoping with all the rain we've had, will have some nice color this fall.
    Let me know your route and the days you might be in my area, might join you for a day, if I can get away from my job. Might even be able to let you stay for the night.
    My email is: dad_5ks@yahoo.com
    2011 Ride Across Arkansas:
    http://ozarkcyclingphotographer.blog...-arkansas.html

    RAGBRAI 2009-Photos and narrative:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/5329

    My seven days on the Katy Trail in Missouri:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/2094

  13. #13
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    Some other nice places in AR: Shady Lake, Camp Albert Pike. Anything along the Buffalo River is beautiful. And then there's Petit Jean(pronounced "PettyJean" locally) Mountain- some legend/story about a French/ Acadian girl who died there long ago- but is the story true? Well, there's lots of disagreement on that.

    Anyhoo, Petit Jean views are spectacular especially when the leaves turn- though on a bicycle, it would be a *punishing* climb, I suspect with lots of walking/pushing for even the fittest hill climbers. And you'd want good brakes for the ride down! It would be a lotta work- but might make a fine memory.
    Last edited by UncleStu; 09-26-08 at 04:11 PM.
    LBS? Here, DNE!

  14. #14
    Senior Member 5kdad's Avatar
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    Was thinking about some suggested routes. There are several "scenic" routes. But in Arkansas, "scenic" is another word for "hilly and lots of curves".
    Eureka Springs would definitely be worth checking out. You could come in from the west on Arkansas hwy 62, or from the north on Arkansas 23, via Missouri 86.
    From Eureka, you could go east to Harrison on 62, then take "scenic 7 south" through Jasper. You would go near Petit Jean Mountain, as has been suggested. From Russellville, you could head south to Hot Springs, another Arkansas tourist destination.
    2011 Ride Across Arkansas:
    http://ozarkcyclingphotographer.blog...-arkansas.html

    RAGBRAI 2009-Photos and narrative:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/5329

    My seven days on the Katy Trail in Missouri:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/2094

  15. #15
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    I strongly believe that we have an obligation to pay our own way in life, as well as on the road. All of this talk about dumpster diving, or feigning interest in order to cop a free meal...

    Have you folks considered that such behavior might have a negative impact on the next cyclist who comes to town? Such practices could reinforce a belief held by many locals...

    Bicycle Tourist = Freeloader

    On a more positive note, I suggest that you invest in a second pair of cycling shorts. Your idea of trying to "get by" with only a single pair ( single pair???) could lead to trouble where you least need it. It is a simple matter to wash one pair of shorts on a daily basis, and will allow you to start each morning with clean shorts.

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