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Which Route...?

Old 05-05-06, 09:15 AM
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Steele-Bike
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Which Route...?

The major road construction that I have endured for the past two years is coming to an end. But now that I have bought a house in a nearby town I have to leave the nice, new wide road behind. This leaves me with new issues for a commute into work.

The new home and work are 10 miles apart along I-80. When driving I can zip down the interstate and be at work in 15 minutes. Biking, which I have not yet attempted, I estimate to take one hour. Due to weather and things of the such, there are going to be many days where I drive, but I would like to bike as much as possible. The problem is that the only 2 routes are both highly undesirable. One route is along side a very hilly rural highway that is build up in such a way that it has a two foot paved shoulder and then drops off into a ditch. So, not much room for error. The other route is mostly back gravel roads. I don't have much experience riding on gravel, but I can't think a 8 mile daily ride on gravel would be all that much fun...not to mention the farm dogs.

I have plenty of high-viz gear, so I am leaning towards the highway. I just wish I could have a nice, paved back road to cruise in on....
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Old 05-05-06, 09:27 AM
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What's the traffic like on I-80? If it's light, get a mirror, ride centerish, and shift as necessary to let traffic by (if you even need to shift). If it's heavy traffic in both directions and you don't feel comfortable being out in the lane with the traffic (speed limit?), then I'd use a different route. A 2 foot shoulder is not wide enough to safely ride on if there's a drop off to your right.

Gravel roads wouldn't be bad on the right bike but your speed will certainly suffer. What type of bike do you currently ride?
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Old 05-05-06, 09:27 AM
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OMG they got hills in Iowa?

I would prefer the Interstate myself, but if you have alternate routes available it probably isn't legal, so I would probably opt for the hilly highway. Hills are just something you have to deal with if you want to get just about anywhere worth going. A 2 foot shoulder is plenty of buffer between you and the ditch.
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Old 05-05-06, 09:49 AM
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Oddly enough, the interstate would be the safest most direct route, although illegal. What's the difference getting hit by a car going 70 compared to 55...not much.

And yes, Iowa is hilly. Eastern Iowa, that is. I am only an hour from the largest river in America...everything hilly an hour from the Mississippi.
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Old 05-05-06, 10:17 AM
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Where are you going from/to? I used to ride IC to Hills and found lots of good routes to Coralville. Can't help you from the East, though.
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Old 05-05-06, 10:41 AM
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I go from West Branch to N. Dodge St in Iowa City. Nothing but gravel, farmers and hogs out this way.
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Old 05-05-06, 11:32 AM
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Try the rural road--they are great to ride on. You might come to love those hills.
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Old 05-05-06, 07:01 PM
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I grew up in Colorado, and always love hearing about those hills in Kansas and Iowa.

You are probably right about I-80 being illegal to cycle on, but I would double check it, because I know it is legal to ride I-80 in Wyoming and Nebraska.
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Old 05-08-06, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by CB HI
I grew up in Colorado, and always love hearing about those hills in Kansas and Iowa.
The hills of the Midwest are more annoying than anything. Up for a 1/8 mile and back down (repeat 100 times and I'm at work). Not much of a workout, just dizzying.

I think I am going to try out the gravel road. I have biked on many of the area rural highways and this stretch is more dangerous than most. Due to the rolling hills, curves and no shoulder there are many spots were visibility is limited. I will take my chances with the farm dogs....I better get some pepper spray.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:25 PM
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Have you checked with BIC to see if they have any route advice? I know they do the group rides from Iowa City going out near West Branch - no idea of the routes....
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