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Gravel road touring

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Gravel road touring

Old 12-03-15, 04:31 PM
  #1  
Squeezebox
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Gravel road touring

I'm interested in looking at the possibility of gravel road touring. A lot of potential here in Missouri. Here in St. Louis there is the Gateway off road cyclist group. I missed the last meeting. So fill me in a bit if you can.
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Old 12-03-15, 05:15 PM
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I have only done a little dirt road touring and some road touring with some gravel roads thrown in, so not a huge amount of experience here. On the dirt road tour I rode forest service roads that called for a mountain bike. That was fun and I would do it again. It is almost more like backpacking in some ways. You are be longer between resupply and need to carry more as a result. On the road tours, I found that the gravel regular rural roads that I did were always more of an annoyance than anything else.

So for me, I'd rather just avoid gravel roads when I can, unless doing stuff like forest service roads and taking the MTB. Your preferences my be different so trying some of both might be a good idea.
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Old 12-03-15, 05:22 PM
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Have you been on the Katy Trail? It will take you as far across Missouri as you wish to pedal. I think I've heard there are some good bed and breakfasts and motels available along it too.

I just rode my regular road bike on it. I could certainly feel the extra effort for the soft surface, but it wasn't bad, except trying to ride just after snow melted, when it just became soggy.

I've tried a bit of gravel riding/touring recently. I still prefer a good paved surface, but it is nice to get off the busy roads onto the less travelled roads. Now, if they were just all connected to go where I want to go.
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Old 12-03-15, 05:47 PM
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Go here.



If you decide to go one way instead of round trip, use Amtrak. We used Amtrak out of Kirkwood to go to west, then rode back.
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Old 12-03-15, 07:05 PM
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I've done this ride on the Katy Trail the last 5 years and plan on doing it again in 2016.

https://mostateparks.com/2016KTRide

If interested make sure to sign up on March 1st at 8 am. The ride is known to fill up in as short as 1 day.
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Old 12-03-15, 07:45 PM
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Get on your bike and ride some gravel.

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Old 12-04-15, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
I've done this ride on the Katy Trail the last 5 years and plan on doing it again in 2016.

https://mostateparks.com/2016KTRide

If interested make sure to sign up on March 1st at 8 am. The ride is known to fill up in as short as 1 day.
Interesting ! How many people do they limit it to?
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Old 12-04-15, 09:20 AM
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I was also hoping for some advice on what gravel road bicycle would be good.
Maybe I could do the Katy Trail west and then come back on rural and forest service roads.
When the Katy Trail was proposed the locals were in a uproar about it. Didn't want those kind of people coming across their areas. By now most see the economic benefit.
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Old 12-04-15, 09:31 AM
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I suggest a bike with two wheels.
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Old 12-04-15, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
I was also hoping for some advice on what gravel road bicycle would be good.
Maybe I could do the Katy Trail west and then come back on rural and forest service roads.
When the Katy Trail was proposed the locals were in a uproar about it. Didn't want those kind of people coming across their areas. By now most see the economic benefit.
Katy is well maintained, you could use any bike that you would road tour on, but if it was wet you might want the widest tires you could fit in the frame.
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Old 12-04-15, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Katy is well maintained, you could use any bike that you would road tour on, but if it was wet you might want the widest tires you could fit in the frame.
I rode my bike with 25mm tires (or 23?) on it just fine.
Wet or dry was fine. It would rain every couple of days in Missouri.

The problems with soggy trails was just after the snow melt.
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Old 12-04-15, 01:24 PM
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We just rode the Katy about 6 or 7 weeks ago and I would suggest that you call ahead for food and lodging beforehand if so desired. There seemed to be fewer services and places to eat than when I did it 7 or 8 years ago but the trail as a whole was in fantastic condition. Amtrak seems to have improved their treatment of cyclists as well and my trip from downtown St. Louis out to Sedalia was without incident.

If you want to do it in a supported fashion, there are several outfitters that run as many as 7 trips a year up and down the Katy so there are plenty to choose from if that's your thing.
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Old 12-04-15, 01:46 PM
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The crushed limestone of the Katy Trail is okay for just about any bike you throw at it, though you'll want wider tires than the typical road bike uses. My main memory of the Katy Trail, is that I took a significant portion of it back home with me, on me, my clothes, and my bike. From my shins down, I looked like Caspar the Ghost.
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Old 12-04-15, 02:06 PM
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Yea. That's one of the worst things about rail to trails is the fact that your drivetrain gets coated with the limestone dust. Cleaning is a pia.
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Old 12-04-15, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Yea. That's one of the worst things about rail to trails is the fact that your drivetrain gets coated with the limestone dust. Cleaning is a pia.
I wonder if they would ever considering paving it, or at least tarring it??
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Old 12-05-15, 04:01 AM
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Yes I think a road touring bicycle should do fine on the Katy Trail. But I was aiming my gravel road question more towards the local national forest and maybe some of the Great Divide trail.
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Old 12-05-15, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Erick L View Post
I suggest a bike with two wheels.

This guy and and this couple, and a few others, I'm sure, would argue this point! Mountain unicycling seems to be gaining in popularity--crazy!

The point being, it really doesn't matter much what you ride. If it doesn't work out (too many pinch flats, a pretzeled wheel), at least you tried it and didn't just sit on the couch with a computer in your lap (ahem).
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Old 12-05-15, 07:27 AM
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Not all gravel roads are the same, some really suck, others not so bad. The best non-asphalt road I've seen was on the GAP Great Allegheny Passage - www.gaptrail.org, but only after Ohiopyle, the stuff north of there was not as good, but still much better than much of the C&O canal.

Disclaimer: I don't have too much experience on gravel roads, I stick mainly to roads, but I've done enough to have an idea...
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Old 12-05-15, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
Interesting ! How many people do they limit it to?
350 riders. That's about right for a group riding on a trail. Also that number of people is about right for the camp grounds and overnight facilities.
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Old 12-05-15, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
I wonder if they would ever considering paving it, or at least tarring it??
I hope not.
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Old 12-05-15, 09:03 AM
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Does it get any better than gravel/dirt touring? I don't think so. Two years ago, my perfect touring bike had 28-32mm tires. Now, I cannot imagine setting off for a tour with anything narrower than a 41mm tire, and I am most keen on bringing a straight-up mountain bike for whatever may happen.

Some of my favorite dirt touring tires right now:

Schwalbe Marathon Mondial
Maxxis Re-Fuse 40c w/ Puncture Protection, Tubeless
Teravail Sparwood 2.2 w/ Aramid Casing, Tubeless

Here's some pics of the terrain you find when you leave the Car network:











You just can't beat that!
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Old 12-05-15, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
I hope not.
+1. And I doubt it will ever happen. Putting aside the initial cost of paving 240 miles, future maintenance would be costly. There is not much worse trail-wise than a poorly maintained, paved trail. I do a yearly ride to Brooklyn that uses a short section of paved recreational trail in north Jersey. For a few years we actually opted for a busy road instead of the trail because the surface was so poorly maintained.

If you ever tour the Black Hills (lots of gravel roads in that par of SD) I recommend the Mickelson Trail. Beautiful scenery and some relatively remote sections. It's not a warm and fussy trail like the GAP, but that's part of what it makes it attractive and challenging.

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Old 12-05-15, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
This guy and and this couple, and a few others, I'm sure, would argue this point! Mountain unicycling seems to be gaining in popularity--crazy!
I knew someone would point out some touring unicyclist. But then, it's not a bi-cycle if it doesn't have two wheels.

The point being, it really doesn't matter much what you ride. If it doesn't work out (too many pinch flats, a pretzeled wheel), at least you tried it and didn't just sit on the couch with a computer in your lap (ahem).
That's why I posted this useless reply. I think squeezebox is only interested in internet tours.
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Old 12-05-15, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Yea. That's one of the worst things about rail to trails is the fact that your drivetrain gets coated with the limestone dust. Cleaning is a pia.
Flame on!

Not if you use the right chain lubricant (Hint: it the one that isn't oily)
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Old 12-05-15, 10:54 AM
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I've ridden the Velo Dirt routes on my 520 with dog in tow and two panniers. 700x35 Clement ush tire and Gary OS bar. Yes, you need a dry lube. The KATY trail is boring, but the side routes are a blast.
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