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Houston-Mississippi River-St. Louis - Kansas City

Old 01-06-19, 01:18 PM
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teacherlady
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Houston-Mississippi River-St. Louis - Kansas City

We are in the early stages of planning a trip from Houston, through Louisiana to the Mississippi, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, and then along the Katy Trail to Kansas City. We expect to leave in late March, and have to finish by late May. My range is about 50 flattish miles a day maximum for trips over a couple of days. Is it possible to do this trip without camping? I expect there will be plenty of services along the Katy Trail, but what about the rest of the trip? The rural roads mostly don't have shoulders according to Google Maps street view. Are the motorists mostly bike-tolerant if we are polite? How afraid do I need to be of dogs? How difficult is finding drinkable water? Will it be reliably above the mid 50's in the daytime on the Gulf Coast by late March and as we go north? Can anyone point me to good trip accounts? I haven't found much on CGOAB.

Thanks for any information you can give me.
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Old 01-06-19, 08:47 PM
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Warm Showers might help you with overnight stays. As far as what other cyclists have done check crazyguyonabike.com: Bicycle Touring: A place for bicycle tourists and their journals.
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Old 01-06-19, 09:58 PM
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Of the route you described, I have toured between Memphis and St Louis. The short answer is that is is possible to cover this without camping and stay pretty much within your daily mileage preference. I have not ridden south of Memphis, but some years ago researched it for a potential tour. I was able to design a route which put a roof over my head each night, but as I recall motels were fairly infrequent and I think there were a few pretty long days probably above your preferred daily distance. There is a book by Bob Robinson Bicycling Guide to the Mississippi River Trail (2008) which may have some helpful information.

When I rode portions of the Mississippi River Trail some years ago, parts of the route were on unpaved, almost farm track like "roads" with weeds as high as my handlebars in the center of the track. Other portions were unpaved but a nice and solid surface.
I did not have any issues with dogs, but I have a pretty high dog tolerance. Most motorists gave me a pretty wide birth, and there really wasn't all that much traffic anyway except for a few areas. I got along fine with only two water bottles, though I probably don't drink as much as I should.

That about taps me out.
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Old 01-07-19, 08:01 AM
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Adventure Cycling Association has has a mapped route running east-west 60 miles north of D/T Houston to New Orleans (the Southern Tier) and another running from New Orleans to St. Louis (the Great Rivers South). These cycletouring routes were created by cyclists for bicycle touring.

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Old 01-07-19, 09:26 AM
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It will probably be tough to do with limiting yourself to 50 miles. I think in certain areas, i.e. between New Roads and Natchez. You may need to camp and/or deviate significantly if you stick to the 50 mile limit and/or want to avoid heavy traffic. While it should be above 50F along the coast, it may or may not be as you go north especially during when a cold front (which will bring rain) pulls through. Check out WeatherSpark.com for the weather averages for most places in the world. Obviously, those are averages so the temps can easily be 15 degrees +/- from the average but WeatherSpark shows the chances of being in that range. Dogs should be OK but carry some Halt! (a dog repellent the USPS uses) if you feel concerned. Just don't spray it into the wind so it can blow back onto you. For traffic counts, check out the state's AADT maps (average annual daily traffic count) to get an idea. You can also see if the state has bike maps which often show shoulders and/or traffic counts.

Hope you have a great ride! John
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Old 01-07-19, 01:18 PM
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You can use Google Maps to locate lodging. Search "Motels near [insert name of town]". If nothing shows up, zoom out for more results. It's not a perfect system, but it is very useful.
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Old 01-08-19, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by teacherlady View Post
We are in the early stages of planning a trip from Houston, through Louisiana to the Mississippi, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, and then along the Katy Trail to Kansas City. We expect to leave in late March, and have to finish by late May. My range is about 50 flattish miles a day maximum for trips over a couple of days. Is it possible to do this trip without camping? I expect there will be plenty of services along the Katy Trail, but what about the rest of the trip? The rural roads mostly don't have shoulders according to Google Maps street view. Are the motorists mostly bike-tolerant if we are polite? How afraid do I need to be of dogs? How difficult is finding drinkable water? Will it be reliably above the mid 50's in the daytime on the Gulf Coast by late March and as we go north? Can anyone point me to good trip accounts? I haven't found much on CGOAB.

Thanks for any information you can give me.
(retired) teacherlady
I have biked from New Orleans to St. Louis, then west on the KATY for several days before following the Missouri River north to Omaha, NE. I mixed camping with cheap motels. I kept it really laid back and averaged about 50 miles per day easily but I have always felt that having the ability to crank out an 80-100 mile day if necessary sure relieves a lot of stress worrying about making the next town. Basically I took the Natchez Trace Parkway to the northern end, then made my way to Land Between The Lakes where I took that road north. Crossed the Missouri River on the Tolu/Cave-In-Rock Ferry to get from Kentucky to Illinois. This area was VERY hilly. Using an old Adventure Cyling Map combo of "Grand Rivers" and "Underground Railroad" routes to get across the Mississippi River at Cape Gerardeau on their new bridge. From there I made my way to Washington, Missouri where I crossed the Missouri River on a frightening bridge to the north bank and the KATY. Rode the KATY to as near Kansas City as I could, then took back roads the rest of the way to KC. Then up the east bank of the Missouri to Omaha where I caught a train to Chicago, then back to NOLA.

I didn't find the route any more frightening than the other 30 states I toured through. There was a ridiculous heat wave in early May when I did the trip so I stayed in hotel/motels a lot more than normal. I did this trip in 2005, so my old maps may not be so accurate any more. I will find them and post them here or get them to you digitally somehow if you want.
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