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Iowa Route??

Old 02-01-21, 02:25 PM
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Tandem Tom
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Iowa Route??

Maybe I am not looking in the right place but wondering if someone might have a lead.
​Wondering about a route across Iowa that would end in Council Bluffs. Is there an old Ragbrai route?
Any suggestions would be great!
Thanks!!
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Old 02-01-21, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Maybe I am not looking in the right place but wondering if someone might have a lead.
​Wondering about a route across Iowa that would end in Council Bluffs. Is there an old Ragbrai route?
Any suggestions would be great!
Thanks!!
Where are you entering? A route coming from Lansing is different from a routine coming from Keokuk. Far north vs far south.
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Old 02-02-21, 04:44 AM
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Canít vouch for it:

https://iowadot.gov/iowabikes/bikemap/home.aspx

ďLocalĒ knowledge probably has a lot to add.
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Old 02-02-21, 07:07 AM
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Looking to enter Iowa somewhere on the southeast side and exit at Council Bluffs.
Thanks!
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Old 02-02-21, 09:24 AM
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Davenport has the lovely Centennial Bridge.
Plus the westward bend of the Mississippi River lets you ride the bike trail
for 20 miles right alongside the river.
Seems counter-intuitive riding along the Mississippi on an E-W trip,
but it ain't. One of the best crossings there is.

Very nice state park just west - Wildcat Den - a historic old mill and camping.
Hwy 22 is "meh" but once you are at the park there are good county roads west

Iowa does not have shoulders on most of its highways.
Or, if they do, they are usually chunky gravel.
They are one of the few states that have gravel shoulders on US and state 4- lane routes.
Which means you have to be extra careful if you have to use these for a few miles.
Also, although some county roads are paved, they tend to serve county drivers.
So, they often do not link up well with the next county.

One other point - Iowa isn't flat - esp. western Iowa.
Many cyclists have "Iowa Shock" when they hit the endless goathills.
Part of the reason for this is that county roads follow section lines rather than the terrain.

Thru Des Moines on their excellent system of bike trails.
In western Iowa the route I've attached has you on the historic White Pole Hwy - Old US 6.
Then crosses into Nebraska on the Kerrey bike/ped bridge over the Missouri River.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35120317




Centennial Bridge from the River Trail
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Old 02-02-21, 03:29 PM
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This was typical of the roads in Iowa 14 years ago. Hopefully, they have improved since then. You might want to use Google Map Street View to check out the route. It will give you a good idea about shoulders. It has been awhile, but I remember some roads with shoulders that had rumble strips completely across the shoulder. My wife wrote a letter about the rumble strips to Iowa's governor when we got home

I agree, Iowa is not flat! That what causes the problem. On those short hills a cyclist my not be visible to the drivers approaching from behind them. We were riding on US-20 because our goal was to ride 20 across the U.S. from Oregon to Boston, but you have the option of picking a route with less traffic.

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Old 02-02-21, 03:56 PM
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https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35122865

This route would let you enter in SE IA and is almost entirely low traffic paved roads. There are few towns on the exact route, but it splits US34 and Hwy 2 across the state and there are a lot of towns on both those roads which are 3-5 miles off this route at any given time. The last 40mi into Counciltucky is a popular rail trail thats a mix of paved and crushed stone.
Southern Iowa is rural. Like really undeveloped. There are still towns every 6-12mi, but they are smaller than central and northern IA typically. And hills down there are continuous.

I guessed you want paved roads. If you prefer gravel, the options are seemingly endless and you really dont need pre-set directions- just find a town you want to get to and ride the graphed roads. Good chance of only passing a few cars each day on Southern Iowa gravel..
If you want to get up towards middle IA, then ride up into the Iowa City area and head west thru Des Moines. There are good paved road options this way too, but traffic will be heavier.


Edited to add- Doug has mentioned his traumatic Hwy20 ride across Iowa many times and I shake my head in confusion each time. Yeah- dont ride on Hwy20. There, problem solved. Pro tip- also dont ride your bike on the 405 when in LA.
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Old 02-02-21, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post

I agree, Iowa is not flat! That what causes the problem. On those short hills a cyclist my not be visible to the drivers approaching from behind them. We were riding on US-20 because our goal was to ride 20 across the U.S. from Oregon to Boston, but you have the option of picking a route with less traffic.
Especially the Southeastern and Southwester parts, and the miles between. I grew up in SE Iowa.
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Old 02-02-21, 05:59 PM
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I learned that Iowa isnít flat by coming south from Browning, MN ultimately to Davenport. Lots of chunky monkey hills. But to their credit, the relatively few drivers we saw were smart. A couple of us were cresting a steep hill. A car behind us hung back and waited rather than crossing the yellow line and possibly colliding with another vehicle, such as a combine.
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Old 02-02-21, 06:17 PM
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For what it is worth, here is my journal for trying to follow the Lincoln Highway across Iowa and stopping at Cedar Rapids: https://www.mvermeulen.org/lincoln/index.php

The Lincoln Highway in parts turns into US 30 and in parts are smaller parallel roads. You can see comments like this one for July 8th - "Today some delightful cycling along the old Lincoln Highway. Also some rather obnoxious riding along US30." Not all of US-30 was awful but gravel shoulders and busy bits had me happy to follow Lincoln Highway signs when they pointed off the busiest parts.

Prior to departure I had read a fair amount about the Lincoln Highway. That was a while ago, but still remember (a) there was a competition between Lincoln Highway and early routes such as the Coast-to-Coast Highway, US-6 if I recall (b) there was a Lincoln Highway association that was promoting early paving of roads. Eventually that faded away as governments assumed more of that role - but then re-surged as a nostalgia organization (c) they often spliced together existing routes. In some places such as say the Platte River in Nebraska routes often converged to a more obvious routing e.g. follow the Platte. However, in Iowa it wasn't as obvious and hence there were four or five different parallel routes all crossing the state.

Last edited by mev; 02-02-21 at 06:24 PM. Reason: Fixed link in response to reply #11.
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Old 02-02-21, 06:19 PM
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Your link doesn't seem to work.
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Old 02-02-21, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35122865

Edited to add- Doug has mentioned his traumatic Hwy20 ride across Iowa many times and I shake my head in confusion each time. Yeah- dont ride on Hwy20. There, problem solved. Pro tip- also dont ride your bike on the 405 when in LA.
It was not traumatic, and I don't think I ever depicted that way.

Last edited by Doug64; 02-02-21 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 02-02-21, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
It was not traumatic, and I don't think I ever depicted that way.
yes, I artfully described your posts.
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Old 02-02-21, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
yes, I artfully described your posts.
That's OK, they have probably been described in a lot of worse ways than that
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Old 02-03-21, 11:37 AM
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The 2019 Ragbrai route began in Council Bluffs. Their website will have it most likely; simply follow it backwards.
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Old 02-03-21, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by zweitesmal2 View Post
The 2019 Ragbrai route began in Council Bluffs. Their website will have it most likely; simply follow it backwards.
This is possible, but RAGBRAI routes usually include routing that is less than direct(to get certain miles each day and to hit specific pass thru towns). Also, it routes along some roads that are shut down for the ride, but are otherwise busy.
'19 RAGBRAI went northeast, then northeast and south, then northeast and south, then southeast, then east and north, then southeast, then west and south and west and south. It was a fun route for sure, and repeated some of the roads of '16(?) which was neat. But it goes in all sorts of directions other than the direct one.
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Old 02-03-21, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
For what it is worth, here is my journal for trying to follow the Lincoln Highway across Iowa and stopping at Cedar Rapids: Riding a lawn chair down the Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway in parts turns into US 30 and in parts are smaller parallel roads. You can see comments like this one for July 8th - "Today some delightful cycling along the old Lincoln Highway. Also some rather obnoxious riding along US30." Not all of US-30 was awful but gravel shoulders and busy bits had me happy to follow Lincoln Highway signs when they pointed off the busiest parts.

Prior to departure I had read a fair amount about the Lincoln Highway. That was a while ago, but still remember (a) there was a competition between Lincoln Highway and early routes such as the Coast-to-Coast Highway, US-6 if I recall (b) there was a Lincoln Highway association that was promoting early paving of roads. Eventually that faded away as governments assumed more of that role - but then re-surged as a nostalgia organization (c) they often spliced together existing routes. In some places such as say the Platte River in Nebraska routes often converged to a more obvious routing e.g. follow the Platte. However, in Iowa it wasn't as obvious and hence there were four or five different parallel routes all crossing the state.
That's quite a ways North of where the OP wants.
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Old 02-03-21, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Looking to enter Iowa somewhere on the southeast side and exit at Council Bluffs.
Thanks!
Iowa really isn't difficult to find routes across. There are so many roads running parallel to major routes, though in the Southern part there will be some that don't follow that pattern exactly. You can start by looking at Rt 34, it is a major route. It is heavily trafficked though. Rt. 92 also goes across Iowa a ways North of 34. It has less traffic, but is not as wide in most places. There are countless county roads between the two you can veer off on when you want.
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Old 02-03-21, 05:17 PM
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https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/pdf/bikemap.pdf
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Old 02-03-21, 09:06 PM
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I rode southern Iowa a couple times. I hardly remember it except it was easy. Camping in southern Iowa is easy at reservoirs. Parallel traverse to state highways on gravel roads is easy. When I was sick of gravel I went back to the state highway for a bit ....then I went back to gravel. 2" tires are best for this.
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Old 02-04-21, 05:33 AM
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You might check RidewWGPS for a route.
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Old 02-04-21, 06:06 AM
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Here's a rubric I use for traffic colume and riding comfort:
(AADT - Average Annual Daily Traffic)

Less than 500 - Magical
500-999 - Pleasant
1000-1999 - Satisfactory, shoulders helpful
2000-3999 - Nervous w/o shoulders, O.K. with
4000+ - Scary w/o shoulders, safe but busy with

(People from L.A. have higher traffic tolerance levels,)

Summer traffic levels tend to be higher than AADTs, esp. in destination areas.
Most back roads tend to have morning and evening commute peaks.
Mid/late morning is the best time to ride busier roads w/o shoulders.

Last edited by jamawani; 02-04-21 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 02-04-21, 07:14 AM
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John, thanks for the map link. But for some reason ,on a tablet, it will not work. I will try it on a desktop later today.
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Old 02-04-21, 10:18 AM
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Ordered the paper map as the online version does not seem to allow me to zoom in.
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Old 04-03-21, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Ordered the paper map as the online version does not seem to allow me to zoom in.
who is John? I see no one here by that name so I donít which map post you are referring to and where you got this paper map from?
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