Starting in May, my dad and I will bicycle to the 40 state parks in Missouri that have campgrounds.
Each spring thousands of bicycle tourists take to the highways to ride incredible long distances. Some of them participate in endurance events and races, such as Race Across America or the Tour Divide. The majority of them are on Adventure Cycling routes including the Lewis and Clark Route or the Trans-America Route, both of which pass through Missouri. Still others are on their own path.
My dad and I will join their ranks in May. We are designing our own route for our 40 State Parks tour, bicycling to the Missouri state parks that have campgrounds: 1400 miles and ~44 days, starting May 1. Since we aren't using a pre-designed route, we have a lot of logistics to figure out. While 40 of Missouri's state parks have campgrounds, we'll visit 35, omitting the most remote, but we'll pick up a couple (Ha Ha Tonka and Elephant Rock) that lack campgrounds and are en route between destinations.
You can easily imagine that doing the trip by bicycle means even more complex and detailed planning than if we undertook the trip by car, which would also require a considerable amount of planning. We certainly don't want to bicycle on I-70 or I-44, for example. Other roads might be difficult to bicycle, carrying a high volume of high speed traffic without adequate shoulders, but we have no way of knowing that.
We've spent hours with Google maps, using the satellite view and the street view, trying to determine if a road is gravel or paved, or if it has good shoulders. Even when we can get a good look at the shoulders, it's hard to tell if a rumble strip was improperly placed or if the shoulder is crumbled, such as the deteriorated shoulders of Hwy 6 west of Kirksville. For several years MoDOT has used rumble "stripes" on the white line instead of rumble strips filling the shoulder to accommodate bicyclists, but the old rumble strips still grace shoulders that haven't been attended to lately, such as on Hwy 136 in the far northwest corner of the state.
I knew early on I would use crazyguyonabike to manage our trip. The guestbook feature is an easy way to communicate with people interested in meeting up with us, helping out, or just following along. The journal aspect is designed specifically for bicycle tours. The map feature, however, doesn't have an easy way to import a route designed with google maps, so I've spent the last couple weeks tediously drawing maps.
The rest of the planning is much more fun. We have new tents and good sleeping bags. We have bicycle shorts and jerseys. Every campground has showers and 31 of them have laundry facilities. Most of them have lakes or rivers for fishing or rafting. And ten have Wi-Fi.
We'll see petroglyphs at Thousand Hills and Washington, earthworks at Crowder (named for the father of our selective service, incidentally), tobacco farms at Weston Bend, an octagonal school building at Watkins Mill, the oldest rock in America at Sam A. Baker, and a waterfall and the highest point in Missouri at Taum Sauk. Because of white nose syndrome in bats, we won't be able to visit more than one or two caves. We'll see a wide variety of plants, critters, and terrain as we pass through Ozarks, plateaus, rivers, forests, and plains.
Please browse our route and leave a note on the guestbook if you have some input or advice on our route, if you'd like to meet up or bicycle with us, or if you know of something on our way that we just can't miss.