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Poetry for the road
Colorado - Wisconsin Bicycle Tour, August 2002
I have finally posted my journal and photos from this trip.
The images in the journal can be browsed in this slideshow.
I will be taking a three week vacation, from August 17 until September
8, and will be riding my bicycle
from my home in Fort Collins, Colorado to my hometown of Connorsville,
Wisconsin. I estimate it will take about 14 days of riding, spread
over about 17 days
What will your route be?
I hope to be very flexible about my
route and timing. I have driven many of the possible roads along
the route, and visited many small towns. There are two main options.
The beginning and end of the routes are the same, they differ in
how I will cross the eastern half of Nebraska.
The trip will begin by riding east from Fort Colllins on state
highway 14 to Sterling, then following the Platte river to North Platte,
Nebraska. This will take three or four days. At North Platte
there will be a decision to make: do I follow the smooth, downhill,
but somewhat busy US highway 30 along the Platte, or do I head into the
sandhill country and enjoy smaller towns, lighter traffic, and more hills?
This is a decision I will make at the spur of the moment, the morning
I leave North Platte.
The first option will be about 960 miles with about 17,800 feet of
accumulated elevation gain, while the second option is slightly shorter,
at 944 miles with about 30,500 feet of elevation gain. Here is a
map showing one possible northern route.
Click on the map above to see a much larger view. The
numbered points along the routes indicate possible nightly stops, although
I am not setting an exact schedule -- it is much better to be flexible
in case some thing interesting comes up.
Why are you doing this?
I have lived in Fort Collins for about 15 years. During the course
of that time, I have travelled back to Wisconsin at least three times
a year, sometimes as many as six. I estimate I've driven back and
forth about 30 times, by many different routes. I've flown
about 20 round trips between Denver and Minneapolis on commercial airlines.
I've flown a Cessna 172 from Fort Collins to Boyceville. In
other words, I've used just about every viable form of transportation except
rail, horse, foot, and bicycle. I have always enjoyed bicycling, and
as a recreational rider have ridden about 2000 miles in the past year.
During the first several years of making these cross-country treks,
the one and only goal was to get it over with as quickly has legally (well,
almost legally) possible. I25 - I80 - I35 - I94 zoomzoomzoom. Then
a few years ago, I began to slow down and enjoy the back roads. Several
times I have driven the entire route without even getting on an interstate
highway. There are some very nice and interesting sites to see along
A little over a year ago, I tried to contact an aquainance at work,
Mike Vermeulen, whom a year before had been the project manager for one
of our software products. He had been very helpful when I found some
defects in the product, and I had some things I wanted to ask him about.
Much to my suprise, Mike had taken a
year off work
to ride his bicycle across the US, around Austrailia, Tasmania, northern
New Zealand, and southern India. This planted the seed of the idea for
this trip, but I was a long way from being in the kind of physical condition
required for an extended trip like this. I began riding more, and
have been working up to this over the past year.
Where will you sleep?
I think I will camp about half of the nights, and stay in motels the
other half. I enjoy camping, and have done many multi-day backcountry
backpacking trips. However, I do enjoy the comfort of a real bed
and a shower that it will be worth the money to stay in motels some of the
time. Many of the small towns along the way have town parks that
offer campsites for little or no cost.
What if you don't make it?
My goal is to ride for a little over two weeks, and to have a good
time and hopefully meet some interesting people and enjoy the trip. If
I don't get to Wisconsin before my time off is up, I will call friends
who will pick me up wherever I am, and will declare the trip a success
To Do list
Bicycle touring links
Chuck Anderson's description of a very similar route
Mike Vermeulen's fietstocht.com