Even before departing for the Pikes Peak ride, a plan was hatched for what is next – `cause it is always best to have a plan brewing. I mean there was very little doubt that the experience of riding over 1500 miles in a week would only lead to the desire for more of the same type of adventure so might as well be thinking ahead.
The idea for “The next big one” (as it was tentatively called in the “Furkot” map planning software) was simple… repeat the Pikes Peak style ride:
- cover somewhere close to 200 miles per day
- rustic, remote, challenging, backroads only – little or no highway
- a full week of riding
- camping each night
The significant difference in this plan was the concept of a circular route. This would eliminate the logistics of getting home at the end of the ride.
Having a home base in the Evansville Indiana area and given the amount of travel time / distance the circular route options cover a decent range of the midwest to explore.
Looking at each circle as a possible trajectory / region to cover, it is fairly simple to eliminate most of the northwest loops that lead into the flat, farmland of Illinois and western Indiana… with the grid like roads and minimal destinations for camping.
The western circles head back into Missouri, and while we now know there are some amazing roads in southern Missouri, we want this ride to be different, and we just covered some of that route in the Pikes Peak route. So, that leaves us heading east and/or south.
Looking for “good” roads means looking for good landscapes. When the roads and highways of the map are removed and the topography of the satellite image can be seen more clearly, a rugged green belt of forest and mountains is easily visible. This area is where we started investigating camp sites and back roads for the next big adventure.
To say it was easy might be a bit of an overstatement. However, compared to the route for the Pikes Peak Adventure, the “Next Big One” Route came together remarkably simply.
First item was to find camp locations at intervals that work for the week long / daily milage limits. This was the most dramatic difference from planing the route to Colorado. The western end of Kansas and eastern Colorado just don’t afford many options for “quality” camping. Most of the options are focused on motorhome parking lots rather than scenic / rustic tent camping.
The mid-south however is a treasure trove of amazing camp grounds… and the trip includes some stellar camp spots that fit perfectly into the needs of the route.
Second, and arguably the more important factor, was the availability of “fun” roads to connect the camp sites. Once again, the route seemed to materialize almost by itself with amazing back road options that easily connected to gas, food and even some cool “sight-seeing” destinations.
Here are the basics:
- depart Sunday (noonish) from Evansville Indiana
- return Saturday (about 4PM)
- roughly 200 miles each day (except for Sunday)
- average speed 30-ish miles per hour
- daily time on route 7AM to approximately 5PM
- daily actual ride time 4-5 hours
- breaks from riding average every 30-45min
- lunch at local / non-chain restaurants
- daily stops at grocery within an hour of camp for the night
- road conditions will vary – paved, gravel, dirt, unknown etc…
Some, or all of the above items may cause a person to give pause to accepting this adventure. To be clear, this is not designed to be a casual, easy going, cruise or a relaxing camping excursion. The trip concept is first and foremost about riding, a-lot of riding, intense riding, on demanding roads. The days are long (even with the frequent breaks) and while the inclusion of camping each night might conjure images of relaxation, the reality is much of the evening is spent prepping for camp, maintaining the equipment and setting up for the next day’s ride rather than sitting around a campfire with chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. The trip is purposely constructed to require high effort and provide little rest – a massive challenge that delivers equally massive exhilaration and fun!
We call it
“The Dixie Loop”
The “next big one” has turned into the “Dixie Loop 1242-148” and the route is set…