|Cross Nation Gravel Route? (Image by C. Matthias)|
Since I am connected to a lot of gravel riding folks in one way or another, I hear about a lot of rides and routes that are not necessarily "events", per se', but are impressive none the less. Crossings of Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all things I've heard about in the recent past. All on as much gravel and dirt roads as possible.
However; I am now hearing about a possible route that would go North to South across the Great Plains, all on as much gravel as possible. A veritable "Great Divide route", only gravel centered and made for the gravelist. But wait a minute.........
Isn't that exactly what Adventuire Cycling had in mind for the Great Divide Route? Here's a brief description of the route from their site:
"The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is Adventure Cycling's premier off-pavement cycling route, crisscrossing the Continental Divide north to south. This route is defined by the word "remote." Its remoteness equates with spectacular terrain and scenery. The entire route is basically dirt-road and mountain-pass riding every day"
(Underlined emphasis is mine)
I'm not trying to be a "Negative Nancy", nor am I saying the route as proposed should not be done, but I am saying it won't be the first of its kind, because it already exists. You'd be hard pressed to find a more spectacular route, but that isn't the reason I am pointing this out.
|Will this old bridge be here in 5-10 yrs? (Image by A Andonopoulous)|
I also feel that if someone desires to make sure a route is correct, there is only one way to verify a route, and that is by "putting your eyes on it". A physical recon, is in my opinion, the only way to do a route "right". This means that if you establish a cross-nation route on gravel, it not only becomes a monumental task to recon, it becomes an even larger obstacle to maintain that route to be correct. Again, I am not saying "it cannot be done", I am saying it is a bigger bite to chew than maybe some folks have considered.
For example, there have been adventure routes planned to cross the nation by motorcycle, and these have met with mixed results. There are several cross-state motorcycle routes off pavement, and these are constantly updated by the riders to help those following in their tire tracks to make their rides successful. Could a cross-nation gravel route be done in like manner? This would assume enough riders, and enough that would care to report their findings, would indeed happen to ride said route. Maybe they would, and then again.......
Putting my money where my mouth is, I am going to be reconning a route, (Trans Iowa Masters Program), that will cross the entire state. It will be a big task to recon it to make (mostly) sure it is rideable for three months. What about next year? The year after that? I don't know. That's why either I, or someone else, would necessarily have to check said route on a regular basis to insure there were no truncated roads due to development, no major sections paved, no bridges out, and no damage to roads due to natural events that would make the route impassable. That's for 370 miles. Try thinking about doing that for a route 2-3 times as long!