For a few years now I have been asked for the old Trans Iowa V1 or V2 routes, (the point to point ones), or folks have hit on my idea for a companion route to RAGBRAI only on gravel. I have held off from doing this for several reasons.
I was able to get to it this weekend and knock it out. So here, for your own uses and devices, is a route that goes across the state of Iowa on mostly gravel. It does stop in bigger towns on occaision, but pass through towns are at a minimum. It just so happens that the stopping points for each day coincide with the 2010 RAGBRAI route. Other than that coincidence, there is no affiliation between this route and what the Des Moines Register is doing.
Following are links to Map My Ride that will get you the route for each of seven sections.
Disclaimers: While I have used my experiences and knowledge to the best of my abilities to make this route, there are NO GUARANTEES of ANYTHING! I did this from the cozy confines of my home at the seat of my computer desk. So just remember that if you do this and come upon roads that are truncated, B-roads, or bridges that are no longer around. If you get lost, that is your problem. If you get hurt, that is on you. If you think that it sucks worse than any route you've ever done, that is on you too.
So, beyond the obvious, here are some things of note........
Day One: You would be coming out of a highly trafficked, urban area. Be very careful here! Once out in the country, you will be greeted by unrelenting rolling hills. I have never been on any of this part of the route, so I have no specifics to pass along.
Day Two: Straight up to the Trans Iowa V2 route which you would join at the Little Sioux River. There is a heinous climb just north and east of Sioux Rapids, but other than that it is pretty dead pan flat with miles of straight roads to Algona. The Park in Algona is where we had our first Trans Iowa checkpoints and is the hometown of T.I. co-founder Jeff Kerkove.
Day Three: Bonus! The first chunk of the ride is the never before revealed beginning of the second half of T.I.V2. NOTE: When you get to Pilot Knob State Park you will be obliged to find and ride the approximately one mile of rutted, horse hoofed single track bridal path. It spits you back out onto 340th Street at the end of it. Where the route turns straight south is where you leave T.I.V2 course and head for Clear Lake. (Note: I spelled Clear Lake wrong on the Map My Ride header. Sorry!)
Day Four: Clear Lake to Charles City via the Shell Rock River valley. I've seen some of this route, but I haven't seen much of it. Should prove to be a scenic, easy ride.
Day Five: Charles City to Waterloo. I've been on this entire route and ridden a lot of it by bicycle. Easy ride.
Day Six: Waterloo to Manchester: I've ridden some of this route, some of it I've done on recons for Trans Iowas, and some is sight unseen. Mostly rolling hills and should be easy.
Day Seven: Much of this day will be very difficult. I've been in this neck of the woods a lot. Some of the middle of this route is T.I.V4 course. Dubuque County is unknown to me and much of this may be paved.
So, there you have it! A gravel route you can ride anytime and do just parts of if you want. There are fair amounts of pavement mixed in this route. I didn't spend a lot of time trying to eliminate paved miles like I would for a Trans Iowa route. Avoiding pavement miles is way harder than you might imagine, and I had nothing to gain by working that hard on this. The entire route in one chunk would be 491.22 miles. Again, it isn't an event, or anything like that. Just a suggested route. Do with it what you want! Choose your own adventure!
Note: Special thanks to Tim Jackson of Masi Bicycles for the name, "GravelBRAI" and to Rawland Cycles for inspiration.