I had the opportunity to be involved recently in a very fun project designing a 260-mile bike route going all the way across northern Missouri between Hannibal and St. Joseph.
The route stretches from one side of the state to another and generally follows U.S. 36, which was only recently completed as a four-lane, divided highway across the state. The route was done in conjunction with tourism boosters from the region keen to see more cyclists in their area, which is full of historic sites, state parks, charming little towns and terrific people.
The whole "Way of American Genius" thing comes from a string of famous people with ties to the region, including Walt Disney, Mark Twain, retailer JC Penney, WWI General John "Blackjack" Pershing and outlaw Jesse James. There are a number of historic sites along the route that highlights the lives of these people and their contributions to American culture.
Creating the a bike route was a fun experience for sure. Using Google maps and detailed maps provided by the state highway department with vehicle counts and other information, I aimed for low-traffic, high scenery state and county roads that paralled the main four lane highway and hit as many of the scenic and historic attractions as possible.
Once the route was complete on paper, we sought feedback from local cyclists and others who could give us feedback on the suitability of the routes we picked. Then, in September, we did a full-blown test ride make sure the route followed the roads that were the best options for cyclists. We took three days to cover the 260 miles, covering 80-90 miles a day. You can click here to see a video on the ride that came from the local news station, which did live coverage of our arrival into St. Joseph.
2013 will be the first full year of the route being promoted by the Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance, and the group is optimistic that there will be cyclists out on the road. It has already received a lot of attention from local, regional and national cycling groups, and there is talk about its eventual inclusion in the U.S. Bike Route System, a national network of existing bike routes. Feel free to contact me about this if you have any questions about the route.
- Highway 36 - Way of American Genius Bike Route website
- Is a Bike Tour Right for Me? A Self Quiz
- Bike Tour Packing List
- Survive and Thrive on a Long-Distance Ride