The route will be just over 1000 glorious gravel miles. The miles mostly consist of various types of gravel roads. Dirt roads are my favorite type of road and there are a fair number of miles of blissful dirt. There's no way to avoid the occasional piece of pavement leading into or out of towns so yes, there is pavement. Roughly 9% of the route is pavement. The direct route link can be found here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/41517212
The route will go through about 30 towns. The largest towns being of course Emporia, KS. The smallest towns contain a handful of residents but usually offer a community center or local church as possible water refills. These near ghost towns are the exceptions. Guaranteed water refill spots are typically 30-50 mile jumps with a couple exceptions at 70 miles. Food follows the same pattern with one exception where food refuel may be a 100 mile journey. Lodging is scarce and you will have to research and plan well. CALL ahead. Camping is available in camp sites or with advance notice small towns will usually let you take a nap in the city park. Ditch camping is discouraged. Think about the local rancher driving by at 5am and seeing some person in a ditch asleep...its creepy. Plan well and be ready for Kansas weather.
The Kansas counties as of today in alphabetical order are: Butler, Cowley, Chase, Chatauqua, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley and Wabaunsee. The Oklahoma counties as of today are Kay and Osage.
The route is entirely on public access roads. Please keep in mind as stated above, you are the outsider. Many local farmers and ranchers are used to driving these roads day in and day out without cyclists on them. Habits form. Mistakes can happen. The cyclist is usually the one who suffers the most when a mistake happens. Be aware. Be ready to move over. Be ready to hop off the bike if needed. I always wave. I always try to give a tired smile. I always give ranch trucks and farm equipment the right of way. They are working. I am playing.
Okay. Yes. We will record fastest known times. We will have separate records for Supported (Solo and Team Relay) plus Unsupported. Supported means I don't care if someone hands you a bottle every mile as long as your bike is completely self propelled. Non-Supported is exactly what it means. No non-rider pre-planned support along the route if this is the record you are going for. I ask observers to please respect the effort and allow the rider to ride with no support. I need to be notified at least 1 week ahead of time for ANY record attempt. You can attempt a record ITT at any time through out the year. No notification though equals no record attempt. I will verify all requested Time Trial attempts.
You must obey the laws of the lands you are crossing. Respect the locals you meet that live and work every day on the roads you are enjoying. A friendly wave goes a long way. You are on your own out there and unsupported but you are also an Ambassador of Gravel. You don't need to win every argument should one arise...you simply need to get back to enjoying your ride. Safely.
Cattle. Cattle will be everywhere! Cattle will be behind fences...cattle may not be behind fences. BE GENTLE when approaching cattle near the fence line or in open ranch land. The number one thing I try to avoid is startling the cattle. They will run and running can cause stress and injury. Approach at a slow and consistent speed and be vocal. I actually talk to them in a calm voice as I ride by. The point is to make them aware you are coming and that you are not a predator. I will say that sometimes stress can not be avoided and it's best just to move along quickly and move past them.
Oklahoma. You will be crossing and spending a long time on the lands of the Osage Nation and the Kaw Nation. I provided hyperlinks above to their respective information sites. Take a moment to read, research and gain some appreciation for their culture and history. Remember that you are a visitor and a guest while on these lands.
The roads are public. The ditch is public. The field or ranchland? NOT PUBLIC. Trespassing is serious to a lot of folks out in the Flint Hills. Be respectful. Road muddy? Ditch muddy? Field rideable? Enjoy the walk. Do not trespass. Should you need emergency help and come to a farmhouse...understood...but approach respectfully.