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I am thinking of putting together a week on the bike this late spring. The idea is to take as many rails to trails style paths as possible. Area is Central Wisconsin.

So far I have read about The 400, Elroy-Sparta and Nicolet trails. Ideally, I would take the Amtrak/Metra to some drop-off spot and get going north and west. 

Any ideas or suggestions on connecting trails so as to make this longer than a one-day ride? I am not averse to riding on country roads but prefer the safety of the R2T type paths.

Also, if you have done something like this and can chime in on the do's and don'ts, I would appreciate it.

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Amtrak to Kansas City and ride the trail back to St Charles, MO?

Amtrak to Alton, IL then follow the Katy Trail to Windsor to branch off onto the Rock Island Spur northwest to Pleasant Hill.

Find your way to Kansas City MO, spend the night and take the morning Amtrak back to St Louis and then the afternoon Amtrak back to Chicago.

All of the Amtrak routes allow carry-on bikes.

I agree the Katy Trail is a great option. FWIW, I found that it was NOT easy to find a safe-looking route from the trail to Kansas City. Another option is to take Amtrak back from Sedalia, MO. You can either stop riding west when you hit Sedalia, or keep riding west and then turn around and head back to Sedalia.

Another idea: if you decide to do this, it is easier to ride west-to-east. There is a slight uphill when you go east to west, as I learned. ;) 

A note on riding on the Katty Trail:

It follows the river, so in heaving forested areas there are a lot of mosquitos and flies.  You can outrun the mosquitos but not the flies.

However, there is a highway along most of the trail.  You can get off and ride along the highway to avoid the insects.  However, you're trading the insects for riding out in the sun on a hot day.

Thanks for the perspective and ideas, clp. I haven't really thought much about coordinated rides like Rabrai and the others. No way I get a map on my bedroom wall, but the garage will do. 

As to hills versus flatlands...I prefer a workout. But five or six 60+ mile days including hills might be a fair bit much. Maybe not. Also, I guess I thought it would be safer on protected trails that and the view from there would be less commercial (or so I would think.) I guess I will have to give that some thought. 

BTW  your, pure gold. Thank you!

I find that there is a trade-off either way when it comes to multi-day rides on a rail-to-trail versus normal roads.

Rail-to-trail can get monotonous, it is true. But, it is safe, and it is quite relaxing.

Normal roads are more interesting. But, it is not as easy to find and pick a safe route.

Both have their benefits and drawbacks. I've gone on a multi-day solo ride every year for the past 8 years, and in recent years I've been leaning toward rail-to-trail. I like the peace of mind.

Another option: Amtrak to Grand Rapids, MI. Ride the White Pine trail and the Pere Marquette trail.

Good luck!

Another version of this: Metra to Kenosha, ferry across the lake, ride trails (I don't know what they are, but I know they're there) from the coast to GR, then as before. 

1. Metra from Chicago to Harvard.

2. Amtrak from Winona, Minnesota to Chicago

or vice versa:)

My Suggested Map Route

This is my suggested route.I tried to maximize the amount of rails to trails in the shortest distance between the two trains.  It's a 250 mile ride, so you can break it up into however you'd like.

Interesting MagMileMarauder. Did you take this route?

I rode from Harvard to Baraboo (near Devil's Lake).  I'd like to do the Elroy-Sparta one day so I planned that route. 

A great thing about biking in Wisconsin is that all the country roads are paved (supposedly due to the dairy industry), so there's no need to ride on State roads where you'll have to deal with plenty of cars, campers and Harleys.

Walker has single-handedly wrecked their states road fund with splashy and expensive upgrades to appease his Milwaukee suburban base. That leaves little left over for a lot of those back roads. Gravel roads can be cost effective and many times are more appropriate, but obviously, aren't the most fun for road cycling.

According to this, Illinois is #5 in rural arterial condition vs #21 for Wisconsin:

Got anything beside your anecdotal experience?

And yes, while they do not focus on county roads, it stands to reason that maintenance of roads follows the patterns of use by motorists.



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