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Reply to Trail from Valentine to Chadron

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Reply to Trail from Valentine to Chadron
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Don from Des Moines IA on 5/28/2020 5:41:08 PM:
Hello. I plan to leave Des Moines mid June self contained and ride the trail from Norfolk to Chadron. From what I've gathered the trail does continue on from Valentine but the surface changes. Can anyone provide details on what I'll encounter after Valentine? I'm riding a gravel bike with 650B x 47 tires which have worked well on Iowa gravel and B grade roads. Also bringing tubes and patches. Thanks in advance!

Karl from West Nyack,NY on 5/28/2020 8:13:53 PM:
Tried that last year this time. There is no trail west of Valentine - most places, the cattle fencing comes right up to the US 20 ROW. Occasionally you will see an old trestle or stream crossing where the RR used to be. But with a few small exceptions, you cannot ride it, plan to ride US 20.

Don from Des Moines IA on 5/29/2020 1:01:57 PM:
Thank you for the info Karl!

Craig from Windsor Heights, IA on 6/3/2020 8:10:51 PM:
I just returned from the Cowboy Trail yesterday. I was riding self-contained with three friends. I was riding a gravel bike. 38s with tubes. First day we rode from Norfolk to O’Neill. Camped at the city park. Second day we continued on to Long Pine, where we stayed at the Bunkhouse. We did have to ride a few stretches on the wide highway shoulder, due to trail wash-outs. 138 miles and no flats yet. Well day three was another story. We reached Ainsworth, and stopped at a convenience store before moving on, as we were heading out of Ainsworth, the trail became very rough and sketchy. After two miles, I had two flats. We had finally discovered the legendary Cowboy Trail thorns. My riding partners decided to move to the highway shoulder. I chose to walk my bike back to Ainsworth and arrange a ride back to Norfolk. I did not come on this trip to ride the last 45 miles on the highway shoulder. The trail was monotonous enough. My riding partners went on, but sent me a message about two hours later that they too were turning back and cutting their trip short. If you are counting on any food or drink in the towns, be sure to research amenities carefully. Several of the towns on the trail had no businesses at all. All in all I went away quite disappointed by the experience. I will not be going back to the Cowboy Trail.

Chuck Haney from Whitefish on 6/5/2020 1:31:57 PM:
I rode Ainsworth- Valentine this morning. No flats. I would recommend to anyone to run "tubeless" tires (or use slime in your tubes.) Rode about half the route on Highway 20 which had a great wide shoulder. They must have gotten a great deal on gravel as the Cowboy Trail itself had too much loose gravel and made for slow going. You're right, not much for restaurants in the small towns along the way. Most of them are just short of ghost towns.

Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 6/5/2020 1:54:36 PM:
Sorry to hear that some people have not had a good ride. I'm sure the flooding of last year had some impact on the trail. My husband and I rode the trail into the August of 2017... While there were problems such as cattle tracks, 4 Wheeler tracks & 4 wheelers, gravel and some stickers, we made the trip no flats. We rode back-and-forth hopscotch from Valentine to Norfolk and back camping along the way. We did find a great little restaurant in Johnstown, The L Bow Saloon. We stayed in that city park and ate at the LOW twice. Great food and people. For us it was a great experience and we actually were only on the highway for the short part at Clearwater. We did get out on the highway and bypassed the Co-Op at Ainsworth per a local who said that was a really stickery section. My only other experience riding long distance on a rail to trail was the Katy trail. Definitely the Cowboy Trail is not like the Katy Trail but it was a great ride for us in 2017. Hopefully they can get it repaired and people will continue to use it. Would really be nice if it got finished to Chadron. but that is probably a long hard haul.

Don from DES MOINES on 6/6/2020 1:38:29 PM:
Thanks for the info, I considered going tubeless but currently not setup that way. I'll look at the slime option.

Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 6/6/2020 2:29:52 PM:
Odd thing about the thorns. I've done the trail from Norfolk to Valentine and back twice, both times in mid-Sept. In 2018 I did it solo and had no flats. Last year did it with my brother and we had more flats than I can count, maybe 10-15 between us, and we were both running tire liners. And it seems like it's from Ainsworth on. The trail wasn't nearly as well maintained from Long Pine to Valentine either year, but if you can get by that it's the best part of the trail, you're kind of out there in the middle of nowhere. I look at the Cowboy Trail as an adventure, not just a sterile bike ride on a paved bike path. Services are pretty scarce the day you ride from Long Pine to Valentine so be prepared to fend for yourself like the cowboys did if you have problems. Last year it rained something like 5 inches the night were in Long Pine, and another 6" the next night that we stayed in Valentine. We rode through water on the trail, water on the highway, and two places where the trail was washed out and it took both of us to work together to get the loaded bikes across the chasm to the other side. While riding through about 6" of water on the trail in one spot I dropped into a hole washed by the current and had my cell phone sucked out of my jersey pocket. All in all, we had a great adventure and stories to remember for years. We'll see what awaits us this year...… The remark someone made about new rock being applied way too thick is troubling because it's almost impossible to ride, even on a mtn bike with wide tires. A little more oversight of trail maintenance would surely be nice. I don't know what they could do about the thorns. I don't imagine that they'll be out there spraying 60 miles of trail given the economic situation. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger"-Nietzsche

Don from Des Moines IA on 6/6/2020 10:07:00 PM:
Appears no but are there other options besides Valentine to Chadron (gravel roads?) besides riding Highway 20?

Roy Retzlaff from Gordon on 6/13/2020 8:21:14 PM:
The trail is fully finished and taken care of from Gordon to Rushville witch is just 15 miles.

Roy Retzlaff from Gordon on 6/13/2020 8:21:33 PM:
The trail is fully finished and taken care of from Gordon to Rushville witch is just 15 miles.

Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 6/13/2020 8:49:19 PM:
Yeah! That is great news. Wished I was up there so I could ride that little section of the trail. Hats off to all the people that worked on that job. I know from experience that is a hard job to get trails ready to go so appreciate everybody's hard work! Thank you!

Don from Des Moines IA on 6/14/2020 6:52:55 PM:
Thank you!