katy trail

“GOODBYE, KATY!” (Tuesday, October 19, 2010)

Woke up this morning rested, but with legs feeling sore. Both Mark and Jan had to get to work early, so had a quiet morning catching up on emails, making St. Louis media calls and keeping their dogs company. Then it was back on the leaf-covered KATY Trail. 

Made a short side trip to beautiful Klondike Park to get a better look at the massive Labadie coal plant (ranked 22nd in the country on a list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal combustion waste) across the Missouri River.

Disheartening sight, but on the way ran into a couple walking on the trail, one of whom happened to know an anchor at Fox News, who he called on the spot. This turned into an invitation to appear on their 9:00 am show tomorrow. Really appreciate that, Ralph! Thanks are due as well to fellow biker Joe for the granola bars that powered me into town at the end of the day. And to Rock for cluing me in on the safest bridge across the Missouri River. Turns out the bike path didn’t end at the bridge, but went on for miles, around a beautiful lake, where I saw my first deer of the trip. It also got me almost to my destination in Maryland Heights, near where the Fox piece will be taped tomorrow. Thanks, too, to Adam Glenn at the Sheraton for cutting me a huge break on a room, and most of all to my great friend, Paul Alexander, for helping me with media outreach today.

An easy 36 miles today tracing the steps of the intrepid explorers Lewis and Clark, but there was nothing easy about saying goodbye to Katy.

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“DESTINATION: MICROBREWERY” (Monday, October 18, 2010)

Spent the morning at the bike hostel taking advantage of an actual desk and good internet access to update my blog and check emails. Cost me valuable ride time, but had to be done. Then hit it hard for 4 hours, grabbing some food at a local store to power me along the way. Was flagged down twice that afternoon by people wanting to know what I was riding. Both really appreciated the trike, the second, “Biker Jim,” being a veteran of numerous cross-country rides.

Kicked in the electric-assist motor in the late afternoon to give me a little more speed, as I really wanted to make Augusta by dinnertime (heard they had a great microbrewery right off the trail). Passed an ice cream shop for trail riders on the way and couldn’t resist stopping in for a malt. Finally rolled in the Augusta Brewing Co., an open-patio bar/restaurant right before sunset, and sat down to good food and drink. No better way to cap off a 67-mile ride day. Took this photo after the moon had risen.

Was planning to ride on 5 more miles to a state park until the owner of the bar said I could pitch my tent at the bottom of the hill. Not long after I did, a Harley biker who owns Weinstrasse Cabins walked into the bar, heard I’m riding from Colorado to DC and offered to have me stay at his house. Turns out we had both experienced Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado’s high country before it got developed. We loaded the trike onto the bed of his pick-up, drove a mile to his home, and enjoyed a nice (second) dinner that his wife, Jan, had cooked up. Nothing like a home cooked meal, hot shower, soft bed, and clean clothes after a day of riding like today. Thanks, Mark and Jan! The kicker was walking into their house to be greeted by 5 dogs and a cat, which I’ve really missed, not having been around animals much on this trip. Their dog, Dusty (who knows how to open doors, among other things), is one of the smartest animals I’ve ever met. Just look at him.

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“BOY SCOUTS & RIVER BLUES” (October 17, 2010)

Packed up in the morning, pedaled over to the water spigot to fill up my water bladders, and was surrounded by Boy Scouts wanting to check out the rocket trike. A couple of the scoutmasters rounded up some more kids and asked me to say a few words about my ride. They listened intently (probably didn’t hurt that I told them I used to be a Boy Scout myself). Got some high fives from some of the boys on my way out.

Rode 10 miles to the next town, where I got a big lunch. Then pedaled another 15 miles to a little Thai stand everyone was recommending and loaded up with another meal there. After going without yesterday, wanted to make sure my caloric intake was covered today. Rolled by “Boathenge” (an artistic display of old boats sticking out of the ground) nearby, then back on the trail.

Rolling down the trail a little later, saw a handmade sign announcing a blues band, the “Naked Hippies” (they weren’t naked), was playing a free show down at the river from 1:00 to 5:30. It was a little after 1:00, and I love the blues, so figured I’d check it out. Great scene: a raised stage right next to the river with a band playing and locals kicking back in fold-up chairs. I listened to a couple songs, rolled up to the stage during a break to drop a couple of bucks in the tip jar, then had a fun banter with the band members, who loved the trike and were excited to hear about the ride. Great sound, which you can hear here.

Further down the trail, ran into Gary from yesterday, who told me about a bike hostel in the town of Tebbetts that I should be able to make by nightfall. I asked about ATMs, as I hadn’t planned on using cash for days on end (a necessity in small towns along the trail), and he proceeded to empty his wallet so I would have some cash for the night. Thanks, Gary! Lots of great interactions with fellow bikers on the trail today, including Bill and his daughter Sydney who were on their tandem bike and rode with me for a stretch. And then I came across this beautiful snake, soaking up the last of the day’s warmth on the trail.

Rode the last mile in total darkness, soaked in sweat (like every day) – with one headlight already out of power and the other probably not far behind – so was relieved to find the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts. I thought I’d probably roll into a darkened hostel, but there were bikes scattered all around the front yard, and a warm light glowing inside. Met some really cool University of Nebraska students biking the trail who fixed me up with some pancakes. Several shared with me their disdain for the two major political parties and thanked me for “being their voice in Washington, DC.” Nice.

The terrain today was totally flat, unlike yesterday, so the chat (the finely crushed gravel they use on the trail) slowed me down. Only got 63 miles in, and they were hard miles. But right knee feeling better and stronger. Will probably use the electric motor some tomorrow, to get some more miles under my belt. Need to keep moving if I hope to have any chance of getting to DC before the snow flies.

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“HELLO, KATY!” (October 16, 2010)

Rolled out of my motel room fairly early and made tracks for Sedalia on Hwy. 50. Hit some more rumble strips on the narrow shoulder, so was relieved to finally reach the KATY Trail in Sedalia.

Before hitting the trail, made a quick stop at the Sedalia Democrat, which took a shot of the trike and said they’d run a story. For those not familiar with the KATY Trail, this is the nation’s crown jewel rail-to-trail bike path. Hats off to Ted and Pat Jones (of the Edward Jones investment family) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for creating this national treasure! The bike path is 225 miles long and crosses most of Missouri. I’ll be biking 150 miles of it, with most of it following the beautiful Missouri River. We need bike trails like this in every state. If fact, we need a national coast-to-coast bike trail for the American people to be able to safely explore this great country by bicycle.

I had wondered how the tires of the rocket trike would do on chat (the finely crushed gravel they use on this trail), but it turns out there was no real cause for concern. On the first section at least, the trike cruised better on this than on any paved road I’ve ridden on thus far, and what a relief to be away from all the cars, trucks, noise and exhaust. The beauty of riding on leaves and being nestled in by a canopy of colorful trees is just indescribable. My favorite ride day so far.

Had an energy crash late in the afternoon, but took care of that by consuming some Chocolate Almond Butter from sponsor Justin’s Nut Butter, along with dates and dried apricots. That powered me all the way to New Franklin.

Made the campsite in New Franklin just as the sun was setting, riding by some Boy Scouts setting off a rocket in a field. That brought back memories. Pulled into the campground, set up the tent, and rode through the campground to share it with the scouts. They loved it. Met a couple of cool bikers, Rock Warmsley and Marcus Ware, who had passed me earlier on the trail. Enjoyed some great conversation over cold beers and a campfire before calling it a night.

Today was the most physically challenging day of the trip thus far, but in a good way, as the relatively flat terrain made for extended stretches of pedaling. Knocked out 72 miles. Didn’t engage the electric motor once on the trail, as I wanted my first experience with Katy to be pure. Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow holds.

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