KATY Trail: The Upshot

Hmmmm… What happened after day one? Here’s the story of my truncated trip:

My plan on day one was to leave Clinton mid-morning and arrive in Sedalia by mid-afternoon. This first night would be the motel night. I had camping planned for two nights and one night in a DNR bunk house.

Here I am at the Clinton Station.

I experienced a smooth ride for much of the first day. I hit a spongy section of trail between B Highway and Green Ridge. This also happens to be the section with the highest point on the trail at 955 feet. You can see the rise, but it’s not much of a grade really — unless the trail is spongy and you’re dragging a trailer. This section got difficult and demoralizing fast. A few questions sprung to mind as I slogged through: How long will this last? Will my knees hold up? Will I die here?

So I was pretty wiped out by the time I reached Sedalia. And I was wondering if I could really finish. Rain had soaked the region for the better part of two weeks, and more was forecast. What if the rest of the trip had large sections of spongy trail.

Day two was scheduled to be the longest of the five at about 60 miles — Sedalia to McBaine. And the 25 miles between Sedlaia and Pilot Grove is the longest stretch without services. Two things went my way: First, the trail was damp but firm. Second, the dreaded sink hole had been “fixed,” so the trail was open. I made it to Pilot Grove in good shape averaging 12 miles per hour.

After lunch I continued on to Boonville where I crossed the Missouri River. I had about 22 more miles to go when the rain hit. I decided to stop for the night in Rocheport at a Bed & Breakfast (Katy Trail Bed & Bikefest). It rained all night.

The next day the DNR warned that sections of the trail east of Rocheport could close at any minute. I decided to call it quits and try again another day. I left the trailer in Rocheport and headed to Columbia — up the fitness trail spur — to be rescued.

The good folks at PedNet in Columbia gave me a place to hang out. I had lunch with Robert Johnson, the PedNet director of consulting services (and frequent commenter on Carbon Trace). That was a fine end to a day that started out rough.

I had about a 16-mile ride ahead of me to get to Columbia — in the rain. That’s not such a big deal. And, without the trailer, really not too bad at all except for flood debris on the trail, including large hunks of wood, standing water, and several large areas of mud up to three inches deep.

I thought it might get better as I got closer to town, but about two miles from downtown I had to pass under a bridge where the creek had flooded the trail.

This wasn’t so bad to get through except that by thisย  point I was really just over the whole thing ๐Ÿ™‚

My wife arrived by mid-afternoon. I had plenty to tell her about what I’d learned and what I’ll do differently next time. Here are a few highlights:

1. I have a lot of experience camping by canoe. So I had a want-it-take-it mentality because, well, in canoe camping if you want it take it. The canoe can handle it. Not so bicycle trailers on chat. I don’t own lightweight camping equipment, and that’s really what you need.

2. Soggy conditions + trailer = pain.

3. Next time: Bed & Breakfasts all the way!

4. Padded saddles are great. And I had a nice squishy one. But I’m used to the Hobson. Next time: a padded Hobson.

5. Plan fewer miles per day — 40 seems about right to me if you’re carrying only personal items.

Video coming soon…

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Comments 6

  1. Keri wrote:

    Sounds pretty similar to the lessons I learned on my first tour ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 22 May 2010 at 10:28 am
  2. alvin wrote:

    I hope was good host;-). He good ask about touring and He good bike set up I think.
    I have noman trial loud up very tuff pull . I know touring bags set alot better than trial but what you like or works for you. You have nice wife come pick you;-).
    Next hope goes better for you;-)

    Posted 22 May 2010 at 12:32 pm
  3. alvin wrote:

    I hope Robert take you to good place eat;-) Their alot places eat and good parking for bikes.

    Posted 22 May 2010 at 12:37 pm
  4. Tracy Wilkins wrote:

    I had a sneaking suspicion something like that was going on. In spite of what a wonderful resource it is, under the wrong circumstances, that trail can really be pretty brutal. Luckily, most of my experiences on it have been delightful, so don’t give up on it based on what you experienced.

    Posted 22 May 2010 at 7:12 pm
  5. Joyce wrote:

    Some stretches of the trail definitely get stickier in wet conditions– My husband and I tried the eastern-most stretch from the Page Bridge to St. Charles on a dry day after rain last year, and we found the lingering stickiness slowed us to something like half our usual pokey pace, with no luggage except lunch. At times we got off and walked. On the other hand, we rode from the Page Bridge west to Augusta on a rainy day, carrying gear for three days (staying in B&B’s), and had no problems.

    In an earlier post you mentioned an interest in using the trail to get around the state, and that interests me too– our rainy trip to Augusta was part of a three-day journey to a CSA farm open-house outside Hermann (the roads outside Hermann were a bit much for us, if we did it again we’d rent a car in Hermann for the last leg), followed by a train trip back to St. Louis. Sometime I’d like to take the trail to the annual Missouri shape-note singing convention in Pinckney as well. Note that for now, it’s not super easy to get between central St. Louis and the Katy Trail. From our home in an inner-ring suburb we took light rail and a city bus to west St. Louis county.

    Posted 01 Jun 2010 at 8:09 am
  6. Andy Cline wrote:

    Joyce… I’ve often wondered about the trail as a transportation route. One could, if one wanted to spend the time and effort, ride from Springfield to Jefferson City. I think that would be cool to do for the MoBikeFed legislative day. But one would have to schedule a lot of time for that.

    One thing is for sure: I have a new appreciation for asphalt ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted 02 Jun 2010 at 11:54 am