Editor's note: Of all the interesting people I have met during my 3 years participating in the Katy Trail Ride, Ann and Fred from Frederick, MD are among the most inspiring. It was a pleasure and inspiration to see a couple so happy to just be bicycling together. This may have been their first multi day group ride, but was certainly not their first long journey together by bicycle. Check out their story about cycling down the Danube River. They are also big fans of the C&O Canal and the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) which will eventually connect with the C&O to provide a 300+ mile greenway from PA to DC.
This past summer we decided we were finally ready
to try a multi day group ride.
|We picked the June 23 –27, KATY Trail ride because it was on a rail/trail, our favorite kind of trail. The 225-mile trail, a state park, follows the corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad from Clinton to St. Charles, MO. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Parks Foundation sponsor this trail ride. It is a popular ride and is limited to about 350 riders.|
| The registration was $210 per person and
included parking at St. Charles or Clinton, breakfasts and dinners for
5 days (except the last day which included lunch instead of dinner) as
well as SAG stops every 10 miles with water, bananas and various other
snacks, gear shuttles to each campground, and campgrounds for each night.
The shuttle and gear transportation before or after the tour was an additional
$40 per person.
We were up at 5 the next morning in order to catch
the 6 AM shuttle back to the Convention Center for breakfast and the start
of the ride. After greetings from various officials, most of the
riders gathered at the trailhead for a group photo and then started north
on the trail. After a little while the pack of riders thinned out
and we all rode along comfortably. The SAG stops were very well stocked
with food and port-a-potties were available at every stop. The first
day’s ride was only about 40 miles to Sedalia. The tent city was
in Liberty Park, a few blocks from the town center. We stayed at
the Hotel Bothwell, a beautifully restored “commercial” hotel from the
era of the railroads in Sedalia. The Bothwell caters to bicyclists
and has special packages and bike storage (www.hotelbothwell.com).
Dinner was in the air-conditioned multipurpose building at the park.
After dinner we were treated to a one-man minstrel show, typical of what
might have been available when Lewis and Clark made their historic journey
|Day 2, Tuesday, also started at 5 with breakfast at 6. The pancake man treated us to pancakes while demonstrating his skill at (accurately) flipping pancakes to individuals all over the room. As I can’t catch, I hid but Fred successfully caught his share and we enjoyed breakfast. The ride Tuesday included a gentle but long, 11-mile uphill grade from Pilot Grove to Booneville.|
|Wednesday morning we skipped the communal breakfast
to enjoy a gourmet breakfast at Yates House. Stuffed and pampered,
we headed onto the trail about 9; well after the tent city crowd was on
their way. By 11 the temperature was again in the 90’s and when we
reached the halfway point at Claysville, I was overheated. We cooled
off drinking lemonade and having lunch in the tiny store/café.
The afternoon was cooler because some showers had moved in as we headed
on to Mokane. The tent city was a couple of miles off the trail (and
uphill) at a school so there were shuttle buses and vans to carry riders
and their bikes up to the school. However, it took a while to get
everything moved so it was about 4 when we checked in. We secured
our bikes, found our luggage and boarded the shuttle to the hotels.
That evening, from our snug hotel room, we watched several bands of severe
thunderstorms move through the area. We were worried about the tenters.
Thursday morning our shuttle bus had to drive along a badly flooded road in order to bring us back to the tent city. There, things were in disarray.
The storms had caught many of the campers unprepared. Most people had soaked gear and flattened tents. It also was very difficult to get the kitchen crew in to the school, as so many roads were flooded so breakfast was running late. Apparently some miscommunication had occurred so that people were not warned to take down their tents and take shelter in the school until it was too late and the storm was already upon them. In the morning, the ride organizers arranged for many people and their gear to be shuttled to the next stop so they could use the laundries to clean and dry their gear. The park service also had to send crews ahead on the trail to check for washouts and remove fallen trees. We had breakfast, mounted our bikes and headed downhill in a cool, misty rain. As the crushed limestone trail surface was now soaked and soft, it was more work to ride and we soon warmed up. There were not many places to buy lunch along this part of the trail so we took advantage of food at the sag stops and rode 52 miles to Marthasville. There we had an excellent lunch at Loretta’s Place. They had a huge buffet lunch all ready for the enormous crowd of bikers. After lunch we had only another 10 miles to ride to Augusta, the town for the final tent city. However, the park for the campground was up another long, steep hill and we could feel the extra weight of our big lunch as we pedaled up.
After dinner we headed further up the hill to
the Legion Park for the final night’s program, awards and bluegrass music.
A father and his two young daughters, who rode a tandem pulling a tag-a-long,
were the stars of the ride. They called themselves the Leapfrog Team
because they would pass everyone and then spend an extra long time at each
SAG stop. Dad’s shirt said “main engine” while the girls wore shirts
saying “turbocharger” and “after burner”. The oldest rider on the
trip was 79 and the youngest, just 4.
|On our final day, we had only about 30 miles to go from Augusta to St. Charles so the ride was leisurely. We enjoyed the scenery and spent more time visiting at the SAG stops as everyone would be heading off once we reached St. Charles. Near Defiance we stopped at a nice bike shop on the trail. The owner has purchased several unique bicycles for handicapped persons and lends them free-of-charge to those who|
We arrived in Frontier Park, downtown St. Charles
just before noon. We checked in and then put our gear and bikes away
before picking up our picnic lunch. We sat in the park along the
Missouri eating our lunch and watching more riders come in while others
said farewell to their new friends. This is a ride I would definitely
do again. If you want to see lots of pictures and read more about
it check out the web site at www.katytrailstatepark.com and click on the
KATY 2003 circle.