If you managed to make your way through the first Katy Trail post….wait….there’s more!

But first…important announcements!  Glen Woods reports on his and his daughter Cheyenne’s participation in the Route 66 Olumpic Tri.  Congrats to them both and good luck on the June 15th tri in Tulsa.

“Cheyenne and I race the Route 66 sprint tri on Saturday and the Route 66 Olympic on Sunday in El Reno, OK this weekend.  I won the over 40 Clydesdale both days ( I also call it the old fat man award).  Cheyenne placed second in the 15-19 age group on Saturday and 3rd in the 15-19 on Sunday.  She set an Olympic PR and I set both Olympic and sprint PRs this weekend.  We never got a drop of rain.  The weather was great except for the 30 MPH south wind that wreaked havoc on the swim Saturday and just about blew me over because of my race wheels on the bike.”

“Remember the Tulsa Tri is June 15th.”

Thanks for that reminder Glen!

Okay…here’s the second installment. 

Monday, May 19

 

Day 2           Start: Sedalia MM 227                48 Miles on the Katy Trail Map

                   End:  Rocheport MM 179            51.4 Actual Miles logged

 

The continental breakfast at Hotel Bothwell was adequate, and we were on the road at 9 a.m. closely following the Warrensburg group.  Jack, Rebecca and Jane went by the depot and got on the trail, and I chose the shortcut (the route we took when we got lost the previous evening, and the Warrensburg group followed me…silly people).  But it did turn out to be a short cut! 

 

The trail northeast of Sedalia dodges in and out of tree lanes, prairie pastures and fields.  As a consequence, we saw a considerable amount of birds.  Indigo buntings and cardinals are probably the most plentiful birds on the trail. 

The buntings are shy, but they will pace a rider on the trail.  We also saw Baltimore orioles, red winged blackbirds, turkey vultures, several kinds of woodpeckers, and of course, robins and swallows.  The best sighting was a scarlet tanager.  Phlox, asters, daisies, and columbine skirt the trail. 

 

Clifton City MM 215.4 is located 13.6 miles east of Sedalia.  I made it there with a strong tailwind in 45 minutes.  It was a great, brisk morning ride that really got the blood flowing.  There is a trailhead here, and there are restrooms, but there is no water.  It was not hot when we rode, but it would be easy to exhaust several water bottles in a short time on a hot day.  Planning your water stops is important so you don’t get in a bind. 

 

 

We enjoyed the Clifton City trailhead stop with one of our new friends from Warrnesburg.  The trailheads all have complete information about what to expect on the next section of trail regardless of which direction a rider is headed.  They also include local history of the area which you can see on the “depot” walls behind us. 

 

The trailheads and rest stops are close enough that even riders in big groups can ride at their own comfortable pace and still meet up with their fellow riders within minutes at a trailhead or rest area.   This method of travel is very enjoyable because each rider has some time for experiencing the trail in what appears to be isolation.  And as we all know, thinking time on a bike is good for the soul.   Help is usually a cell phone call away if necessary, and coverage is fairly reliable along the trail. In areas with tall bluffs, it can be spotty.  Emergency numbers are available at all trailheads and bikers should be aware and note the numbers.

The trail often takes the rider through blasted rock cuts created by the railroad to help flatten the rail bed.  When entering these areas, the air is always cooler which feels great on a hot day.  Jane is going over the bridge in the distance past this cut. This is a small one east of Clifton City, but steeper, more dramatic ones are closer to Boonville near Lard Hill.  The story on Lard Hill is that in earlier days a Katy train hit some hogs that were on the tracks.  The hog farmer, an older, persistent woman, demanded that the railroad reimburse her for the dead hogs.  The Katy officials refused, stating that she should keep her hogs off the tracks.  She got even by instructing her sons to grease the tracks with lard.  

Often the trail traveler finds remnants of railroad days past.  Here’s a signal left to remind bikers of the original use of the trail.  We also saw railroad ties, concrete bases for other types of rail structures, and of course, bridges and cabooses that have been reconditioned for display.

Stopping on bridges offers surprising and lovely rewards, like this little creek.

The Katy intersects several blacktop highways, farm-to-market roads, gravel roads, private driveways and farm access roads.  Each of these crossings are marked for the safety of all. 

Larger, busier roads are either crossed with underpasses or overpasses, or by large whistle tunnels like this one.  Like the big kids we are, we all tried “tooting” our vocal train horns when we rode through these echo chambers. 

 

Our lunch spot this day a great find. We knew the Warrensburg group was ahead of us so we looked for their bikes when we got to Pilot Grove, MM 203.   There they were at Becky’s Burgers and Cones. 

 

This was a terrific stop.  It’s a family-owned, small town restaurant just a block north of the trail. The locals appear to love this place.  We even met the mayor picking up his lunch.  He was very friendly and thanked us for stopping at Pilot Grove.   Most of Pilot Grove was dining inside, but Becky has wisely placed picnic tables outside on a lovely outside front porch for the more fragrant biker types.  I had the daily special, served on a blue plate which included that wilted lettuce I had been dreaming about at Camp Branch.  The greens were fresh out of the restaurant owner’s garden that morning.  Take that Chez Panisse!  And to top it off, Rebecca and I had a piece of the strawberry ice cream pie. 

Jane was the taste tester to be sure it was a quality product. 

 

We all decided that a weight loss program is not compatible with riding the Katy Trail.  The food is just too darn good.  We had many good meals on the trail, but several days we opted to have a “lunch” of trail mix, fruit or other energy snacks.  Eating a big meal at lunch and then cycling can be hard on the digestive track.  Plus we were able to justify those glorious dinners we consumed at the end of every day.  At the end of our journey, we also all agreed that we didn’t really want to see anything that looked like trail mix for awhile. 

 

It also takes more energy to pedal a fully loaded bike.  We all had to get used to juggling items around in our bags to properly balance the bike, and even then, it took some getting used to riding a bike with the extra pounds attached.  I would really recommend a “practice run” with a fully loaded bike before beginning a long trek anywhere.

 

Before we left Pilot Grove, we met one contingency of the Elderhostel group, which consisted of 23 riders and two tour guides, who were also on the trail.  Tour operators and organized group rides are fairly common on the trail during the less hot months of May and June and September.  It’s fun to visit with these folks both on and off the trail.  The Elderhostel group would come to our rescue two days later. 

 

The Katy overpass on Interstate 70 west of Boonville makes for an interesting stop.  Jane grabbed my camera and held me ransom on the bridge with the Boonville water tower in the far background.

 

The Katy passes over I-70 here, under I-70 near Rocheport and again under I-70 at St. Charles.

 

Bikers can take a bathroom break at Prairie Lick MM 197, but there is no water at this stop.

 

A substantial grade takes riders the final five miles into Boonville.  After continuous pedaling for two days, we were all surprised that we coasted for almost two miles as we entered town.  The local walkers and joggers seem to like to go uphill and west from the Boonville trailhead.  We met a walker at the trailhead who had moved to Boonville from Texas six months previously with her husband to be close to the trail.  She says they love it there. 

 

Boonville MM 192 is a fun, historic river town with many structures on the National Register of Historic Places and exploration possibilities.  The Chamber of Commerce and a MKT caboose are right on the trail.   If you have loose change, stop at the Isle of Capri Casino that is conveniently located on the trail, and their slot machines will be happy to take your donations.  The trail takes you directly to the downtown business district.

 

The Warrensburg group stayed at the Frederick Hotel which is located at the north end of the bridge on the east side of Main Street. It has recently been restored and they said it was very reasonable, the rooms were comfy and the complementary breakfast was excellent.  Most accommodations along the trail are happy to secure your bikes at night, and The Frederick is no exception. 

 

 

Riders cross from the south side to the north side of the Missouri River on a special bike/pedestrian lane on the Missouri State Highway 5 bridge. 

 

Jane crosses the Missouri River at Boonville.

 

Franklin MM 187 and New Franklin MM 188 are the next stops on the Katy.  Interpretive areas are located all along the trail.  Franklin was important to Lewis & Clark on their Corp of Discovery.  Since the Corp of Discovery Bicentennial in 2004, much has been added to the Katy Trail to make it much for meaningful for trail users. New Franklin housed the roundhouse for the Katy.  The foundation and some of the structure are still apparent to the rider who stops to take a look.  New Franklin was also part of the Santa Fe Trail and the Boonslick trail.  And of course, it is the birthplace of “Jelly” Settles, who wrote “The Missouri Waltz,” a favorite of all Missourians and definitely Mizzou Fans. 

One of the most photographed structures on the trail is the famous Rocheport tunnel, which was built in 1893.  It was featured in a Stephen King movie, Sometimes They Come Back.  It is the longest tunnel on the trail and really fun to ride through. 

Jane exits on the east side of the Rocheport Tunnel.

 

Immediately after exiting the tunnel, bikers ride over the Moniteau Creek bridge.  The Moniteau bluffs and the Creek are described in detail in the journals of the Corp of Discovery.  Here they found “several curious paintings and carvings in the projecting rock of limestone inlaid with white and red and blue flint,” evidence of the sacred nature of the area to the early Native Americans.  Petroglyphs can be found in several places along the trail. 

 

Rocheport MM 179 is a delightfully restored river town and has been partially inundated several times but continues to thrive.  Several great B&Bs provide top drawer accommodations.  And the Trailside Café offers bikers necessary equipment, repairs, air and food.  As it was near the end of the school year, some Callaway County school students had a day on the trail, renting bikes and enjoying the scenery the day. This is the busiest part of the trail.

 

We stayed with Mike and Lisa Friedemann, who moved to Rocheport in 2002 from Tulsa when they purchased The Schoolhouse Inn.  In 1912, it was a four-room schoolhouse.  Today, it is a wonderfully restored 10-room B&B that has been voted “Best Missouri B&B” for four years running.  They also have a facility called the Dormitory for bikers who want a comfy place to stay but don’t require the B&B frills.  Our bikes spent the night in a secured bike storage area, we slept like logs and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast before our next day.

 

For dinner in Rocheport, I did manage to get everyone back on the bikes to head up a hill to visit Le Bourgeois Bistro and Winery.  The Bistro, which is an excellent moderately priced restaurant, is closed on Monday, but the Winegarten was open.  We had delicious panini sandwiches, terrific wine, entertaining stories from Jack, and an unbelievable view of the Missouri River valley high atop the north bluff.  We really didn’t want to leave, but the sun was setting and we still had to coast down the hill.  A very nice young couple from Nebraska took this photo for us. 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 20

Day 3           Start: Rocheport MM 179              36  Miles on the Katy Map                      End:  North Jefferson MM 143          39.3 Actual Miles logged

 

We began our day with a great breakfast of baked omelettes and fresh fruit, homemade muffins at The Schoolhouse Inn.  After purchasing some provisions at the Trailside Café and Bike shop and airing up tires, we started out on what most riders believe is the most beautiful part of the trail.  Likewise, it receives the most use, so you can always expect company.  The railroad was constructed close to the river in this stretch and right next to the high bluffs, so the views can be stunning.  Lots of benches along the way invite walkers and bikers to sit, relax and enjoy the view of the Mighty Mo.  There’s also lots to stop and see on this stretch of the trail, so expect to make a few stops and detours.  I took my time, took some photos and had a great day.

 

 

Rebecca enjoyed the view outside of Rocheport.

 

At MM 174.4, we saw some petroglyphs and a cave with a spring where Lewis and Clark camped on their way up the river. 

 

Huntsdale MM 171.7 has no water or restrooms but is a cute little settlement.

 

Just west of McBaine, before crossing over the Perche Creek bridge, the MKT Fitness Trail takes off to the north toward Columbia.  The trail intersection is marketed by the typical Katy Trail depot rest stop.  This eight-mile trail takes riders to downtown Columbia and the University of Missouri Campus.  It’s a great trail, and many bikers choose to stay in Columbia and visit before heading further on the trail.

   

A short 2.2 miles east is McBaine MM 169, where taking a short side route to the right (south) of the trail leads riders to the Champion Great Burr Oak.  Arborists believe it is at least 350 years old.  It’s amazing to see a tree that was present long before Lewis and Clark came up the river.                  

 

Because the water and the bluffs present great habitat for all sorts of animals, riders are liable to see just about anything.  Jane almost hit a wayward squirrel on this portion of the trail. The next day she saw a river otter.  Swallows were swarming a big nesting site near the I-70 underpass near Rocheport.  

And Rebecca and I found this critter.  Sure looks like a copperhead to me.  We quietly moved around it and respected its space.  We saw five snakes on the entire trail, but they can be more are numerous, seeking either sunny spots on cool days or shade on hot days.  Riders should always look ahead for sticks that may be snakes.  Rebecca accidently thought a black snake was a stick.  Oops….she didn’t mean to run over it. 

 

 

 

Roche Perche MM 166.9 (Pierced Rock) was mentioned by earlier explorers and Lewis and Clark.  This natural bridge is located high on the bluff, but an interpretive marker helps point it out for riders and hikers.  It is difficult to photograph.

Providence MM 165 has no water available.  Another fun little river settlement, though.

 

Easley MM 162 offers the Easley Store and nearby BoatHenge.  It is tucked behind a fence on the left of the trail before crossing the Little Bonne Femme Creek bridge. I coaxed Jack and Rebecca to join the flamingo for a photo. 

 

I stopped to talk to two women from Nebraska on the bridge and take their picture.  They were enjoying a “girls away biking vacation.”  Turns out one of them knew Roger’s cousin who lives in Lincoln.  Small world! 

 

Wilton MM 157.4 has a store, but every time I go by, it looks closed.  The sign outside says “Stay in a tipi.”  Sounds like fun, but I didn’t see any. 

 

Our plan was to eat lunch in Hartsburg MM 153.6.  But Dotty’s Café, a Hartsburg favorite, is closed on Monday and Tuesday, as was the Summit Hill Winery.  Rather than succumbing to a great depression over the fact that the winery was closed, we borrowed the picnic tables in front of Dotty’s and downed some trail mix, bananas, water and called it good.  We vowed to make up for the trail mix luncheon at dinner.   The trailhead at Hartsburg has both water and restrooms.

 

I was dawdling and taking pictures east of Hartsburg when I saw Jack coming toward me.  He had left quickly from Hartsburg and I was surprised to see him backtracking.  But he was returning for a very important reason. He had forgotten his “chamois butter” on the bench at the rest stop.  And that is something you just can’t leave behind (pardon the pun).

 

The rest of the trail from Rocheport on to St. Charles is very flat with very little grade.  Constant pedaling is required, but it is easy pedaling.  Occasionally, bikers have to pedal over one of the earthen river dikes used to try to control floodwaters.  The dikes provide a nice break and at least 20 yards of coasting. 

 

Claysville MM 149.8 supposedly has a store that is open on the weekends.  We didn’t see any signs of life when we through.

 

North Jefferson MM 143.2 is a short 6.6 miles from Claysville.  The North Jefferson trailhead has restrooms, water and a very sizeable parking area that is used by locals to access the trail. 

 

It also has a very nice “depot” with restrooms and water where we rested while waiting for our shuttle.

 

The closest accommodations on the north side of the river are in Holts Summit, up a big hill.  So we chose to stay at the Cliff Manor B&B which is located just blocks from the Capitol in Jefferson City right on the river.  To get to Jefferson City from the trail, one has to cross the Missouri River Highway 54 bridge. Riding across the Missouri River bridge on Highway 54 is, in my opinion, NOT an option.  This bridge experiences heavy traffic, and I wouldn’t risk getting thrown off the bridge or getting hit.  A bike lane does exist on the northbound lane, which means if you ride it into Jefferson City, you are facing the 65 mph traffic traveling only a few feet away.  Our B&B provides shuttle service for riders who stay there.  I’ve heard that a cab company will also provide shuttle service to Jefferson City hotels. 

 

The accommodations were really clean and pleasant…we had porches overlooking the river, Jacuzzis and a wonderful breakfast the next day.  However, Rebecca’s “bed” was a foldout that really shouldn’t have qualified for a bed.  Our host, Thom, did wash, fill and freeze our water bottles so that we had cold drinks the next day, and he secured our bikes for us that night.  Both gestures were most appreciated.

 

For dinner, we were in luck.  Paddy Malone’s is right around the corner.  Established in 1870, it’s a Jeff City icon and the oldest continuous business in Jeff.  We replenished our precious bodily fluids in the typical Irish manner and enjoyed typical Irish fare.  Jack commented on the bonnie lass who served as our waitress.  Jane, Rebecca and I preferred Paddy’s dog who is the pub’s official mascot.  We highly recommend some fish and chips or bangers and mash at Paddy’s.  And, of course, the Guinness wasn’t bad either!

 

After dinner Rebecca and I walked three blocks to the State Capitol.  Although the Capitol was closed, it contains the State Historical Museum and famous Thomas Hart Benton murals.  The Veteran’s Memorial is located on the river side of the Capitol grounds and is quite nice.  St. Peters is located west of the Capitol and provides a nice red brick contrast to the white limestone of the Capitol. And since we were riding the Katy Trail, we went down to Rotary Centennial Park on Bolivar Street where the first bridge that crossed the Missouri at Jefferson City was located.  It’s the best place in town to watch the trains.  This is a very nice, small park and several people were enjoying the evening as well. 

 

In a self-supported ride, doing laundry is inevitable.  A rider can only wear bike shorts so long before life becomes intolerable for the rider and for the riding partners.  Our lodging provided some great places to hang clothes after we did some sink laundry.  Rebecca strung together several bungee cords and made a great clothesline.  The only injury Jane suffered during the trip was banging her shin against the corner of the Jacuzzi while attempting to find a drying spot for her jersey.

 

Stay tuned for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s adventures……

 

 

 

 

 

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