In May 2011, two friends and I decided to ride the Katy Trail, a 240-mile former railroad line now converted into a bike path across Missouri. The following account which documents our trip may or may not be true. Facts were either stretched a bit or downplayed, depending on what made for a better story. Other than that, this story is mostly accurate. For certain, all of the people described in this account are ones that we actually met.(Read Day 1 of the trip)
Day Five: Friday, May 13, 2011
Today is Friday the 13th -- an unlucky day to end our ride? We'll see. Other than the single flat Dave had alongside the river on Wednesday, the third day of the trip, we've had not a single mechanical problem and we're all optimistic it'll stay that way.
The rain last night really cooled things off, and we actually had to wear some warm clothes for once. After waking up from the granny beds at the General Store in Peers, Mo., where we spent the night, we wandered downstairs to the store for breakfast. The $50 a night charge came with a free egg sandwich in the morning (and drink of choice from the cooler) and we sure weren't leaving without our yummies. The sandwiches are famous in the area, or so we were told and they actually were good with scrambled egg with cheese and bacon or ham on an English muffin. No cats around while we ate thankfully, but the usual inhabitants of any small town shop - a bunch of old farmers at the next table - sat nearby drinking their coffee and talking about their crops and the weather.
Turns out the egg sandwiches weren't just made for the guests, as we learned from the farmers but also were actually another revenue stream for the owner, made to fill orders from the local area. Various small shops, factories, farms would order them for delivery each morning for employees. I think she showed up at 3am to start the process and have them ready and out the door for delivery by 6:30am or so.
After we settled up for the room and all the chow from the store we ate the night before, we started once again pedaling east. We were glad for the cooler weather and marveled at the change from earlier in the week when it had been so hot. And this was a good thing, too; we weren't sweating near as bad. Something that we were slowly realizing as we headed back toward St. Charles and St. Louis was that most of the trail heads where the Katy Trail crossed through these small towns along the route did not have water where we could replenish our bottles and hydration packs. Since there were no services, either, in many of these little burgs -- no gas stations, convenience stores, etc. -- we had to really watch for water sources and monitor what we were carrying to make sure we didn't run out.
One of the nice things about this stretch of the trip is that we met several sets of really nice people. I guess the isolated nature of the trail through these parts made people more inclined to stop and visit when the opportunity presented itself to chat with other travelers. One pair that we talked to was an older couple from Pennsylvania at Greensbottom trail head. They had ridden the entire trail end-to-end as well, just like us. Maybe being from Missouri it's easy to take the trail for granted but these people sure loved the Katy Trail and could not stop talking about it.
We also talked with two men who were brothers (maybe twins but we were not sure and didn't want to ask) who had spent the night in Marthasville sleeping under a pavilion in the city park to avoid last night's rain. They were heading back home to the St. Louis area and we met them at almost every stop. Both had done the trail several times, including the one that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources puts on each summer.
What's funny is that the closer we got to home, the more difficult the riding got. The last ten or fifteen miles were killer, even though the temperature was nice and the sun truly didn't come out until we got close to our end point at St. Charles. Part of it was that the trail was soft at times from the heavy rain, which made it more of a slog down the path rather than an easy roll. Another aspect that made the going slow was a continuing lack of water points in the small towns along the we. We were sure glad for the chance to stop in Defiance (home of explorer Daniel Boone) for some real drinks, a nice break we agreed from the usual concoction in our water bottles. It was a discussion that took place numerous times: how just how sick and tired we were of water and orange Gatorade. The bar in Defiance where we stopped is typically a biker bar (i.e., motorcycles) but only one Harley rider was there at that early hour. And he didn't want Gatorade either.
Only a few miles to go, and then we pulled into St. Charles, where Bill's dad met us as we rolled in a little after noon. He brought his pick-up so we loaded up the bikes and took a couple pictures, then headed back toward the real world and our normal lives. A final check showed 292 total miles in five days of riding, according to Charles’ odometer, but countless memories and funny stories to carry with us in our heads.
Related story: Many of Missouri's best wineries are along the river and therefore in close proximity to the Katy Trail. You can find wineries in Hermann, Rocheport, Augusta, St. Charles and other towns right along the route.