Monday, July 14, 2014

Tour of Missouri: The Katy Trail State Park

Our third ride on The Katy Trail took us back to where we actually started: Sedalia, MO.  We have previously completed a 35.6 mile ride from Sedalia, MO to Clinton, MO and a 22.3  mile ride from Booneville, MO to McBaine, MO. Since we skipped the 37.2 mile stretch from Sedalia to Booneville. 

In planning for this ride, water and the temperature were two main concern. We would be visiting four total trail-head: Sedalia, Clifton City, Pilot Grove, and Booneville, MO. Each leg was approximately 12 miles apart and there would be no access to water at Clifton City and the temperature was projected to be 92 degrees. 

We got an early start; well as early as you can get when you have to drive an hour and half to get to the trail-head. We biked the city streets until we found the trail. The streets were marked with a bike path clearly marked for the Katy. 

The elevation was in our favor departing Sedalia and heading East. We dropped 180 feet in 13.6 miles. Unfortunately, before we could get 5 miles into the ride, we had our first ever flat tire.  Flat tires were one of the concerns The Husband had so we were plenty prepared for a flat. What we were not prepared for was the snapping in half of the tools needed to change a bike tire.

So, with a tire that leaked air and no tools, our friend Mike had no choice but to turn around and walk back to Sedalia to the nearest bike shop. Thankfully, Mike is from this area and he had a host of relatives to call and he was able to get a ride back.

Mike's tire was not the only thing that challenged us on our first leg. Just west of the Trail Head I noticed that my water bottle kept rubbing against my leg. My water bottle cage lost a screw. Thankfully the screw had not worked it's way to the ground and The Husband was able to quickly fix the water bottle cage.

Our car support, my Mother and Brother, drove Mike out to Clifton City as they drove our vehicle to Booneville. The Husband and I made it to Clifton City in great time and because we were waiting on Mike to hook back up with us we had an hour to rest before taking off again.  The bonus to the flat tire is that Mike was able to bring us extra water and I got to see The Short Chic again.

We passed over the Laramie River using a tressett bridge we have become familiar with on The Katy Trail.

If the elevation was in our favor from Sedalia, MO to Clifton City, the exact opposite is true of the leg from Clifton City to Pilot Grove were the elevation raises 90 feet in 12.1 miles.  It was a challenging ride as most of it was going up.

Passing this old signal provided us an opportunity to stop for a breath. It also brought me the first encounter, but not the only one with frogs.  There were lots of frogs in the cement square next to the signal. As the day continued I would encounter other frogs.  I also encountered squirrels and even a deer.  A deer jumped onto the trail right in front of me!

Besides a few bridges we also passed through a few tunnels.  The tunnels were a brief, welcome relief from the heat.

Two hours and one minute after we left Clifton City, we made it to Pilot Grove, MO. We were hot and hungry. Our original plan was to eat lunch at Becky's Burgers and Ice Cream but when we got into town we learned that Becky's closed at 1:30 (we were one minute past the close time). We sped up to Becky's to see if we could obtain sandwiches to eat on the porch but the owner was so nice and stayed open just for us.  We ate Chicken Salad Sandwiches with cold cucumber and onion salad and drank ice tea in an air conditioned restaurant.  Becky's even filled up our water bottles, which were all empty following our stretch without water.

We left the Pilot Grove Trail Head shortly before 2:30 p.m. We had 11.5 miles to go to our destination and the elevation chart showed we would be decreasing elevator 220 feet. The Husband noticed the sign posted at the trail head that said riders felt the track between Pilot Grove and Booneville is the most challenging of the entire trail.

Given the fact that we had just spent the past two hours biking up we wondered how in the world the next leg could be worse than the one we had just completed.

Leaving Pilot Grove we expected downward inclines but what we found were mostly flat trails. The rock was larger in parts. But for the most part, we were left wondering why this was considered the hardest section of the trail.

Passing over I-70 was a happy point of this section. This is the most visible part of the Katy Trail. I have passed under this bridge many of times as I have traveled here and there. It was an accomplishment to cross over the interstate on the trail.

Four miles west of Booneville, the heat caught up to me. I started having cold chills. I could not catch my breath, nor make my body work any longer. We had to a long break while The Husband kept pouring water on my head, neck and shoulders.

It took a while but I cooled down enough to keep going. We passed one last tunnel about three miles from the trail head and the decline we had been expecting the entire section came. The final three miles of this leg went by in a blur of downhill fun. I easily put the bike in third gear and found speeds close to 20 mph.

The Husband wears a sports watch. He keeps track of statistics. He says we averaged 6 mph in the first hour of our first ride. 9 mph during the first hour of our second ride and we managed to shave another hour off our third trip.

Other fun statistics: we biked a total of 37.2 miles this ride.  We have completed a total of 95.1 miles on The Katy Trail since Memorial Day Weekend. I have completed 134 Missouri Miles this year.

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