The KATY trail is sort of like a 200 mile long, ten foot wide transparent cocoon for cyclists. It's a safety zone where cyclists, walkers and joggers rule, along with the wildlife that can amble about on the trail without fear of sudden death by compaction. It's a great respite from the stresses of non-stop interfacing with the automotive world.
I spent a good night on the porch of Katy's Katfish, at dawn there was more rain falling on the roof. I lazed around for a few hours, made breakfast, listened to the radio trying to figure out what the weather would do. 50 percent chance of rain.
Katy's Katfish in all its glory on a dismal day
the river at Katy's Katfish
Army Corps patrol people at work.......
Rather than stay here, there were other places on the trail 10 and 20 miles down that were supposed to have more in the way of amenities. The rain died to a sporadic sprinkle, I decided to hit the trail.
So did this guy.
I was not sure how the trail would be after a rain, but it is generally well crowned and well drained, the riding is a little slow but not bad. I stop and take in the various L & C historical placards, they are informative and interesting. The party camped in this neck of the woods in early June of 1804. Ran too close to the bank and broke their mast on the limb of a sycamore tree.
In places the trail runs right next to the river, which is running at a high stage because of all the heavy rain storms upstream over the past few days. The river is brown and muddy, with all sorts of floating wooden debris. I think about John McPharlan and his canoe floating along with all that stuff...I clock the current with my bike computer, it's moving at around 7mph along this stretch.
Every once in a while the trail does an abrupt up, over, and down across one of the many levees that my buddy the US Army Corps of Engineers has erected to keep the river from flooding the flood plain during high stages. The people at Katy's Katfish told me the Corps was now experimenting with breeching their own levees so that (wonder of wonders) the river can dissipate energy, water and sediment onto the adjacent flood plains during floods. What a concept, that's what nature designed flood plains for in the first place. I have yet to see any commercial barge traffic on the river. According to the Katfish gathering, the low river levels of the past 5 years or so have killed the industry in favor of the railroads.
The trail goes by a series of constructed wetlands teaming with birds, that are the wastewater treatment facility for the City of Columbia. Looks good, I wonder how they did during the big floods of 1993....
constructed wetlands, city of Columbia
So I'm trucking along in my KATY cocoon, 20 or so miles into the ride, and I'm looking at the map with my sights on Hartsburg. It reportedly has restaurant, grocery store, hotel, and even a bike shop. My stomach rumbles in anticipation of the wonderful meal to be eaten. It was not to be. I roll off the KATY trail into tiny Hartsburg, and the whole thing is closed. It's Tuesday. Everybody closes up shop on Tuesdays. Nothing. Nada. I've pretty much drawn down my on-board supplies, now I'm pretty much forced to make the dreaded run across the river into Jefferson City, another 10 miles down the road.
As I querie local cyclists closer to JC, I hear that it is indeed possible to ride across the river into the city, but they all throw up their hands when I ask about a good restaurant and a grocery store.
I leave the cocoon& take to the BIG road. The US54 bridge is actually two bridges, 3 lanes each.
capital building at Jeff City, from KATY
this is how you get there if you're hungry
The east bound bridge has a good bike lane, the in-bound bridge does not. There was no stopping for photos on the way into town. I took the first off ramp I came to, and shortly found myself & BOB cruising the Missouri State Capital building & environs in a light rain and with raging hunger.
I had to get something to eat. But all I saw were big buildings & people dressed like they had not been riding on the KATY trail in the rain. I did my usual thing, hailed a couple of nicely attired ladies standing on a corner under an umbrella, and asked them where I could get a good meal. They could have taken one look at me and screamed, but they didn't. They spoke briefly to each other, turned to me & said "you look like you could use some pasta, right? Go to Mason's, it's just over on the next block." I told them they had it right, and they did. Mason's is the kind of place where deals are probably done over lunch during the legislative session. Probably part of John Ashcroft's old stomping grounds. Great lasagna and salad, I left revived & ready to deal with whatever the rest of the afternoon threw my way.
After talking with the waiter at Mason's and a few other folks (and having just eaten a big meal), I opted for a semi-convenience store & picked up a few basics, rather than riding miles out of my way to get to a real grocery store. Even though there was light rain falling I wanted to get out of town and back to the trail. There's reportedly a hostel 10 miles downtrail, that's the target.
As I was negotiating one of the major arteries leading to the bridge, my back tire went flat. Did I mention it had started to rain again? Fortunately there's room for me to fool with it and not be in traffic, but it was still sort of like fixing a tire on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. I take the trailer off, take the wheel off, take the tube out, can't find a leak or anything obvious in the tire. I put a new tube in, pump it up, put the whole thing back together & get on with the business of crossing the river and getting back to the cocoon. This time I did snap one shot of the bridge before I crossed.
Back at the KATY trailhead it is now 4PM and raining, but the tire is holding air, and I head down the trail toward the hamlet of Tebbetts. A few miles down the rain slacks off, I begin to relax, I'm back in the safety zone.
At Tebbetts everything was closed. It's Tuesday, remember? This must be a Missouri thing. But there's a neat old gray building with a big sign on it proclaiming it the Turner KATY Trail Shelter. The door is locked, I fire up my cell phone and call a posted number. A lady answers, I explain my circumstance, "of course you're welcome to stay the night, the key is.....".
This building used to be a general store. It now contains bunk beds, showers, bathrooms, microwave, a bicycle repair room, a bunch of loaner bicycles, plus a lot of other interesting stuff. It was donated by Mrs. Turner to enhance the enjoyment of the KATY Trail. It certainly is enhancing my enjoyment of the trail this rainy evening. Thank you Mrs. Turner.