Sunday, October 14, 2018

Katy Trail Adventure

We like a good challenge, so when we heard about the Katy Trail, it was immediately added to our list of potential bikepacking adventures. We live in Oregon and I work for a school district, meaning that travel times are limited and it would take some doing to get out there. We also knew that doing the trail between June and August was not an option because we are not accustomed to the humidity.

In our 50s, we decided that we only have so many September/Octobers left in life, so decided to tackle the trail this year. We had so much fun on our Weiser River Trail ride in Idaho this past May, that we decided to go for it, bought our Amtrak tickets (while still on the trail!) and started planning our journey. 

We knew that we wanted to keep our costs low and the best way to do that was to stay out of hotels and restaurants. That's not to say that we didn't eat out or that we didn't enjoy a bed along the way...but we did try to focus on being self sufficient and enjoy the people and places along the way. But, avoiding those hotels and restaurants also means gear. Fully loaded, we figure that we were carrying between 15-20 pounds on our bikes, which included spare tubes, tools, camping gear, clothes, food for the week, and various other items. Being ultra lightweight backpackers (but not minimalists), we are careful about what we bring and I'm pleased to say that we used everything we brought with the exception of tools and spare tubes. 

We do not have a "need for speed" and we approach our trips as an opportunity to learn about local history, visit museums, enjoy local beverages, and so forth, which all requires that you know the times that places are open and adjust your riding schedule accordingly. We also know that all trips require extra off trail riding, so what is planned as a 35-40 mile day generally becomes a 40-50 mile day and that we need a day to rest, do laundry, and so forth about every three days.

In our initial research, we were somewhat dismayed to find that the information on the Katy Trail web site to be fairly outdated and the reports regarding camping left us a little worried. But having learned from our Weiser River Trail ride that little towns are friendly, generally have parks, and if you figure out who to ask, you will find that there are nice places to camp out along the way.

The following posts outline our trip, including where we stayed and how we were able to ride the trail one-way without the use of a shuttle. 

Happy trails!

Elroy Sparta Adventure

After our wonderful bike ride along the Katy Trail, we returned back to Chicago to visit family. Therese's Mom decided that a great way to end our trip would be to treat us to stay two nights overnight up in Wisconsin so that we could ride the Elroy Sparta Trail.

The reservation was made, and we were all set to stay in an Airbnb in Wilton, Wisconsin. About five weeks prior to our arrival, there was a torrential downpour, and severe damage to the trail. Although we still had the Airbnb, we weren't sure that we would get to ride the Elroy Sparta Trail. But in late September, they opened part of the trail so that people could participate in the National Ride Your Parks Day. This was wonderful news, because many years ago Therese had ridden the Elroy Sparta Trail on her first overnight solo. She was excited to revisit the trail she had ridden in the mid 1980s!

We headed north on a Tuesday, October 9, 2018 and arrived sometime after 3pm. The Airbnb in Wilton was exceptional!

Our host left us many little treats!
The place was beautiful and decorated for fall.
We slept up in the loft; watch your head! Notice the re-used barn wood.
Beautiful spiral staircase with cherry risers.
The skies were gray, but with no rain in sight, we requested a ride to the Norwalk trailhead. We agreed to meet up with Therese's parents around 6pm  in Sparta for the shuttle ride back to Wilton.

We had a great time riding the trail and were excited to ride through the tunnel. Except that the sign said, "walk your bikes." There was no one else out riding and walking our bikes 3/4 of a mile in a creepy, pitch black tunnel was not all that appealing, so we hopped on and pedaled through.

Around 4:45pm, a CRAZY storm hit us. We were caught in a torrential downpour complete with thunder and lightening. It hit so fast, we didn't have time to get into our rain gear...we headed for cover at a nearby farmhouse, but no one was home, so we stood dripping wet under a cluster of trees while calling Therese's parents to rescue us. They picked us up around 5:15pm; we were happy to be out of the storm.
Fortunately, we had an emergency blanket to wrap T in because she got chilled pretty quickly.
When we arrived back at the house, our host had left us a welcome email, complete with apologies about the weather and directions for what to do should we hear the sirens go off at the fire station regarding a potential tornado (get in the basement!).

We had a great night, and woke up the next morning to a forecast of somewhat clear skies. Around 10am, we loaded up our bikes and were dropped off at the point where we had stopped the night before so that we could complete the remainder of the Elroy Sparta Trail.

It was a great ride and was followed by stops at the Visitor Center and Bicycle Museum. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Maps & GPS

Maps, oh how I love thee!

I'm a confirmed map junkie. I love setting up my maps before the trip and enjoy archiving the final trip routes. And I take advantage of the data that others have posted online. For example, I imported the kml/kmz file containing drinking water and bathroom stops along the Katy Trail before our ride. 

Over the years, I've used various GPS devices and iPhones. Currently, I am using a Pixel 2, which I mainly use in airplane mode when bike/backpacking so that I don't have to worry about charging my phone during the day.

Apps: My Maps, Gaia GPS & Google Maps

Because I like Gaia GPS and My Maps for slightly different reasons, I export/import data as needed between the two apps and generally go back and forth between them during my adventures.

My Maps (
For my initial trip planning, I create a custom map, populate it with a potential list of places we might visit, add notes regarding costs and hours, and customize the icons by type (e.g, water, campsite, museum). I like that I can have multiple layers, share with friends and family,  open a location in Google Maps for routing purposes during my trip, and most importantly, use it offline. Note that there is a limited number of layers.

Gaia GPS
My primary uses of this app are for knowing what's coming up (e.g, water, campsite) and tracking my whereabouts. I like having a log of where I have been, start and stop times, average moving speed, etc. to look back upon at the end of each day. So, when it's time to hit the trail, I start a new track, which is color coded and overlaid on the map.

Features I like:
  • Ability to select and download the map data (maps and coordinates) for your trip;
  • Multiple map options (e.g, topo, street) and sources;
  • Ability to easily import/export data;
  • You can add photos along the way that show up in your route as you take them;
  • Maps can easily be shared through social media; and
  • Print your own maps (this requires a subscription, which I generally turn on when planning for backpacking trips).
Features I don't like:
  • The online interface is not intuitive and frustrating to use. 
  • If you take photos within Gaia, they are trapped there. If you want copies, you have to download them one at a time. Hopefully this will change, but for now, I've stopped using the in-app camera feature, which is kind of a bummer because it is cool to view your pics where they were taken along the course of your trip.
Note that Gaia doesn't like to be in battery saving mode; but by having your phone in airplane mode, you will be able to conserve power.

Google Maps
Before leaving home, I use the offline maps feature of Google Maps to select rectangular regions and download the desired maps and associated data. It is great for navigating offline, because it is fast. However, at this time, bicycle routing is not available offline. Note that the maps will take up space on your device, but eventually expire and are removed unless you intervene.

Friday, October 12, 2018


This is a pretty easy section to! When we started backpacking, we decided there and then that we would be selecting really satisfying food that tasted great and was light weight. Seriously, we got a little crazy with repackaging things to save weight (we saved about 6 ounces just by repackaging).

Freeze Dried vs Dehydrated

Freeze dried food has almost all of the water removed and tastes exactly like it did when it was fresh. It doesn't require preservatives and is the lightest way to go. Dehydrated food doesn't have as much of the water removed, so it is heavier, and will not taste exactly as it did when it was fresh. When you buy either type, you should read the label carefully so that you know what you are getting in terms of preservatives/additives.

Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables often gets overlooked on bike/backpacking trips because fresh things don't keep. On our bikes, we would stop by small stores to pick up fruit/veggies in addition to some of the freeze dried items we brought along. But backpacking is another story all together.

Tip: When you buy freeze dried food, you might be shocked when you weigh out an actual serving size. It's not that big because it hasn't been re-hydrated...we have found that for outdoor adventures, we double the serving size of fruits/veggies.

Costco for Fruits & Veggies: Our very favorite fruit and veggies come from Costco. We keep a good selection of these on hand in the event of an emergency, which is nice because when it is time for a trip, we just go out to the emergency stock and pick out what we want to take along. I've included the Costco item number because I know that these are excellent products.
  • Freeze-Dried Fruit Variety Bucket 300 Servings, Item #555340
  • Freeze-Dried Vegetable Variety Food Bucket 320 Servings, Item #555338
Tip: Put a little bit of freeze dried fruit into a sealed container (like the GSI Backpacker Mugs that we use) after breakfast for a nice mid-morning fruit break. The extra water is great tasting fruit juice: adjust the amount of water based on how much you want to drink.

Mountain House Meals: We have tried various meals, but have settled on Mountain House as our brand of choice. Every meal has been consistently good. Sometimes we eat our freeze dried veggies on the side, while other times, we mix them right into the meal.

One of the meals that we were not able to find locally is the Grilled Chicken Breast and Mashed Potatoes (ebay has the best prices), which we pair with green beans. Seriously, the chicken breast is so good that I'd serve it at home to guests. Do follow the cook time directions for the chicken breast; if you let it sit too long in the hot water, it will fall apart when you pull it out of the "cooking" bag.

Here are some of the other meals we've enjoyed:
  • Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
  • Chili Mac with Beef; we add freeze dried corn.
  • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce; we add freeze dried green beans.
  • Lasagna with Meat Sauce
  • Rice and Chicken (the order of the words in the title says a in not a lot of chicken); we add freeze dried cauliflower.
  • Biscuits and Gravy
  • Granola and Blueberries
  • Breakfast Skillet
  • Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
  • Scrambled Eggs with Ham, Red & Green Peppers
It is pretty tasty to add freeze dried potatoes to the breakfast meals...note that the potatoes need a lot of soaking time (a couple of hours).

Quaker Oatmeal: On the bikepacking trip, we did take these...a low cost breakfast option. But as the person who carried the food, I'll just say that I'm going to skip this next time. Too heavy and too sticky to clean up.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sleep System: Covers, Pad & Pillow

When we say "sleep system" we are talking about what it takes for us to sleep at night. In the old days, you'd probably say a sleeping bag and, if you were lucky, some kind of pad. After lots of research for our backpacking adventures, I ended up with a quilt and a Therm-a-Rest pad, both of which I love.

Enlightened Revelation Quilt: If you haven't heard of using a quilt for camping, the theory is that sleeping on top of down crushes it and basically ruins its ability to keep you warm. With a quilt, you are carrying about 75% of the material, so you save weight. I'll get extra geeky here...this weighs in at 18.46 ounces for the options I selected. I love that it is extra soft and luxurious, it has two bands to slip around a sleeping pad to hold it in place, and you can snug up the bottom if your feet are cold. There isn't anything that I do not like about it.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad: This pad is so comfortable that after I got home from a week of sleeping on it, I had to buy a new mattress. It is super light (12 ounces); at first it is a little on the crinkly sounding side, but with use, it is just fine.

Pillow: I really couldn't find a pillow option that I liked and didn't want to spend an arm and a leg. So for a while, I used this great stuffed frog that I found at Target in the baby section. It was a little heavy (6.72 ounces), but it was so very comfy and soft when you laid your face on it.

About a year ago, I started using a Bliss Pillow (made in Bend, Oregon and filled with millet hulls) at home. It's a tiny little thing, but so very comfortable for the neck, back, and head. And then about a month ago or so, we received a Sierra Designs DriDown pillow (4.4 ounces, including the stuff sack) in our Cairn box. It's about the same size as my Bliss Pillow, so I thought I'd give it a try on our Katy Trail backpacking trip. It worked out quite well and I'm sorry to say that the old frog will get left behind on the next trip.

Stove, Dishes & Utensils

Primus Eta Express Stove: When we started looking for stoves, we wanted something that would work well in the wind. After reading the reviews, we settled on the Primus Eta Express Stove. We've used this now for several years and have had nothing but great experiences. The pot holds just over four cups of water and boils (as advertised) in just over two minutes. Every time. I believe the reason for this is because of the amazing windshield and how the heat is transferred to the specialized pot.

When camping with friends, this stove always outperforms and in fact we generally end up boiling the first coffee water for everyone. In addition to being fast, it is fuel efficient. On a five night backpacking trip our daily use consisted of boiling water for coffee (2 x day), dishes (2 x day), cooking breakfast and dinner. We still had about a third of canister of fuel left.

We paid just over $40 for the stove (found it on clearance on REI for about $80 and then applied our annual rewards). This stove has been upgraded to a new version, although we don't know how it could be made better!

Dishes: We use the pot and bowl that came with the stove. This has been sufficient for our travels. Sometimes, as a splurge, we just cut down a large yogurt container to bowl size.. Lightweight and durable.

Coffee Cups: GSI Backpacker Mug! This thing is amazing. Things we have done with this mug:

  • Rehydrating freeze dried fruit. We just put a little fruit and water in it, seal it up and put it in our backpack pockets for a mid-morning snack. Great fruit and terrific fruit juice.
  • Coffee. This sounds obvious, but it is great for drinking coffee on my bike! I just put the coffee in the cup and hang it on my handlebar until I'm read for a sip. 
  • Measuring Cup: We mark off measurements for .5, 1, 1.5 and 2 cups for our freeze dried dinner prep.
  • Bowl: Sometimes we do want an extra bowl for our meals.
Silverware: REI Co-op Campware Long Spoon and Spork. I use the spoon and LOVE the long handle for cooking. The spoon is great for everything except the freeze dried chicken breast that we like to have for dinner. Therese likes her spork, but I find it cumbersome to use.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bike Accessories

TaoTronics Phone Mount: The most important bike accessory that I own is my phone mount. I've had several of them over the years, but really like my current TaoTronics mount because it just grips the phone so well and it can be used with various phones.
My phone has never come loose, regardless of the the trail conditions. It does have some extra little rubber band things for additional security, but like the reviews I read before buying it, I found that they are not really needed. The Weiser River Trail was so bumpy that I thought I should use them, however, one of them snapped part way through the trip and I didn't notice a difference in how 

Cupholder, Horn/Light, Phone Mount
Huffy Bicycle Beverage Holder & Bell Combo Kit: I picked this up on clearance for about $5 before our Weiser River Trail trip. We figured that since Idaho is an open container state, it would be fun to buy a beer one day at the end of our ride and carry it back to camp on our bikes. However, this has been used mostly for cold sodas!

Things to keep in mind:
  • The screws tend to rattle loose, so you have to keep an eye on them and make sure they are tight.
  • If the bottle is too small, it rattles around and drives me crazy! When this happens, I just tuck my bandanna or a paper towel in there and the problem is resolved.
  • The bell is heavy (so heavy that I have never even considered using it).
Orp Light/Horn: This was a luxury purchase a few years ago when it was on Kickstarter and is described as a "dual-decibel bike horn and front beacon light." I like the idea of this device, but it hasn't been 100% for me. Here are my experiences...
  • Horn: I like that it has two different sounds. One gentle when you just need to pass someone and the other abrasive to get someone's attention. 
  • Rechargeable: LOVE that it doesn't have batteries.
  • Fit: It isn't a tight fit on my handlebars, so if I am lazy when I put it back on after charging, it is hard to operate the horn because it slips around. It comes with a little rubber sleeve that you can use so that it fits nice and snug. It only slips when I'm lazy. :-)
  • Brightness: This light is great for letting a car know you are there (it has that annoying but effective blinking feature), but it isn't really helpful for night or tunnel riding. We rode through the 3/4 mile Elroy-Sparta tunnel this week and it just didn't cut it. In fact, I really had to depend on Therese and her light to illuminate the way. 
Huffy Handlebar Cooler Bag with Smartphone Pocket: Another $5 clearance find. What I like:
  • The phone pocket is great for my route notes; 
  • Love the side mesh pockets for easy access to Wet Ones and Halt Dog Spray; and
  • It's insulated so my various snacks don't get melty.
What could be better: the velcro/buckles on this bag are a little substandard, but for $5, what can you expect?

Power: Anker PowerCore

On past backpacking trips, I have been able to charge my phone using my Anker 15W Dual USB Solar Charger, which I just attached to my backpack during the day.

This past Christmas, my nephew gave me this awesome Anker PowerCore 20100 (model A1271) battery, which is way too heavy for backpacking, but for road or bike trips, it's pretty great. We tested it out at home and were able to charge our phones for three days (iPhone and Pixel 2). Note that you have to have a power block to plug only comes with a USB cable for charging.

This was my "luxury item" on the Katy Trail bikebacking trip and it worked like a charm. Note that it was propped up pretty precariously at one of the picnic shelters and took a dive, but aside from a few scratches, it is working perfectly.

Two phones can be charged simultaneously.


We both ride Dahon 7-speed folding bikes. Even though these are "small wheels" we have found that standard panniers work with them.

In this photo, you see Therese with her panniers with a blue pack on top. This summer, we received this blue Cotopaxi day pack in our Cairn box. We thought we might use it for an off bike excursion, but this never happened. What it was great for was for carrying the tent, trekking poles, jackets and misc items we wanted quick access to during the day. Yes, we could just strap the tent and poles on top, but it was really nice to have a very lightweight catch all.

As for her panniers, they are made by Topeak and are actually dry bags. In general, they held a pillow, quilt, air mattress, off bike clothes, second set of bike clothes, jacket, hat, bath items and mini towel.

I used the ArcEnCiel panniers and really liked them because I was able to leave the two side bags (which are a single unit) attached to my bike the entire trip. They held my pillow, quilt, air mattress, off bike clothes, second set of bike clothes, jacket, hat, battery, bath items/towel.

The bag on top had four buckles that were quick and easy to undo and also doubled as a way to attach my spare shoes. The top bag was really roomy and held our stove and food for five nights of camping. There was also a strap that I could attach to the top bag; although it was bit clunky, I was actually able to carry the whole setup over my shoulder. This was really helpful when boarding the train.

My bags are water resistant and did come with a cover, but it would be unwieldy to ride with them covered on this particular bike. So, when there is a threat of serious rain, we do reconfigure things a bit to make sure that nothing really important gets wet. That said, we did have a little moisture, but my bags did just fine and nothing inside was wet.


When we were researching a tent for backpacking, we were looking for the lightest tent we could find. After all, we are fifty-somethings!

We ended up with the Tarptent Double Rainbow, which has taken a little getting used to, but we really, really like it. Our favorite features include:
  • Doors on BOTH sides,
  • The ability to set it up without stakes (very handy when setting up under a picnic shelter), and
  • There are many ways to configure the vestibule flaps using poles or extra lines.
A couple of things to note:
  1. There is no rain fly. This is a single-walled tent, which means that there is a potential for condensation. If you follow a couple of guidelines for tent placement/setup, you can minimize this risk. 
  2. Keep the air flowing. At first, we would set it up so that there was as little outside air coming in as possible, thinking this was the best was to "keep warm." Wrong. This contributes to condensation.
  3. Location, location, location. Stay away from grassy meadows and water. Camp under a tree. If there's wind, be aware of how you orient the tent to minimize dust. 
In the photo below, our tent is under a tree on some pretty meager grass. It was very hot and muggy on this October day (the low for the day was in the 70s). We wanted to have some privacy at night but also wanted good airflow, so we used our trekking poles to hold up the flaps.

Tarpent Double Rainbow in Hermann, Missouri

Monday, October 8, 2018

Katy Trail Bikepacking Map

Here's the map of our most excellent bikepacking trip. You can read all about it on our Katy Trail page.

Transportation: To & From the Katy Trail

After reading all of the various posts on how to travel to and from the Katy Trail, we were scratching our heads on how we would make this happen. Turns out, it was pretty easy. Especially with our folding Dahon bicycles.

Combining our bike trip with a visit to family in the Chicago area, we decided that we didn't have to count the cost of the train trip from Oregon to Chicago in our trip budget. That said, we tried to minimize all other costs.

Here's what we did:

1. Amtrak's Illinois Service: Summit, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. We carried on our gear and folding bikes. Total: $38

One hour layover in St. Louis

We wanted to ride the entire trail from Clinton to Machens and the best option we found was to get off the train in Warrensburg.

2. Amtrak's Missouri River Runner:  St. Louis to Warrensburg, Missouri. Arrived a bit late (8:45pm or so), hopped on our bikes and rode to our hotel in the dark). Total: $44

From Warrensburg, you can either catch the Greyhound (college towns always have bus service) to Clinton or pick up a rental car.

3. Enterprise Car Rental: Believe it or not, the car rental was cheaper than the Greyhound was for the two of us. For whatever reason, we were not charged a one-way drop fee. Total: $34.64 plus $5 gas (which was more gas than we needed to put in the car).

4. I-70 Commuter Service St Charles to Hanley Metro Station: Our bikes, and our gear were quickly transported from St. Charles to the Hanley Metro Station. This service runs four times/morning. Total: $1

5. Hanley Metro Station to St Louis: Bikes are allowed on the train, you just have to hold on to them! Total: $5

We toured around on our bikes, spending the day taking in the sites in downtown St Louis: Gateway Arch National Park (including the Museum of Westward Expansion, tram ride to the top, and riverboat cruise) and the City Museum.

6. Enterprise Car Rental: Using the discount code from the insurance company (which removed the one way drop fee), we were able to rent a car in downtown St. Louis, drive it up historic Route 66, and drop it in Roselle, IL (back to visiting the family!). They upgraded us to a Ford Edge, which worked out great because we were able to sleep in the back on our sleeping pads at the campground on our way back (it rained and we just decided to scrap putting up the tent!). Total: $65.90 plus $45.11 gas (for the two day car rental).

Total transportation costs from Chicago area to the Katy Trail and back: $238.65

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Katy Trail Day 7: Augusta to Machens (and back to St Charles)

This final morning, we woke up and found that there was no water at the campground! The pipe had burst and they were digging up the road to repair it. So we packed up and headed for the upper park to find water above the break.
Another Night, Another Shelter
Klondike State Park, Missouri
Found the Water: Scrambled Eggs, Ham & Potatoes and Battocletti's Pastry
Once again, we found that there was no water along the trail. From Augusta to St Charles, the only place with services was Defiance, if you ride through during business hours. We were glad that we were prepared and that the temp was about 30 degrees cooler than the day before.
Trail Crossing
The rain started somewhere around Weldon Springs and continued through to St Charles. We arrived very, very wet (glad we had our rain gear) and pulled off the trail to see if our room was ready at the St Charles Country Inn & Suites by Radisson. We chose this hotel specifically because it was right on the trail as you entered St Charles and we were happy we did. Arriving around noon, they were able to accommodate us with an early check-in, as we wanted to drop off our gear before heading out to Machens. He gave us a room on the second floor - right next to the elevator...generally this would be cause for concern, but being a newer hotel, we couldn't hear a thing. The best part was that the stairs were across from us and the laundry room was right next door. Full service!

We knew that we wanted to check out the historic sites before heading to Machens because everything would be closed after we returned. After dropping our gear, drying off, a cookie and coffee, we headed over to see the Lewis & Clark Boat House, which housed a small, but interesting museum and a replica of the boat the explorers used to travel up the Missouri to Mandan, ND. This stop kind of brought us full circle, as we had followed the trail on much of our ride. Next was a trip to the first state capitol and a quick stop at the gift shop, where we found really cool bike Jerseys...thanks Joan and John!
Is that a bike trail I see?
Feeling refortified, we headed out on the trail sometime after 2pm. We rode out of St Charles and made a quick stop at Jean Baptist Point DuSable Park, which was just two miles from our hotel. The next 11 miles were brutal due to the depth of the loose sandy limestone on the trail and the headwinds. We fishtailed and came to dead stops in the sand so many times, I lost count. We rode in silence, just trying to make forward progress. As it turned out (we learned the next day), we were both too busy muttering a string of expletives as we rode. At no time did either of us ever consider turning around; we both knew that we wanted to finish the entire trail. This is why we are perfectly suited adventurers.
St Charles to Machens: Truck and Bike Tracks in the Sandy Limestone
We did come to a very hardpacked an unmaintained portion of the trail...we were very thankful, although it was what I would say was the creepiest part of the trail. We road fast and hard through here, happy to make forward progress.

The closer and closer we got to Machens, the more we both worried about riding back. In my mind, I already knew we would be jumping back and forth between farm roads and the trail. At the Black Walnut trailhead we talked to one of the park maintenance guys. Turns out they dumped new limestone on the trail several weeks back. Lucky us.

Here we are...riding in to the Machens trailhead!

We Made It!
Looking Back at the Trailhead from the Final and Easternmost Gate

Cyclist TIP: From Augusta to St Charles, the only place with services was Defiance, if you ride through during business hours.

Cyclist TIP: Country Inn & Suites in St Charles - great location, great service. Bikes allowed in the room!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Katy Trail Day 6: Hermann to Augusta

What a day! Much to our surprise when we walked over to the bathroom to retrieve our clothes that we had left hanging to dry the previous evening, we found our bicycle clothes, but both of our bras were gone! The only thing we could figure was that the little old (homeless?) lady who was camped nearby must have needed them way more than we did.
Good Morning!
Had a great morning exploring the town of Hermann: bakery delights, visitor center, a historic tour, wine tasting, and lunch. The lady at the visitor center was in her mid 70s and very nice. We told her our bra story and she just said "what a great reason to go braless." We assured her that we had spares and I commented that I thought Missourians were a bit more proper. She laughed and said, "There's a reason they call it the "Show Me" state!"
Battocletti Bake Shoppe

The tour was of two of the  original homes built by the Germans. One of the homes was lived in until 1968 by a woman who lived to be 98 years old. She knew that she wanted to donate the home to the historical society, and would not have any upgrades. She lived in it the same way her entire life and when she passed away the house perfectly reflected how one would have lived in it during the 1800s, complete with the original furnishings. In the basement was a printing press where there had been a newspaper printed and shipped to various cities and even Germany. They also included chapters from the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in their paper; the Germans living in this area were adamantly opposed to slavery. Had anyone found out they were doing this, they would have been arrested. The house was also adjacent to one of the original wineries in town. This particular winery won the top wine award in the 1890s in Europe. Norton grapes.

We finally left around 2pm and started our 40 mile ride east to Augusta. Today was extremely hot and windy, and in the direct sun the air was so thick it felt like you could chew it. The wind just whirled around and around, sometimes ahead wind and sometimes that tail wind. 

Standing Rock

We had become accustomed to finding water at almost all of the trailheads, but this was not the case today. We found a vending machine in front of a little tiny Katy Trail store in Peers, Missouri and bought cold drinks. We were very thankful for the vending machine.
Peers, MO
We turned off at about 6:30pm and pushed our bikes up a steep incline to the Klondike State Park only to find about 46 sixth graders staying in the cabins for science camp. They were all very nice kids, but we had at least a dozen of them in front of us in the shower line...and there were only two showers. With no adult chaperone in the bathroom, I just tried to do what I'd imagine my friend Elly (a 6th grade teacher) would do to move them along. We got a system worked out so that the kids would shower and go get changed in the bathroom stalls around the corner. The last few girls in line were quite appreciative and policed this process pretty well. I think they thought they were never going to get their turn.

After looking at all the campsites and with the chance of rain showers this evening we decided that we would go for our "shelter camping" strategy. So we found a great big shelter, pushed a couple of tables aside, set up our tent, had dinner, said goodnight and went to sleep with a gentle breeze (80 degrees at 11pm) and the roar of the coal burning power plant in the background.

Cyclist TIP: You will be exposed during this part of the ride, and most of the places catering to bikes close up by 4 (if they are even open on the weekdays). So, make sure to take advantage of the water at the Hermann Visitor Center and Marthasville. There is no water at Treolar. Peers had a vending machine, but that could be sold out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Katy Trail Day 5: Jefferson City to Hermann

We are having a great time and nothing hurts!

The fun part of the day was that we leapfrogged with several other cyclists heading east on the Katy Trail. There was a group of four from North Carolina, a single fellow from Texas, and cousins from the Kansas City area. Everyone was so friendly and all were staying in B&Bs along the trail.

At about 11:58am, this very loud siren went off. It was so loud that one of the bikers stopped to cover his ears. It went on for four minutes! Turns out that it was the monthly emergency test for the nuclear power plant.
First Tuesday of the Month Testing
Two of our stops stood out today: lunch in Mokane and a cold drink at Steamboat Springs (Bluffton). We knew from studying the map that there was going to be a little store called the Mokane Market. We didn't see a sign, but kind of peeked through the windows, which were covered in old photos/articles, and saw a lady cleaning the tables. So we went on in and ordered up our lunch. I don't know if I was just really hungry or if that chicken salad was that great, but we were thankful that Desra was there to make our sandwiches!

Steamboat Springs is a little campground and a self-service cold drink stand where you just pay on the honor system. A couple ran it for many years; sadly the woman passed away in 2017. There was a nice little story about her posted on the sign. We were very grateful for the cold beverages, as it was 91 in the shade.
Lynn and Brian (Plano, TX) at Steamboat Springs.

We ended up riding 50.7 miles today and pulled into the little town of Hermann at 4:30 this afternoon.

We took a walk around the campground, and enjoyed our dinner and showers. Oh, and those snacks we bought in Jefferson City at the Dollar General (it's kind of like Dollar Store) rocked! We mixed up our dehydrated hummus and ate it with carrots and the mini pack of Ritz crackers. And tonight we feasted on lemon creme sandwhich cookies in our tent.  We will always go there for snacks on our bike trip!

We are looking forward to a balmy evening (low 71 at 6am!) and to taking the historic tour tomorrow morning.

Cyclist TIP: The Hermann City Park is an easy ride from the bridge. Take a look at a topo map to find the flattest route.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Katy Trail Day 4: Hartsburg to Jefferson City

Today we rode about 18 miles, which included some mileage around town as we visited the Missouri State Capitol and Museum, had lunch at the Prison Brews, toured the old penitentiary and then made our way to our Airbnb.

We had a pretty good night of sleep at the hartsburg Ballpark. One stray chocolate lab meandered around the picnic area in the middle of the night, we got a whiff of skunk, and we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise while drinking our coffee.

We didn't have far to ride on the trail today, so we made sure to pick up a couple of geocaches along the way. 

We had to take the Jefferson City spur which included a trip up a very interesting ramp onto the bridge to cross the mighty Missouri.
Bike Ramp

Once we got to Jefferson City, we headed straight for the capital and had a fantastic tour with highlights of some incredible artwork. 

We hadn't realized how many hills there were in Jefferson City, but that did not deter us from our lunch at the Prison Brews. We had several samples of their various beers that they made there and our take away is that Oregon rocks it when it comes to craft beer.

The highlight of the lunch were the incredible sweet potato fries which are covered with cinnamon and sugar. Absolutely delicious and not to be missed.

After lunch we raced over to the old penitentiary to take the tour. It was very interesting although the gas chamber was a little bit too creepy for us.

Cyclist TIP: We stayed in an Airbnb with a washer/dryer a block away from the Central Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and the Dollar Store (great snacks for the trail and $1 Tide), and close enough for a walk to see the capital and nearby sculptures.