Katy Trail Day 2 – Flat and Flats from St. Charles to Rhineland (68 miles)

Today started with a nice breakfast send off from Deacon Larry and his wife Mary.  They were amazingly wonderful hosts.  Dcn. Larry likes to come out to Kentucky to Gethsemane Abbey for retreats – so maybe we can convince him to head our way before/after so that we can return the hospitality.

The weather for today looked to be a great forecast.  Doesn’t get much nicer than a cool start and highs in the upper 70s or lower 80s.  (But note the forecast for later in the week when we are making our way back – 95 degrees.)

At the St. Charles trailhead, they have a couple of cabooses, so it seemed like a good place to get our start-of-day obligatory picture.

Today’s trip was about 68 miles.  We had originally planned a few extra miles of side-trip into Hermann, but decided later to hold off on the extra trip.

Throughout the 68 miles, the entire trail is very flat.  The Katy is a crushed limestone surface and pretty well maintained.  We rode over a few minor washout repairs, but no major trail ruts or problems.  The trail is fairly smooth, but the buzz of the gravel is a constant companion, and the surface doesn’t allow you to coast much.  So although it is very flat, you are constantly working to keep the pedals turning.

We were told to expect nearly all shaded area today.  I would say we were about 70% shaded and 30% very direct sun.  Parts of the trail are canopied with trees, but there are very long stretches where you are adjacent to, or down the middle of farm land with absolutely no cover at all.

On the east end of the Katy, most of the trail is close to the Missouri River.  Sometimes, it is only a few feet, and other times you are a few hundred yards.

We saw several places where these murals up to draw attention to the construction of the Katy through the land trust.

Throughout nearly our entire ride today we kept crossing paths with a guy named Doug.  He is in the green shirt blow.  He is from Juno Alaska and flew in with his bike to ride the Katy.  We talked a bit and he seemed pretty nice.  We didn’t get a chance to exchange contact info.

Today did bring a few challenges, too.  Yesterday, Joe had a flat on his rear tire.  Today he had a flat on the rear tire, and another on the front.  The second flat happened less than a mile from our destination.  It looks like the tires he chose just aren’t up to the challenge of the tiny and jagged rocks of the Katy.  His first flat today took a little time to repair, and by the second one, we decided that we need to find him some new tires.  So when we get to Jefferson City tomorrow, we will be heading to the bike shop to find something that is a little more suited to the trail.

After the second flat repair today, we finally arrived at our home for tonight: Church of the Risen Savior in Rhineland.  It is right across the street from a huge corn field.

We were greeted by the parish secretary who showed us around and got us situated.  One neat thing that I’ve not seen at a parish before: a quilting ministry.  As we arrived, the quilters were just wrapping up.  They meet and work on hand-crafted and pieced quilts that are then auctioned off as fundraisers for various ministries and needs.

One of the quilters, Maxine, came out and talked to us about the Katy.  She is a trail volunteer who used to like to ride the trail.

After getting cleaned up, we went to 6PM mass.  Right after mass, the assisting deacon and his wife offered to take us over to the (as in the only) restaurant in Rhineland: the Trailside.  Jerry and Elaine grew up in this area and have lived here for many years.   Over dinner, they told us a bit about themselves, their grown kids and their families.

For me, dinner consisted of fried chicken.  Yum.        It was pretty tasty!

After dinner, they offered to drive us around a bit, including taking us to Hermann – the town we elected not to ride into.  It was a wonderful tour and great dinner.

While in Hermann, they took us by St. George’s.  It is a really beautiful church with great stained glass depicting the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

So now our laundry is washed and we’re about ready to call it a night.  Tomorrow will be shorter day – probably around 40-45 miles into Jefferson City.  We are hoping for a respite from the flat tires, too.

Until tomorrow, good night!


Katy Trail Day 1 – An easy start (25 miles)

Today was an early day.  We began by leaving Lexington very early and driving out to St. Charles, Missouri to begin our week-long adventure on the Katy trail.  After a mostly non-eventful ride, we finally saw the iconic St. Louis arch off in there distance, which meant that our first destination was pretty close.  A little while later, we arrived in the town of St. Charles.

I had read a little about St. Charles, but I still don’t really know much about this neat town.  The old main street is brick-paved and really fascinating.  Lots of old buildings that now house small shops and restaurants.  I wish we had another day just to wander the streets here.

The Katy starts a few miles east of St. Charles, but there isn’t much at all to see or places to stop between here and the eastern end.  So we began our trip by leaving our car at one of the parishes in St. Charles and riding our bikes out to the east end in Machens, MO – about 25 miles round trip.

The ride eastward was fairly uneventful.  The trail is a nice crushed limestone surface.  Not as smooth as pavement, and a bit harder to pedal, but all-in-all, a good riding surface.

Missouri has had a lot of rain this season, and the river had reached flood stage not too long ago.  I had read on the state web site that there was a closure a few miles east of St. Charles.  We found the closure, but chose to continue on because we wanted to see the entire Katy trail.  The wash-out area was pretty rough with mud and ruts.  It took some careful riding to navigate, but we managed to do it OK both directions.

Eventually we reached the eastern end of the Katy in Machens.  The trail abruptly ends here.  Aside from a latrine and the trailhead map, there is nothing here.  No water or parking lot.  We stopped for a photo opportunity, and then turned our way back to St. Charles for the evening.

On our way out to Machens, the winds were fairly strong and in our face.  We could see the occasional flag that was blowing straight out, and the prairie grasses were all bending towards us.  The nice thing was that the headwinds became tailwinds as we turned back to St. Charles.

Shortly after turning back, Joe had a flat tire.  It wasn’t obvious where it was leaking and it was a slow leak.  So we stopped about every 2-3 miles to pump his tire back up and nurse it along the 12 miles to St. Charles.  When we returned, we were able to find a bike shop to change out his tube at the Bike Stop Cafe.

After the delay, we quickly packed up our things and made our way to our hosts for the night.  Deacon Larry and his wife Mary prepared a nice dinner of pasta and we spent the entire evening talking, sharing ministry stories, and laughing a lot.  A really nice glass of red wine completed the evening.  Once again, as I often point out, the fellowship we have on these biking adventures is great.  I had never met Deacon Larry before, but over some pasta and wine, we become family.

It is time for bed.  We have a long day tomorrow in the saddle – probably about 75 miles.  We’re hoping for no more flat tires and definitely more tail winds to help speed us along.

Next stop: Rhineland, MO.


– Dcn. Matt