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.
Next stop: Rhineland, MO.
– Dcn. Matt