We knew that today was going to be a long ride, so we got up early and had a quick breakfast at the rectory before hitting the trail. We said goodbye to Fr. Basil before leaving. I truly hope to cross his path again soon – he is the kind of priest that exudes joy. I am certain that if more of our priests were like him, we would have many more young men discerning vocations.
Up to this point, the Katy has been meandering through the flood plains of the Missouri River. From Boonville on, the Katy runs in a different direction. The first 165 miles have been very flat, you could even say monotonous. Today’s ride was not flat – these last 78 miles were nearly all up or down hill with very little flat. The Katy is still a railroad grade, so the hills and climbs were all less than 3%, but there sure was a lot of gentle climbing, starting immediately as we left Boonville. For anyone who has ridden the Great Allegheny Passage’s climb from Cumberland to Frostburg, today reminded me of that kind of climb all day.
The cool temperatures were really comfortable for the first 40 miles of today’s ride. The afternoon was a bit toasty, but the beginning of the ride was really great. All-in-all, very good weather today.
The Katy passes through a few small farming communities and small farm towns in this section. Unlike the eastern end, I found this last 80 miles to be more varied and interesting scenery. We rode long grades up into forested sections, took a few downhillls among interesting rock formations, and had a lot of canopied path.
We made pretty good time to Sedalia, although we didn’t really set any speed records. We took a fairly relaxed pace going up the hills, opting for low gears.
On a couple of my past bike adventures, I’ve had to “face the demons” as I say. There are some days that your body decides that it does not want to undertake the challenge that lies ahead. You start to doubt your ability and training and wonder if you will be able to make it to the end of the day’s ride. I faced a little of that on day 2 of this ride – and during that day, Joe pulled me along. Today was Joe’s turn to face the demons.
Some place around Pilot Grove, Joe began having a little difficulty keeping up on the hills. By the time we reached the outskirts of Sedalia, I knew he was probably “bonking” – a problem where your blood sugar and/or water are out of balance from not drinking or eating enough. I gave him some nuts and made him drink a bunch of water. We arrived at the old Sedalia train station and he was a little better.
We went to Subway for lunch and we each ate a large sandwich and a couple of large cups of drinks. That did the trick. Joe came back to life! Although his muscles were a little tired, his mental state improved 100%. From Sedalia on, we were having a lot more fun. And that’s a good thing because from there on, we encountered very stiff and relentless headwinds on top of the constant climbing! We had nearly 45 miles of headwinds today. We just geared down a click and took it one pedal stroke at a time.
The highest point of the Katy reaches 955 feet. It was very hot and windy up there. You can see that the trail seems to go on forever up there in the open!
Shortly after taking these pictures, we resumed our trip towards the end at Clinton. However, after we had gotten back on our bikes and put our cameras away, a couple of A10 Warthog airplanes came swooping over our heads and turned back to where they came from. The sound was amazing. I did catch some footage with my sport camera on video, but I can’t upload it here until I get to a computer back home.
The next town we arrived at was Windsor, Mo. This town purchased a caboose to put at their trailhead. As they were restoring the car by stripping the paint, they discovered that under the outer layer, there was a paint job from the Spirit of 76 train that was used during the Bicentennial of 1976. They then restored it to that condition. Neat story!
We met this nice couple from Ithaca NY as they were making their way east on the Katy. They had parked their car in St. Charles and had a shuttle service drop them off on the west side to pedal back east. Her name was Elaine, I think. I don’t remember his name – he hardly said a word.
We eventually arrived at Clinton! This is the Western end of the Katy, so we can now say we’ve gone the whole length of the trail.
We had just a couple of miles of surface streets to get to the church. We made it with about 40 minutes to spare. We were introduced to Father Jim and Deacon Steve. Deacon Steve and his wife, and another Deacon took us out for dinner after mass. We had a nice conversation and got to know each other a bit. It was a nice way to see downtown Clinton, too.
Clinton has a really classic town square with the courthouse in the middle and shops all around it. I love these kinds of towns!
As I write, I’m waiting for our laundry to dry, then it is time for bed.
Tomorrow is a 45-50 mile day, starting by riding back to Sedalia, catching the 5:20PM train to Hermann, then a few more miles from Hermann to Rhineland to stay for the night. Looking forward to a more relaxed day. We should have some time to explore Sedalia a little, take our time, and enjoy the scenery. I’m also really hoping that those crazy winds from the west that pushed against us today keep up again so that we will have tailwinds on our way back tomorrow!
Until Tomorrow, Peace!