Susan & Mark’s Katy Trail Adventure

19 May

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2011 Katy Trail Report

Susan & Mark’s Katy Trail Adventure II 

Read about our 2011 KATY Trail fully self-supported bike tour.


A week ago today we rode the last miles of the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri.
Entrance to KT in Clinton
We began at the beginning – the Clinton trail head and ended in St. Charles:  240 miles in total – 227 miles of the Katy, 13 miscellaneous miles, 6 days of riding. Glorious riding.

Red line is our route.

We decided to ride the Katy from west to east because logistically it made the most sense. Plus, typically the wind blows from west to east this time of year and we looked forward to riding all week with either no head wind or if we were really lucky – a tail wind. Every cyclist’s dream.

We arrived in Clinton the evening of Thursday, May 6th. It was an easy drive taking us just over 5 hours. The bikes were safely tucked inside and had pizza and drinks in tow so no need to stop.


Pre-ride lodging was at the Hampton Inn in Clinton. We couldn’t stand it so we rode around a bit in the parking lot just to test things out. We cleared it with the hotel then took the bikes up to the room via the elevator. I really wanted to ride mine through the lobby.

We left Clinton early in the morning and headed out into the wind and cold. It was cloudy but rain was not in the forecast. We decided to ride through downtown Clinton before catching the beginning of the trail.  This was the way we rode the entire trail – taking our time, enjoying the sites.

Stopping when the mood struck us.


There were many moments that stood out.

Riding alongside Mark, buzzing down the trail side by side.  Countless birds flying in and out.  No other sounds but our bikes and the birds.
Miles and miles of trail with heavily treed canopy.

Sunlight filtering in, birds leading the way.


Informative depots at every trail head on the Katy Trail covering the next town/trail head.


Endless miles of spring flowers along the Trail.

Iridescent blue of the Indigo Buntings and the more common, but still beautiful blue of the Eastern Bluebird.
The ring of Condor’s bell – which I rang to say hello to others on the trail and also to celebrate seeing an indigo bunting.

Miles of trail alongside the wider-than-I-expected Missouri River.



Hotel Bothwell and the endless noises throughout the night. Finding out the next morning that some believe it is haunted. Add me to that list.

Recognizing on day one that we had significantly over packed and actually sending as much stuff as we could cram into a large duffel home via UPS. Nice, helpful people at UPS store in Sedalia.

Surprisingly few number of people on the Trail.
How clean and well maintained the Trail was. A donation from us coming their way.
Wishing Oklahoma had something like this. Being glad the Katy is so close.
Headwind for the majority of days. Rain only one. Cool temps most days. All in all good weather.
The sun and tailwind on day 2 our longest day – 53 miles.

Beautiful skies.
The two of us inhaling a large pizza for lunch in what was probably less than 5 minutes.
Crossing the Missouri River at Boonville, the butterflies/vertigo over how high we were but more so about how strong the crosswind was.

Bob Irish and the pictures he took of us.

Arriving in Rocheport late in the afternoon to the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Katy.
Partying with the locals at the General Store.
Our longest day and no dinner. Thankful for the large pizza at lunch. Our ongoing laughter at how fast we ate it!
Remembering how friendly people that ride bikes are.
Beautiful fields and farms.
Taking note and pictures of all the truss bridges for our son-in-law, Tyler.

Feeling like most of the time we were going slightly uphill.

Riding along the churning Missouri River.
 All the friendly, kind and just overall wonderful people we met along the way.
Randy and Jeanette at the  
Briar Rose Inn in Jefferson City – their warmth and hospitality. The huge suite and beautiful antiques. Dinner at Arris’s. Our very early start to avoid the thunderstorms.  The lunch they packed that saved us.
Bone soaking rain all day. Grateful that it was just rain and wind. Started out with temp in high 40’s.
Tree downed from storm over the trail but park service already clearing.


Appreciating the lifestyle of small towns. The kindness and friendliness of the people.

The simpleness and straightforwardness of riding a bike.
Countless pictures of Condor and Traveler.

Tim Johnson aka fellow Brooks sufferer.  Riding cross country from Jacksonville, Florida to Oregon.
Feeling like a couple of punks when on the way home I read on Crazy Guy on a Bike website that the day we rode 43 miles in the soaking rain Tim rode 140.
Elden and Maggie at Meyer’s Hilltop Farm – Mark’s dream place.  The perfect breakfast for cyclists.  Beautiful farm, Oscar and Leon, Katy, the warm and inviting site of Elden on the porch and the glow of the candles in the windows.  Showing up and looking like a couple of drowned rats.  Good as new the next morning.
Dinner at the Stonehill Winery and looking out on the vineyards at dusk covered in mist.
We weren’t nearly as buzzed as we look.

Augusta – wine tasting and hill climbing. In that order.


Thinking about the next hill…
Gene and Jacqui at Swan Haven Inn.  Great conversation, felt like friends.  Incredible home, built in 1860, updated throughout, simple on the outside, elegant on the inside, crumpets in the morning, delicious omelet.  More great conversation and a late start to the day.

Spending the evening walking around Augusta in place of eating. Hoping we would find something open.  Of course we didn’t.

Condor and Traveler’s home for the night.

Mix of feelings about starting out on our last day.



The couple from Michigan riding a tandem recumbent.  Just starting their ride.  Exuberant.

My butt’s growing fondness for the Brooks saddle.

Father and son walking the Katy Trail.

Those beautiful indigo buntings.

And flowers…

The HUGE tree just before St. Charles.


George and his buddy at Katy Trail bike rentals in Defiance and their help with Mark’s cleat and pedal.  Great ice cream.  Good prices.  Nice people.

Defiance.  Sounds like a place Mark and I would fit in.
Spending so much time at George’s that a storm was moving in when we were ready to leave again.  Riding as fast as we could to beat the storm.  We did.
Slowing down and enjoying our last miles.

Feeling stronger on the last day than the first.


Celebrating over dinner at The Vine on Main.
The week exceeded any expectations either of us had. 


Next time I will post on our ride with my netbook as we go.
We would do it again tomorrow.
We are doing it again in October.

Want more info and pictures on riding the KATY Trail? Read the posts about our 2011 self-supported tour of KATY –

Susan & Mark’s Katy Trail Adventure II

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28 Responses to “Susan & Mark’s Katy Trail Adventure”

  1. Julie May 21, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    I loved your blog and pictures!! I haven't had the opportunity to tour by bike yet, but I'm planning a trip to the Pacific Coast Highway soon. Thanks for sharing your memories…makes me want to check out the Katy trail for sure.


  2. motheronamission May 21, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    What a great post Susan! Love the pictures, the layout and how you described it. Can't wait to here more during our visit later this summer. 🙂

  3. motheronamission May 21, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    ummm, i meant "hear" more…

  4. Tri Girl May 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    WOW!!! I mean: WOW!!!!

    I absolutely LOVED your write-up!! I love the pictures, the story, the brief snapshots of what stood out in your mind, the pictures and the pictures!! I can't wait to do the Katy trail, that's for sure. I'm going to do some research now to learn some more.
    I'm so excited for you and for your adventure. I hope to take one like that sometime soon, myself! Congrats on your ride. Sounds like October won't come soon enough!! 🙂

  5. Tri Girl May 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Oh yeah, and what company did you use to shuttle, and how did you like them? Also- did you find that riding the packed trail was far more difficult than the road? I've always wondered about that since we have no rails to trails around here.

  6. Tri Girl May 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    great- thanks! 😉

  7. EJ May 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Hi Susan, Tim Johnson here. Wow, your Katy trip was way nicer than mine! Your web page is beautifully done. It makes me want to go back and do it in B&B style. First I have to finish the ride to Portland. I agree that traveling by bike is a great way to see the world. Last night Elizabeth and I were dreaming of a trip biking around Spain. I could see you two riding across Europe…take care. Tim

  8. Zen May 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    Excellent photos.
    Lots of photos and just enough talk, my favorite format.

  9. Susan May 23, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    Thanks Zen, mine too.

    Tim, I read some of your journal while driving back from MO. Read aloud to Mark your post about the *make-up lady*. Hysterical. What a prize she was! Also felt so bad about not thinking to ask if you needed anything when we met on the trail. We had plenty and could have easily shared some with you. Forgot my cyclist manners. 😉 Happy travels – maybe we'll see you and your wife cycling down the roads of Spain some day.

  10. BigBlueToe May 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    Wonderful post. I hope to ride the Katy Trail someday, and I think it would be wonderful to do with my wife (who has never yet done a tour.) Could you post some data about your bikes for us techno-geeks? I'd love to know what equipment you have and how you like it. Thanks!

  11. Susan May 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks Ray, I appreciate you adding a link to my post to the ride reports part of the bikekatytrail website. We found the website very helpful in planning our trip.

  12. margie May 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Enjoyed your journal and pictures….you just can't beat riding the Katy! I've ridden it multiple times, but everytime I read a journal or see pics, I enjoy it just as much as the first time.
    Come back to MO and ride again sometime 🙂

  13. Anonymous May 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your trip! Our family is riding part of the trail this summer so it was fun to look at your TERRIFIC pictures! I am so excited!!!

  14. Susan May 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Margie & Anony~ Thanks for visiting and your comments. We will definitely be riding again, and Anony, the Katy is the perfect place for a family ride. We hope to take our grandchildren Ethan & Isabel for a ride on the KT in the future.

  15. Susan Toensing June 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Susan, Loved your blog! We live in Utah and would like to do the Trail. How do we plan ahead to make reservations for lodging? Is there a list of B&B's with phone numbers? If so where can we get it? How did you get back to Clinton? Did you ride your bikes back or is there public transporation that can get us back to our car? Excited from South Jordan, Utah Utah Fred and Susan

    • bob moore July 25, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      We are going to try the Katy trail this sept. We are using a small company which covers everything. Any suggestions?

      PS we live in Payson

      • Susan July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am #

        Have snacks with you and keep water bottles topped off, some trail heads don’t have running water. Many stores and restaurants close until weekend, depending on when you go that could be an issue. September should be a great time on the trail – Have Fun!

  16. Susan June 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Thanks for visiting, Utah Fred & Susan. There are links embedded in my post that you can click on for additional information. The one I would recommend you start with (which includes information about getting back to your car, lodging, etc.) is the Bike Katy Trail website:

  17. Phil VP July 14, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    Hi — I really enjoyed reading your posts about your trip on the Katy Trail. It sounds like it was a blast and I plan on doing it pretty soon. I was wondering though – what did you do with your car the whole time you were biking? Did you leave it in Clinton somewhere? Thanks and really enjoyed your stuff. — Phil

  18. Ron July 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Susan, I love this journal. I have taken notes from your ride, but didn't catch the place you stayed while in Rocheport overnight. I am a school teacher, which makes my most available bike riding days to be around July each year. That makes for hot rides, but the scenery of the KATY fascinates me. What a blessing, plus the town where I teach school in Pleasant Hill, MO plans to construct 43 miles of "dead" rail lines to attach to the current KATY. This is all depending upon Missouri's Governor staying with the plan to finance this.

  19. Dennis c Hood March 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    What a great story so happy for you all.I plan to
    ride the KATY in june or july Lord willing. Just
    cant waite never dreamed i would be addicted to biking
    at my age 50 something .Also glad someone else agrees
    about the Brooks seat
    Happy Biking
    Thanks again

    • Susan March 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm #


      Glad you discovered biking! It is addictive but at least it’s good for you. You will love the Katy Trail, even with a Brooks!

      Thanks for your visit and comment.


  20. Meg March 13, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    We’re thinking of doing the trail in mid May on our Tandem road bike and 11 month old son. Would you say May is a good month or should we wait until June?

    • Susan March 14, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

      Hi Meg,

      May would be my preference for riding the Katy, although either month would be good. The bike/people traffic on the trail is lighter in May, once school is out, things get busier.

      The trail surface is fairly well packed (limestone) but it can get deep in places. I hope you have at least 28c tires on your tandem for stability. You’ll love the trail, it’s beautiful, peaceful and well-maintained. Have a great ride!


  21. Clay Campbell March 27, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    Hi Susan

    I plan on riding the trail in late July. My wife is a teacher and with our summer schedule, this is the only time we could do it. I know it will be hot and humid – oh well. My wife, who is not a cyclist, will drive a sag wagon (a small rented RV) and we hope to find small campgrounds, parking lots, etc. where ever we can. We, too, plan to go from west to east for tailwinds and sun at my back . We want fluidity and flexibility and not to worry so much about our lodging, and to put our $ to nice restaurants, souevnirs, etc. I appreciated your blog and photos and am excited to begin.

    Clay Campbell
    Albuquerque, New Mexico

  22. denise wallace July 19, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    We want to do this exact trip next year. May I ask, how much did you bring? Did you wash clothes along the way? Bring any food, or strictly eating out along the way? Did you have to travel far off the Katy to lodge?

    • Susan July 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

      We brought a couple pairs of bike shorts, couple of jerseys and for off the bike capris and 2 t-shirts. I did wash my bike stuff so I didn’t have to take as much and that worked fine. We ate out but carried energy bars, nuts, etc for snacks. All of our lodging was fairly close to the trail. Check the links and also for distance on lodging options. Katy Trail is an easy trip, our first self-supported tour and can’t imagine a better place to try it. You’ll love the KT.

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