Day 1, June 9, Pleasant Hills MO to Windsor, MO
Today, we bicycled the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail from and to the towns above. It is a rails-to-trail, an defunct railroad line where the tracks are pulled up and the railroad bed is now used for hiking, horseback riding and most popular bicycling, although local people use for their daily walk. The surface is hard pack dirt with a light layer of fine gravel, and motorized vehicles not allowed. This portion just opened in 2016. Country roads do cross it and at every crossing there are bars on the trail like RR bars with only room in the middle for single file hikers, horses, bicylists.
A day to remember! We started our usual 4 a.m. in the Pleasant Hills Methodist church — Marie and me driving from GJ, Sandy driving from NE, Sherri from Idaho and Giovanna from NY flying into the KS airport. The 3 gals are all from HD families, bicyclists, and we met at previous conventions, all have bicycled with Marie and me before on these HD rides. Susana at the church was so great–she even arranged an interview with the newspaper. And an example of our sleeping style here was CHAIRS. There were many large padded chairs, so for myself, I put 3 in a row for a soft bed, Marie and Sherri arranged 2 rows of chairs facing each other and put their sleeping bags in the middle, so we had very soft sleeping. Giovanni and Sandy in other rooms, don’t know what they put together.
We amazingly made our goal of leaving at 6 a.m. today with Marie driving the van and the rest of us bicycling–we on the trail, Marie on roads. It took us an hour of driving around yesterday to find the trailhead as it is not in town. This morning we bicycled directly to it, led by Sandy. Trails are great for bicyclists, difficult for support vehicles, as trailheads (from the road to the trail) are typically hard to find; they are not right along the main road the van has to follow, taking smaller roads which many times do not have signs to the Trail.
Marie’s destination was Medford (20 miles) where she parked the van at the trailhead, took out her bicycle and began riding there, 20 miles ahead of us. Our destination was also Medford where I would stop, load my bicycle on the van and drive the van 10 miles (in front of Marie) to the next trailhead at Chilhowee, the others continue bicycling on the trail continualy. So that is how Marie and I move the van, leapfroging in front of each other at designated trailheads. We do not wait, we park the van in front of each other, get out our bicycles and ride ahead.
The day was beautiful, cool 60s with jackets, high in the 80s, so taking off layers, and sweaty at the end of the day. The trail was lined on both sides by trees in most places, farmland seen through the trees–waist high corn, soybeans just coming up, black soil, a few ponds or lakes.
The best thing about RR trails is that they are basically flat. Missouri is very hilly, so when driving the van, the roads are narrow 2 lane with no shoulders, small steep hills up and down, many curves, with single or double yellow lines for no passing areas most of the time I drove today, few spots for passing. Of course, the locals want go faster than the speed limit, pushing from behind. At one time when I driving, speed limit 55, me driving at 55-60, pickup close behind mile after mile. He finally when around at 70 mph, rapidly disappearing around a bend.
Today after getting onto the trail, the gals left me behind as I am slower, but with my driving the van later I will soon be ahead of them, so Marie and I bicycle alone, the others together a while, then Sandy who is faster, went ahead, and Sherri later ahead. We all snack along the way with bars, etc. The 3 gals stop somewhere for a sandwich — now 10 am and already hot. We keep in touch via cell phones.
There were a few other bicylists heading west as we went east. Met a man from Leavenworth, KS checking out this new trail for his cycling group to ride in the fall with a full load. He was camping along the way–a man and woman on mules.
After got to Medford (only a couple houses) now driving van, found my way to main road, then found trailhead at Chilhowee (pop 325), grateful this little town had street signs. I am now bicycling from Chilhowell to Leeton (10 miles). This very difficult because they put road gravel on the trail–very bumpy, hard to ride through. I had to stop every mile and rest! Wonder who made this decision, obviously did not consult with a bicyclist. One local bicyclist told me he never rides this section because it is so hard. Well, I had to but fuming all the way! However, birds singing, a breeze through the trees. Is there anywhere I would rather be?
I drove from Leeton to Windsor (10 miles) (pop 10,000 or so), (our ending spot for the day), found the trailhead fortunately right along the trail and waited, now 1 p.m. The first to appear was Marie and we ate lunch from the cooler, PB sandwiches and fruit. Next came Sandy from NE, faster rider. She decided to bicycle the 15 miles to Clinton ( where staying overnight), rather than load and ride, now 2 p.m.
Next came Sherry 3p.m. or so reporting that Giovanna was having trouble, exhausted, a sore knee, so we waited. Giovanna called saying she could not bicycle further but she managed to ride or walk to where a road crossed the trail, but we did not know where that was from her description, many country roads cross the trail. She walked to a nearby farmhouse where a wonderful lady told her it was 510. We did not have any maps that showed the # of the country roads, so no clue, but finally figured out with the lady’s help that we could drive on EE road and find 510, which we did. Found Giovanna, loaded up her bicycle (now 4), and it is already 4 p.m.
Oh, here is farm produce stand at a home. Mennonites or Amish by dress. Young girl mowing lawn barefoot! Feet are black. Another young gals comes out of house also barefoot! Dad and mom arrive via horse and buggy, carrying sacks of groceries? into house. Sherri buys eggs, watermelon, cantalope, so we even more full in van.
Now to drive to the trailhead in Clinton from where Sandy called, waiting. We picked her up at 4:30 p.m., slow because another bike to load, this time on top.. now 5 bicycles, 5 of us packed in van, plus luggage, plus watermelon smashing my foot.
Using goggle maps on my phone drove to the Schumacher’s home arriving at 5:00. Marie and I stayed here in 2008. Elroy is veteranarian, Barb helps in office (their business). We due at church at 5:30 for a potluck, Barb already there. We go as are, dirty hands, sweaty, dust up to our ankles, Elroy leading us in pickup. Nice people, good food. A member interviewed us for paper. A lady there we met in 2008 wearing our 2008 T-shirt (from an HD family), used to live in Grand Junction. We met her in 2008 when she came to the trailhead after reading about us in the paper.
Finally at 8 to Schumacher’s large home for 3 of us, Giovanna and Sandy home with Caroline for overnight so we could each have separate beds. Rest of evening showers, laundry, visiting — they have gained 6 grandkids since 2008! Grateful for the day — 10 p.m. More adventures tmro.
Day 2, June 10, The Katy Trail – Windsor, MO to Sedalia, MO
We drove from Windsor where the (Rock Island Trail ended) to Clinton yesterday so we could start at the beginning of the Katy Trail today at Clinton and will travel across MO on it. It was also a RR line, tracks taken up and hardpack. Yesterday we were warned by bicyclists not to step off the trail into anything GREEN, as likely poison ivy, lots in MO.
Caroline’s husband, Tim, brings Sandy and Giovanni at 5:15 from the farm 1/2 hour from town where they stayed last night. Marie, Sherri and I stayed with Schumacher’s. Delicious breakfast of egg casserole, muffins, fruit, and out the door at 6 a.m. Elroy in pickup leads us to the Katy Trail trailhead. Looks familiar as we started here in 2004 and 2008. He and Barbara also bicycling with us a while–will go out and back. Leave at 6:30, cool morning, sun just coming up, birds singing, quiet. This area more open, farmland (wheat, corn) and pastures.
Elroy’s bicycle has seat like a chair with a seat and back, so he sits up straight, good for his back from back surgery last year, handlebars high. He is tall- 6’6– and as vet bending over for years taking care of animals, his back had a lot of trauma.
Sandy, Sherri, Giovanni and me bicycling, Marie driving van 10 miles to next trailhead at Calhoun. This trail is easier to ride, no gravel, and we enjoy a tailwind from the south! We traveling NE. The gals go ahead. The toes on my left foot begin to hurt, and just when I need it, here is a bench along the trail in memory of Joel Mansfield. Thank you Joel for a place to sit as take off shoe to discover sock bunched up there. Oh, much better. Trail today has only 1 bar on 1 side with sign, authorized vehichles only.
At 7:15 cross West Fork Tebo Creek over little bridge and think of Shelley Warren Tebo, class of 1962 Hartland High in Michigan. Hi, to all special HHS grads.
Ten miles later as arrive at Calhoun looking for van. Oh, up graveled hill to parking lot, have to walk. Like trails as they have bathrooms, PP yesterday, but real bathroom here with flush stool, even sink. Have system down of loading bike on carrier, fastening down, threading cord through front and back wheels to keep from spinning, plug cooler into cigarette lighter, take sunshield down, study map and note that Marie left about roads to where I drive to trailhead in Windsor (9 miles).
Arrive at Windsor again where we ended our ride yesterday and Marie and Sandy here already (fastest rider). Sandy on her way to Sonic for pepper poppers. Years ago we began calling her Sonic Sandy because anytime we could not find her on the ride, she was at Sonic, at that time for a special drink.
Here the clip clop, clip clop of horse and mom and 2 little kids pass by in buggy. Oh yes, saw sign on road that said, “Share the Road” with picture of horse and buggy. Now also sign on Katy Trail says, “No Horse Drawn Vehichles.”
9:30 I leave on bicycle (Marie driving to Green Ridge) — now a long stretch ahead of no trees, just bushes line trail, already hot, jacket off. Farmland and also sign that says Prairie Restoration Area. Sherri and Giovanna catch up as I reading sign that says, High point of Katy Trail 955 feet. Oh yes, we suspected we were going up all morning! Well,we now know nothing higher than this — we can do it! We are not going to think of Illinois just yet!
At Green Ridge trailhead, Marie here in van, my turn to drive. Study map very carefully because I am driving into City of Sedailia (20,000),to find trailhead which is the restored Depot. Remember it from past rides, but only there via Katy Trail, never by roads. I have it! Hwy 127, turn right on B road, left on 65 which takes me into middle of Sedalia (with traffic), right on 50, (see no signs for Katy trail). Have I gone too far on 50? turned wrong way on 50? Stop at CVS. Lady tell me I am close. Continue east, go under overpass, turn left at Woods Store, continue to 4-way stop and will see depot. Yes! What a beautiful sight, a beautiful restored big depot. I call Pastor Jeremy of Lutheran church where we are staying tonight, and he me tells church very close, can bicycle there, gives directions (will not have to load bikes and drive all as takes a long time).
Park in front and Sandy arrives, now noon. She is going back to NE today because of busy schedule. Ted Hatfield from Lees Summit (near KS) coming to pick her up, take her back to her car at church in Pleasant Hill where she arrived Thursday. Marie and I have known Ted for years, an HD family, stayed with them a couple times, who offered to do this because Sandy also HD family. Sherri and Giovanna, Marie arrive and we all sit on wide shaded veranda at front of depot. Ted and wife arrive about 1, catch up news of his 2 sons.
Bicyclists head back down Katy Trail, then road to nearby church. I drive as know the way because drove in, and we meet up after bicyclists circle around because no street but sidewalk off Katy trail. Pastor greets us, coming from school/gym building where church is tonight. Put bicycles in church foyer. We follow him to his empty house (for sale) for showers. He and wife just moved to new home. Back to church, carry in all gear. We in basement, old church right downtown with sanctuary above, basement and kitchen below, no Sunday School rooms, so reason for separate building. Sherri and Giovanna walk to downtown to eat out, Marie and I eat in so can type about today.
However, an HD family from Sedalia arrives. Husband member of this church, saw we were coming in church bulletin, wife has HD, mild symptoms Her sister also came (no HD). Mother had HD. Spent an hour hearing their story, etc. We like to meet HD families along the way, reminds us why we are out here, wishing Giovanna and Sherri here because they are from HD families.
Time for bed, Marie and I on couches in basement, Sherri on air mattress pastor brought, Giovanna upstairs on pew. Supposed to be very hot this week, secret is to start at dawn, we hope, get in early before really hot! So 4 a.m. again works well so far. Grateful for day.
PS: No wifi tmro night at farm near Boonville, so don’t worry as will be 1 day late,
Day 3, June 11, Sedalia MO to Boonville, MO
Day begins at Lutheran Church on Hwy 50 in Sedalia at 4 a.m. Sherrie cuts up watermelon from Mennonite fruit stand, refreshing this morning. I clean chain on bicycle with paper towel, covered with sand from the trail, will now roll better, I hope easier.
We in basement of old church, so many steep narrow steps to carry all gear up and out the front door. We ready with all packed at 6:10, have prayer and notice Sherri does not have her water bottle on her bicycle. Oh, no, we just locked the front door! Sherri and Giovanna go around church looking for other doors, but pastor very cautious about keeping all locked (this is downtown). Now 6:15 and we breath a sigh of relief when Pastor drives up — just as Sherri pops out the front door waving her water bottle. She found a side door unlocked, locked it from inside, and told Pastor, so it was good she left her water bottle so side door would now be locked. A bad situation turned into a good thing!
Now really off–Sherri, Giovanna and me bicycling, Marie to drive van to next trailhead at Clifton City. The church is only 2 blocks from the Sedalia trailhead, so we bicycle back to the depot. Here is a sign that the Katy trail will be on the street for a while, so onto streets, following Katy drawings on street, plus signs on posts, etc, with arrows. We continue out into country–even hills– remembering yesterday when we got to the high point of the Katy Trail saying we would not have to climb any hills! Four miles later, finally back on Katy Trail although immediately notice how much easier it is to bicycle on pavement as our speed slows and — we are bumping along again on the trail.
Nice to be on trail because of shade from trees and as wind picks up, trees protect us. Sherri and Giovanna go on and I enjoy birds, quiet, breeze. Warmer day, did not start with jacket. Farm country — corn, soybeans, big rolls of grass hay, Black Angus cattle a striking picture stand out as they graze in very green pasture. Cross wooden bridges over creeks, still with the rusty iron RR tall sides. Meet 2 joggers both with dogs on leashes. There are 2 spots with tall rock sides indicating the RR had to blast through these rocky spots to keep rails flat, although trail not really flat, there are slight ups and downs all the way.
Clifton City trailhead at 13 miles. Sherri and Giovanna are here, taking a break, reading history of area on big bulletin board. Giovanni loads my bike onto back carrier which I appreciate and I then drive to next trailhead at Pilot Grove, as Marie bicycling from Clifton City to Pilot Grove, turning right on BB, then right onto 135. Oh, in the “whee” hills again as Del Ehrhardt calls them, up and down steep little hills, curves, speed limit 40-50, double yellow lines most of time. In one spot see about 4 hills in front of me, each top a little above the other, looking like marble steps.
Ok, here is Clifton City, pop 768, where is TH (old railroad). Stop at Casey Store rather than driving around–every TH a different spot in every town. Ok, just a couple more blocks. As am there, Marie arrives on bicycle. Call Meyers via cell (staying with tonight) ,Leave message that we in Boonville approx noon. Now 9:30, still pleasant. Now I bicycle to Boonsville, 16 miles. Marie tells me she read that this section is considered by bicyclists to be the toughest of Katy because of gradual uphill. Oh, great, just what I wanted to hear. However, they are wrong, I found it the same gradual ups and downs as what we had been riding. My speed varying from 5 – 10 mph as slight ups and downs.
Go over long cement bridge with I-70 below. Go through short steel tunnel with a road above.
A sign says Boonville Community Center and wonder if this is where I get off trail. Couple walking tell me main TH still about 3 miles. Catch up to and chat with man walking his recumbant bicycle with a flat tire. He lives in Boonville, out for a short ride, did not bring any tubes, etc., with him, will walk back to his car.
Arrive Boonsville 11:30, this is where we stop this short day. Where is Marie and van, where are Sherry and Giovanna, they typically pass me somewhere. Take a picture of Boonsville depot that looks restored, also a museum here, and I lay down on bench on back– oh, feels so good. Marie arrives and we decide to find the Meyers home and offload our 2 bicycles from carrier, then come back from Sherri and Giovanna when they arrive to avoid having 4 bicyles, putting 2 bicyles inside, which means we have to unload all gear to put them in first.
Easy to find Don and Sharon Meyers home at 1807 Main Street. We stayed with them before, last time 2008, good to see again. Unload bikes and put in garage. Marie goes back for Sherri and Giovanna, and put their bikes in garage. Sharon has prepared lunch for us which we enjoy and appreciate and catch up on their news. Email Keith and Denise where we stay trmo night that we on our way.
We deliberately planned a short day today as at 1 p.m. we on our way to visit the Budweiser Clysdale farm about 10 miles–our tour starts at 2 p.m. (got tickets 2 months ago). We arrive at beautiful green grounds, mile after mile of white pipe fencing, several hundred acres. Into large barn and first watch a short video. Two gals move us through tour, first to see 2 stallions outside and hear their history — they are huge with the typical markings of Clydsdales, their white feet and flowing hair on legs, white blaze on face. This is their breeding location. They have 2 other locations in US. Into barn and hear about mares and babies, and here is a new baby, Otto. We hear about grooming and meet another huge horse with huge horseshoes. We peer into huge 4-horse truck/trailer, hear about hundreds of tours every year by several different teams, training of geldings only for the 8-horse teams, and each horse’s responsibility, drivers and how they handle 8 sets of reins. Of course, end with free Budweiser, and picture time with huge horse who patiently stands for petting and pictures. Tour greatly recommended. Go on line for more info.
Back to Meyers town home on Main and they lead us to their farm home (retired farmers), about 8 miles south where we also stayed overnight 8 years ago. Beautiful spot with large home and well kept mowed green grounds, pond in front, trees. Home is completely furnished and stocked with food, et al, filled with antiques (as is their home in town), many family hand me downs, many that Don has reburnished. Don grills us hamburgers, delicious meal including corn on cob. They back to town home and we have whole house, a bedroom for each (4). Take showers, do laundry, write our journals, and Marie and I spend half hour pouring over map for tmro–mileage, location of THs, difficult driving routes for a couple. Easy to bicycle trail, difficult to drive van. And here it is, 10 p.m. so goodnight all. We grateful for beautiful day, not too hot, safety, wonderful people to take us in again. Meyers both 77, in same class in HS, 60 year HS reunion in a couple weeks.
Day 4, June 12, Boonville to Jefferson City
Up early at farm home of the Meyers 8 miles south of Boonville, packed and heading into town at 5:30. See a beautiful sunrise! We arrive at their town home because we left the bicycles in their garage yesterday. Sherri and Giovanna load their bicycles and Marie takes them to the TH in Boonville where we stopped yesterday. While they are gone, I connect with my tablet and have 10 emails (still making arrangements for overnights down the road). We now have places and showers every night. Showers difficult as most churchs do not have on site; those now all secure at homes! I start working on overnights 3 months before the trip, and as you see, still making arrangments. Then have to keep in touch all along day before, on day calling with expected time of arrival, etc., which changes as day goes on.. Anyway, Marie is back, we load our bikes and finally leave Boonville at 7:30.
We drive to Rocheport (east of Boonville, pop 208), and I am first to bicycle on Katy Trail today; I will go to McBaine, only 8 miles. Marie will drive van there now and leave it for me, and she will get out her bike and bicycle ahead to Hartsburg.
Boonville is where the Missouri River first joins the Katy Trail, so we will be bicycling along the Missouri River now to the Illinois border. We now have totally different scenery with brown/gray wide MO River on right, seen through trees, and on the left are high cliffs of beautiful shades of gray/tan with all kinds of foliage covering most of cliffs–bushes, vines with orange flowers–very lush, dark green, beautiful foliage everywhere. Wearing jacket this a.m. shade from overhead trees.
Oh, a little brown turtle waddling across, whew, missed him/her. A bicyclist fast approaching flies by. Later he comes back from behind me, still working hard, evidently training. Signs along about the Lewis & Clark expedition, as this was the first river they traveled when beginning their
exploration. Cannot figure out strange apparition approaching. Oh, it is a bicyclist who is STANDING UP and pedaling with very long high silver handlebars. Have never seen that before.
Arrive at Hartsburg at 9 a.m. and Marie is still here, expected her to be long gone. No, nothing wrong, it just took a long time to drive here– that long, only 8 miles on Katy Trail? It is now my turn to drive to Hartsburg (16 M on trail), but I wait for Sherri and Giovanna to arrive at 10, good thing as they are out of water. We carry jug in car so filled their bottles.
Now my turn to drive, study map, looks simple enough — L on K to 163, R on 63, R on A to TH at Hartsburg. Would you believe it took me 1 hour to get there! Now I see what Marie was talking about. There are no parallel roads to Katy Trail today so have to make big circle on the “whee” roads where coming up to top you cannot see road going down for afew seconds, so feels like you might fly into space. Speed limit ranges from 35 – 50, as go around many curves with, yes cars behind. Finally find safe spot to turn off and let them all pass. Sorry, guys, but I am not going over the speed limit on these roads — narrow, double yellow lines all the way.
Surprisingly 63 is 4 lane with median and speed limit is 70, and flat! After half hour on slow whee hills, have trouble getting my speed up to even 60 which seems too fast; a speed culture shock.
Arrive at TH in Hartsburg (pop 202), unload bike, lock up van, start rolling bicycle to sidewalk to TH and see that I have a flat on my front wheel! Bummer! Have not had a flat in years! It is now 11 a.m., wait. Sherri first to arrive, followed shortly by Marie, then Giovanni. First things first, as Sherri gets out half watermelon and we finish that off along with lady and little girl from area. Lady gives $20 cash donation…
Marie and I to Jeff City to same bike shop we were in in 1999 when I also had a flat tire (found and directed to by speaking GPS in my phone! I am getting good at this!) . Learned that flat was caused by worn out liner in wheel. This liner keeps the stems from coming through and hitting the tube. Well one stem did come through and punctured the tire from the inside. My bike shop in Grand Junction should have noticed that liner was worn out when they did a checkup in April.
To Jeff City TH to wait for Sherri and Giovanni. They arrive shortly at 2 p.m., and we load all bikes – 2 fellows from Tennessee lifted my bike to roof carrier as it is lightest. Other 3 bikes on back carrier, and we are off to bike shop again for gloves for Giovanna. Over the last 2 days she has lost both.
Finally we are on our way at 3 p.m. to home of Keith and Denise Zeigelbein who live 10 miles south on a farm at Loman. Denise’s parents, Art and Del Eberhardt, first ook us in in 1999 (our 1st trip for HD) when I had sent letter to church (no internet) asking if we could sleep there overnight. The Eberhardts took us to this farm saying we should be sleeping in beds, and they have taken us in every since, probably a dozen times when we have traveled back and forth across middle America to HD converntions. This is now 19 years, so we first met their adult children and little grandchildren who now are grown, married and with children of their own. There were 11 around the dinner table tonight with lots of news to catch up on of their extended family whom we know. Delicious meal including blueberrys picked from garden, and Art 88 came in dusty and dirty from the fields today. You can’t keep a good man down!
Good night all,