The weather gods smiled last week and allowed us to finish a rain-free, relatively cool trip along the 225-mile Katy Trail in Missouri. (See June 3 blog post “Cruisin’ on the Katy Trail.”)
My brother-in-law Jim Finney, cousin-in-law Laura Karr and I started our ride last Thursday (June 11) in Clinton, Mo., the trail’s western terminus, about 45 miles from the Kansas line. We finished on Sunday (June 14) in St. Charles, a suburb of St. Louis.
Severe storms in Clinton the night before the ride’s start had us wondering what the conditions would be on the first day of the ride — 88.8 miles from Clinton to Rocheport. Leaden clouds hovered near, but backed off and gave way to sunshine. The crushed-limestone trail, the former rail bed of the Missouri Kansas and Texas Railroad, drained quickly and only a few damp, soft spots slowed us down. The front that brought the overnight rain also ushered in some cool weather, welcome relief from the stifling humidity that’s standard on the Katy Trail — particularly along the Missouri River — in the summer.
The weather held all four days of the ride. On the second day, we rode about 68 miles from Rocheport to Bluffton, the third day about 45 miles from Bluffton to Augusta and only about 27 miles the last day from Augusta to St. Charles.
Throughout our ride, we were shadowed by a support SUV driven by Laura’s brother, Rick Karr, who drove in from upstate New York to support our ride. Accompanying him was his and Laura’s mother, Jean Karr, who made sandwiches and friends along the way, even finagling a ride in a yellow Model T Ford at one of our rest stops. Jean, who lives in St. Louis, is the aunt of Jim and my wife, Mary Ellen. (See photos from the ride on Photos page on this blog.)
The only mishap — at the end of the ride — was the result of a senior moment on my part. My sister and her husband, Sue and Denny Kaid, had driven from Alton, Ill., to meet us at the end of the ride for lunch in St. Charles. We loaded my gear into the Kaids’ car to provide more room in Rick’s SUV for the drive back to Laura’s house in Ballwin, a western suburb of St. Louis, to get my car. I had left my Subaru Forester in Laura’s driveway before we all drove out to Clinton in Rick’s SUV for the start of the bike ride.
As we pulled into Laura’s street I uttered an expletive as I realized that the keys to my car — parked in Laura’s driveway — were in my bag headed for Alton with my sister Sue. Sue was crossing the Clark Bridge across the Mississippi River to Alton when she received my distress call. She and Denny turned around and drove the 45 miles to Ballwin with my keys.
Jim and I spent that night in Alton at Sue and Denny’s house and the heavy rains came again, throughout much of Missouri and southwestern Illinois, causing flooding in the St. Louis area. We had finished our ride just in time.
Monday’s Alton Telegraph contained an inserted magazine called American Profile, which had an interesting story on the rails-to-trails network around the United States, including the Katy Trail.