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Ride Report: Geezer Jocks on the Katy Trail part 2

By Bruce Thompson
Radcliff, KY

From Boonville to St Charles
April 2007

Jim at the Burr Oak Tree
  Jim at the Burr Oak Tree - click photo to enlarge
As I was saying before I was interrupted by Mother Nature last October...

A sunny day heals many bad memories. Four sunny days in a row makes you feel like you are in bike touring heaven.

We planned to camp again this time but to save some weight we cut way back on the food we were carrying. In case we were stuck somewhere without access to food I decided to carry one breakfast (oatmeal), one dehydrated dinner, and some trail mix. I also had three liters of water although two would have been sufficient. There are plenty of water supply points. Only the trail mix was gone at the finish. There are places to buy food along the trail but for the first two days we found the selection to often be limited to snacks or canned food like stew or beans. Katfish Katy’s had a few items and some good breakfast biscuits with coffee in the morning. All the places have beverages. You won’t go hungry. This trip was early in the season so more might be available as more bikers hit the trail.

Again we used Lococo House II for our base, only this time we decided to spend the night there before the bike ride rather than after. Consequently we didn’t have to be back on a specific date and we could layover somewhere if the weather turned bad. As usual, Rhona and Leo were very generous hosts who made us feel completely at home. The one night at their B&B, plus shuttle to Boonville on April 18th, plus taxes, cost $241. Rhona also gave us a sandwich when we arrived on the 17th, two sandwiches and fudge for the trail, and allowed us to clean up after the ride. We also had a safe parking spot for the car just a few minutes from the end of the trail in St. Charles.

We pushed off at the Boonville “Depot” at noon on Wednesday, April 18th, and I whispered a quiet “Thank You” to the casino as we passed by. Without their help last October we could have been in trouble. A short run up to the bridge leads to a lane where you can cross safely. The sky was spectacularly blue and cloudless with a moderate headwind providing some resistance. There was a slight coolness to the air so I wore a t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt the whole day. Katy Roundhouse was closed and almost all of Rocheport was closed (it was Wednesday afternoon), so it was good that we weren’t counting on meals there. Later in the season these businesses might be open during the weekdays. I recommend calling ahead if you are counting on their being available. The trail was in excellent condition. In fact for the entire 160 miles we found very few ruts and almost no trash. We generally cruised at 10 to 12 miles per hour and averaged 9.5 mph for the trip. The surface is very flat and hard-packed. Points of interest and trailheads are well marked, well maintained and informative. The state and volunteers are doing a great job.

A Missouri family enjoying the Katy Trail
  A Missouri family enjoying the Katy Trail - click photo to enlarge
We rode 22 miles after the shuttle. Our first night out was at Katfish Katy’s in Huntsdale, where we were the only campers. Our campsite was right on the river in a very clean campsite. We highly recommend Katfish Katy’s for its friendly service, clean showers and grounds, and availability of supplies and food. Towels can be rented for $1. Unfortunately they couldn’t do anything about the 38 degree temperature that night. It was pretty cool….

I started the 19th with four layers on top and my biker’s leggings on bottom, in addition to my regular riding gear. Within a mile or two of the campground is the State Champion Burr Oak Tree. This enormous 350 year old tree was around when George Washington was in diapers and later might have heard Lewis and Clark floating by.

I tried to go into many of the businesses mentioned in The Katy Trail Guidebook to see what kind of food and supplies they provide. The Riverview Traders General store has a unique character and Maggie will greet you with a friendly smile. They had limited snacks available. When we entered Coopers Landing the gentleman behind the counter had his back to us and did not acknowledge us until Jim addressed him. Dotty’s Café in Hartsburg provided us an excellent meat loaf lunch and berry cobbler with ice cream. The Hartsburg bike shop is gone.

After 42 miles of riding on the second day we stayed at the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, surely one of the most unique stopovers on our trip. The key to the place is on a telephone pole outside. You let yourself in and pay $5 a night on the honor system. A reservation is needed if you plan on staying longer than one night. All the sleeping platforms now have pads. There are hot showers, toilets, a microwave and refrigerator, as well as a heating and cooling system. It is not luxurious but it sure beats sleeping in a tent. An attached room has a self-service workshop with a bike stand, some tools and some spare parts. Air for your tires is across the street, from a machine for 75 cents. We had the shelter to ourselves and were only the fifth group to use the facility this year. Take some flip-flops for the shower.

Jim’s Country Store in Tebbetts is open on a very limited basis, if it stays open at all this summer. The owner, Jim Phillips, told us that it just became too much for him to manage the store and bar alone so he is concentrating on his work restoring antique cars in the garage next door. He indicated that he might cook a burger or make a small meal for bicyclists if they can find him, but I would recommend not planning on food at Tebbetts. There is nothing else available.

The next day we covered 55 miles in spectacular weather. Breakfast was at the Mokane Market, just a few miles east of Tebbetts. The store offered breakfast biscuits with coffee and was very well-stocked with groceries and a few fresh fruits and vegetables. When we arrived around 8AM several of the local folks were already there for coffee and conversation about turkey hunting. It is a friendly, welcoming place that we recommend visiting.

Along the way over the four days we saw many Canadian geese, mostly in pairs, using the wetlands for their mating activities. Turtles were also thriving in the sunshine as well as several snakes.

Lunch was at a restaurant in Rhineland, where we called ahead to inquire about B&Bs farther down the trail. Camping opportunities appeared to be limited so we decided to stay inside. I called a couple of B&Bs and got answering machines that suggested they were no longer functioning. Be sure to check ahead of time if you are considering traveling between B&Bs. We hadn’t planned on riding 55 miles to Marthasville but the first place we found that was open was the Little House B&B, which you can see from the trail. It is actually a small house, rather than a room in a house. Breakfast items are in the cabinet and the refrigerator so it is a do-it-yourself meal. About 100 yards away is “H.H. Fortmann & Co.” restaurant, a popular place that serves a variety of excellent sandwiches, beverages and desserts. The B&B and restaurant are highly recommended. Choo-Choo’s is closed and for sale. The bike store is still open. Be sure to see the replica house from Charette Village, the last village with white settlers that Lewis and Clark encountered as they traveled up the Missouri River. We were told that Marthasville is shrinking because FEMA is buying many of the buildings and not allowing anything new to be built. As a result there are many parks in the town. Flooding is a huge part of the history of the Missouri River bottomland and you see reminders of it in many places along the Katy Trail. Levees are a common part of the landscape.

We decided to finish the last 40+ miles of the trail on the last day and didn’t do much sightseeing. It was a very warm and sunny Saturday so there were many people on bikes and on foot. As one would expect, the trail becomes much more urban as you approach St. Charles.

The Katy Trail is the crown jewel of the rails-to-trails system for folks who want a multi-day bicycling venture. It is an opportunity to learn a lot of history, see some beautiful scenery, and meet many nice people in America’s heartland.


Part 1 - Geezer Jocks on the Katy Trail

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