Archive for July 2012

Pondero

July 30, 2012

Through a happy circumstance, I found out that Chris was going to be in town for a very short time this week.  By even happier circumstance, he had his bike with him.  I had never met him before, but I’ve figured out that this little internet community of bloggers are some pretty good people and neat to know, so I reached out to him in hopes of getting together for a quick ride.  I found out that our opportunities were pretty limited in terms of time, but a Sunday evening ride was doable.  Since Pam wanted to check in with her mother after our week of absence, that provided the perfect opportunity.

Knowing Chris’ penchant for laid back rides and the fact that I only got back into town in the middle of the day, I proposed a leisurely “sunset ride” from Elwood to see what the end-of-day sky had to offer. 

I picked him up from his hotel around 7:00, and we made the short drive to Elwood as we got acquainted.  By the time we got on our bikes and headed west, I could already tell it was going to be a good ride.  Nice weather, good company and the first time back on a bike in a couple of days can’t be beat!

We actually had quite a few clouds around all day, and I knew we probably had a 50/50 chance of either a spectacular sunset or a dud, depending on what those clouds decided to do.  Fortunately, things worked out for us, as it only took a few minutes for the first photo opportunity to show itself!

From there, it only got better!  We kept meandering around, stopping every few minutes as the view and sky changed.

After around 10 miles of stop and start riding, I calculated it was probably time to head back for the truck, then immediately decided to go a little further in hopes of getting a nice final shot of the sinking sun.  It was such a nice evening out, and the countryside was so quiet and peaceful I really hated to go home!  We ended up riding another couple of miles, and were rewarded with these final parting shots.

Because of our dilly-dallying, we had to pick up the pace a little bit on the way back to the truck, and still didn’t make it until full-on dark, but I don’t think either of us minded a bit.  It had been a great evening and I was honored to meet and ride with such a great guy!  Thanks, Chris!

God bless…

TW

So Long KATY

July 28, 2012

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We’re finished!  And, to be honest, we’re both kinda glad.  It was a good trip, but good night!  It seemed like a good idea several weeks ago, but who knew the heat would be as bad as it was….

Thursday evening in Rocheport was very pleasant.  We walked the 1.5 miles from our “dorm room” at the School House B & B to the Les Bourgeois vineyard/winery for dinner and to watch the sunset. 

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They have a bistro on top of a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, and as far as I’m concerned, the sunset view is probably one of the best in the state.  We had dinner, then waited for the sun to sink before walking back to Rocheport.

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On Friday, we got our earliest start of the week, hitting the trail at 6:00 am.  By hitting the trail so early, we enjoyed both the coolness of the dawn as well as an abundance of deer along the trail.  This was the first day we saw any up close.

Day4 015As the sun came up, we were treated to a delightful morning of views along the river between Rocheport and Jefferson City. 

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We were looking forward to our last “station stop” at North Jefferson because we knew we would be a short 12 miles from the truck at that point.  We paused for a quick snack, refilled our water bottles and headed out across what we both agreed to be the most unpleasant leg of the trip because of the exposed trail on the edge of corn and bean fields.

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We arrived back at the truck at exactly noon, and that was just in the nick-of-time since it was getting unpleasant out there again.  We quickly loaded the bikes and headed on to St. Louis for the weekend.

God bless…

TW

Cooling our Jets on the KATY Trail

July 27, 2012

Day3 003 We spent the night last night (Wednesday)  in the historic Bothwell Hotel in Sedalia.  While it was kinda cool, we spent the entire night and morning having to coordinate our movements in order to not run into each other.  Talk about the smallest room ever!

We awoke this morning to thunder and strong storms, but by the time we were ready to hit the road (or trail), it had mostly stopped.

Day3 005 The first couple of miles in Sedalia are on city streets, but once we got onto the trail, we discovered the rain had been enough to make the crushed limestone surface pretty soft in places.  It wasn’t horrible, but once in a while, we could feel our forward motion being sucked away by the soft surface.

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Day3 008It rained on us for a few minutes, but not hardly enough to do more than justifying the rain jacket Pam has been carrying the whole trip! 

Day3 014  Just after it stopped raining, we picked up a couple of dogs who ran with us for awhile.  We presumed their role in life was to escort riders up and down the trail!

Day3 019 Day3 017 Day3 018 We stopped for lunch in Booneville, and lucked into a great sandwich shop.  It was a lucky find, in that we had ridden most of the main drag looking for a likely spot when I spotted a couple of umbrellas in the distance.  We rode on down and found an ice cream shop that also advertised sandwiches.  As we were parking the bikes, Pam asked the mailman who happened to be passing, and he gave the place a hearty recommendation that was enough to sell us.  After a super sandwich, we ordered dessert!

IMG_1823 I think Pam was in shock after her “anyday” was delivered!  I had to help her eat it!

We waddled back to the bikes and set our for our final 15 miles of the day.  The temperature was starting to warm up again, but it remained comfortable all day because of the cloud cover.

Day3 023 Day3 022 The cloudy skies brought out the deeper colors of the hillsides as we approached Rocheport. 

Day3 025 Day3 029Our ride passed all too quickly today, but it was certainly a pleasure to not suffer through the afternoon like we have the past two days.  It seemed like hardly any time had passed before we were passing by the wild sunflowers just around the bend from the Rocheport tunnel. 

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We rolled into town just after 2 pm, grabbed a drink at the little trailside cafe and waited until it was time to check into our room.

God bless…

TW

Still burning the KATY Trail

July 25, 2012

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Well, we should have been in a position to have an easier day on the trail, but  when all was said and done, it was still a struggle.  We expected another hot day, but it ended up exceeding our expectations.  We didn’t check the temperature as we pulled into Sedalia after 50 miles, but when we went to dinner at 6:30, it was 104, so we think it was around there a little earlier.

But, our day started a little grumpy.  When we went to pull the bikes out of the bike shed, Pam’s mirror was missing from her helmet.  What the heck!  Our bikes were the last ones out, so we initially thought it probably just got knocked off.  After a careful search of the shed, we finally decided it had been stolen.  Good grief!

About a mile down the trail, Pam noticed she had something clicking, and upon closer inspection, we found this:

Day2 006 Can you see it?  That’s her mirror hanging between the fork and the wheel!  I guess our faith in fellow travelers was restored!

Day2 008 As I said, we should have had an easier day.  We got out of Rocheport around 8:30, and temperatures were pretty comfortable.  Unfortunately, they were too comfortable.  We ended up playing around a lot!  We couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity at the old clay elevator, could we?

Day2 010  Then, we crossed the Missouri River at Booneville:

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Day2 017  Then, we went off in search of Gatorade.  And took a nice break in the shade and cool breeze!  And stopped for a few pictures along the way!

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By the time we finally got out of town, it was nearly 11:00.  We looked at the maps and decided that Pilot Grove, roughly 11 miles down the road would be a good lunch stop.  It would also be about the half-way point for the day, so we headed there with confidence.

Day2 025 Unfortunately, the riding got a little harder as we left Booneville.  The wind was picking up, and the trail tended to be mostly uphill, so our pace dropped a little bit.  We also had to be a little more careful along this stretch.  The trail has a tendency to crack and split in this hot weather, and we were constantly trying to avoid the wheel-eating cracks.  As you can see from the picture below, some of them were pretty bad!

Day2 030 We did stop for lunch in Pilot Grove, but by the time we left town, we realized it was getting really hot again!  Really hot!

Day2 031 Pam was constantly in touch with her sister and mother by text all day long.  They were vicariously riding with us via the pictures she was sending.  It was kind of fun, but the process continued to slow us down.

Day2 036Day2 037 By mid-afternoon, we knew we were still a ways from Sedalia and the heat was starting to wear on Pam again.  We continued plodding our way along, stopping to take pictures as opportunities arose, but I was concerned about whether she would last.

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Day2 043Day2 048  We finally pulled into Sedalia between 4:30 and 5:00, completely out of water and thirsty as all get out.  We headed straight to our hotel and hit the shower.

At dinner, I rewarded myself for the afternoon of suffering!

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We’re going to try something different tomorrow to see if we can beat the heat and get back to Rocheport before things get too miserable again.  Wish us luck!

God bless…

TW

Burning up the KATY Trail

July 25, 2012

Day1 003What kind of idiot plans a trip down the KATY Trail during the hottest part of the summer?  Furthermore, what kind of idiot starts the ride at noon the day after the region reportedly suffered through 112 degree heat? 

Guilty as charged…but it seemed like a good idea when we planned it several weeks ago!  Actually, it could have been worse.  We survived!

But, to start at the beginning, we’ve had this little trip on the books for a few weeks now.  The plan is to start at Tebbets on the KATY, ride to Sedalia, spend the night, then return.  We’ll stop halfway in Rocheport in between.

We didn’t particularly have an auspicious start, as it was already blazing hot as we got the bikes ready, and we found that the trailhead at Tebbetts was devoid of water!  Eventually, we found a spigot at the back of the Methodist Church, so we at least managed to get started with four full bottles!

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As we headed down the trail, the first few minutes were enough for us to figure out that the shaded portions of the trail were going to be quite a bit more pleasant than the exposed flats.  The good news is that at least we were making our own breeze and as long as we were careful to make our stops in the shade, the temperatures were tolerable, although we knew we were flirting with 100 degrees.

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As we pulled into the North Jefferson trailhead, we noticed an older gentleman walking around.  As we dove under the shade and started the process of refilling our water bottles, he was gracious enough to offer us two cold bottles from his cooler!  You bet we took  him up on that offer!

Day1 013 Earl was down from Iowa with his sons as they rode the trail.  He had dropped them off at Hartsburg and planned to meet them in Tebbetts, but after seeing Tebbetts he came back to meet them at Jefferson.  Unfortunately, we’re pretty sure he missed them because we passed a group of guys standing in the shade not a half mile from the trailhead. 

Day1 018About half-way between Jefferson and Hartsburg, we got our first close look at the Missouri River.  I was honestly expecting it to be lower than it is.  We noticed a few big sand bars, but nothing extreme.  We didn’t see any barge traffic all day, however, so it might be on the low side.

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Hartsburg would be about our half-way point for the day, and we were both starting to crave a cold soft drink and dessert.  You see, we knew there was a decent cafe there, so we used that rabbit to keep us motivated.

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  Day1 029 We pulled into Hartsburg around 3:00, and were disappointed to learn that the nicer cafe was closed.  There was a little bistro/bar open, so we stopped and paid way too much for a fruit plate and drinks.  As we were sitting there, someone walked in and said it was 103 out there.  When we left, we agreed that it was at least that hot!

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Just east of Hartsburg are a series of what I call fish camps along the river.  Mostly populated with trailers and other temporary structures, we just don’t understand how folks live like that.  They’re pretty dumpy, but just outside one of them, we discovered “boathenge”.

Day1 041 We couldn’t fathom what in the world would make someone go to that much work!

Day1 043 By this point, Pam really started struggling with the heat.  We had been trying to drink a lot, but we were getting to the point where her stomach started to revolt every time she took a drink of water.

Day1 047 Day1 048 We stopped and sat a few minutes at the Split Rock Natural Arch, but her stomach wouldn’t settle while we sat, so we mounted up and pointed ourselves in the direction we needed to go.

Day1 052As we pulled into McBaine, Pam spotted a building a few blocks up the highway that looked like a c-store and immediately headed there in search of a Gatorade.  It turned out to be a bar, but they did have Gatorade.  It was exactly what she needed.  She sucked that thing down and immediately started perking up.  Problem solved.  She must have been getting a little dehydrated.  I believe she felt fine the rest of the day.

Day1 057 Day1 058 We stopped to check out the Lewis and Clarke cave.  Pam noticed a nice cool breeze flowing out of it and I was concerned she might not want to leave!

Day1 060Day1 063 At this point, we were just a couple of miles from Rocheport, so we were nearly home.  We pulled in about 6:45 and made a bee-line for our accommodations for the evening.

Day1 067 We did it!  We survived what we knew would be the hardest day of the trip.  The rest should be much easier on us than the 47 miles we rode this afternoon.

God bless…

TW


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