The Pedalshift Project 126: Katy Trail, Epilogue – Takeaways and Final Thoughts
The final part in a series of podcasts on my Katy Trail adventure! After sitting with it a few weeks since my return, I have thoughts on everything about the ride… the heat, the rain, the trail surface, and much more. Where does the Katy Trail stand up to other tour routes in the US? I have some thoughts on that!
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This chapter covers day five of my Katy Trail adventure across Missouri. It started in Hermann, MO and continues to Augusta, MO. If you missed the other chapters, they’re at Pedalshift Projects 118, 119, 121 and 123, 124, and 125!
I’m a couple of weeks post-ride and that always helps gather my thoughts on what a tour was like… the lows fall into perspective and the highs tend to rise to the surface.
Amtrak was an excellent way to handle transportation… yes, it was slower, but it helped transition the beginning and end of the tour in a way that compliments the riding so well. I would definitely do it again.
The rides between the train stations and the trailheads were relatively easy, but the St. Louis County side was more “suburban assault” than the west side from Lees Summit to the Rock Island.
I don’t have anything to compare this to, but I think my route — thanks to listeners to prod me to adopt it — is the way to do the ride. It maximizes the west to east ride and only lops off the ends of the Katy. I’ll definitely plan a return trip to finish off those ends though.
Heat: this ended up only being a big issue on the first day, but for anyone tackling the trail in the spring or summer, it has to be your first consideration. If you adapt well to hot rides, the Katy is fantastic. If you struggle in the heat, look to doing the ride in the fall.
Heat: [share email from NM listener regarding low carb eating and heat]
Rain: Considering the forecasts pre-ride, the weather was substantially worse than expected. I had 2 days that were rain-free, and I was caught in two soakers, one that had me scramble for shelter. Over the years I’ve accumulated the right gear for wet riding, and it takes a load off my mind knowing I can trust that everything is staying dry in my bags, even if I’m soaked to the skin in the saddle. My experience is no rain gear keeps you fully dry, but it helps minimize exposure and lets you ride through most rain. Once you get to that median degree of wet, riding in the rain can be a bit of fun. I’m glad I don’t ride exclusively in dry weather… it would be too limiting. Embrace the rain.
Fenders: Fenders approach the level of necessity on non-paved trails for me. They keep muck off you and your bike, and when I see people riding without them in even a little rain, they always regret not having them, to a person.
Hauling food: I love camping and I love cooking, but on tours through places with towns, I’m finding I eat “out” far more than I cook. At some point, I might embrace that and leave the stove and cook kits at home. That might move me to a more “bikepacking” setup. The gear always evolves!
Trail surface: I talked about this a lot in the journals… the Katy trail is soft in the rain, and behaves very similarly to the GAP (i.e. slow and frustrating in spots). But it excels at draining… better than any trail I’ve ever ridden on. Considering how much rain we got, I have nothing but good things to say about the trail. Excellently maintained by the state!
Missouri: I was pleasantly surprised how welcoming Missouri felt as an outsider. Great amenities, interesting history, beautiful wildlife (birds! turtles!) and super friendly, welcoming people.
Where does it rank? Can I offer up two versions on the US bike touring Triple Crown? Arguably the primary would be Pacific Coast, TransAm, and Northern Tier. How about a “2 weeks or less” Mini Triple Crown… Oregon-SF… GAP/CO… Katy Trail. Would love your thoughts!
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