Two great tour journals in one pod! First, I tell the tale of my C&O ride with Belle Starr and then I read a great submission from a listener about her adventures on the Katy Trail. Plus, you never know when emergency fixes can come in handy…
Have some bike touring or overnight stories to share? Send your pics, audio or a quick tweet – all welcome. Email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the lightly-used Pedalshift voicemail line at (202) 930-1109.
The Big Sur bridge is OUT. Rumors of bike crossings clearly not relevant 😉 UPDATE: set to reopen in September!
Newsletter subscribers… my dog’s name is Belle STARR with two R’s. Autocorrect is the bane of my existence and clearly I am simultaneously a poor editor and a bad dog daddy.
Alan Leopold got his day saved by one of the emergency fixes on ep 046!
Hi Tim, I started listening to your podcast a couple weeks ago. Today i was riding our local trail, 400 Trail, and listening to podcast 046 when my rear derailleur broke just as I was listening to your advice. I carry tools and within 15 minutes I was heading back to my truck with a fixed gear bike. I would say that is one of the craziest coincidences I’ve ever ran into. I love your podcast and I’m binge listening to get caught up. Keep up the good work!!
The Journal: C&O plus the Katy Trail by bike
- Trail conditions
- Much harder with extra weight!
- Paw Paw Tunnel update
- Bypass starting in June – Check out Preston Paige’s video as a how to. I ran into him minutes before he recorded this. You can catch a brief glimpse of me and Belle Starr sitting at a distant bench at about 14:10!
- Hotel night
- Less daily mileage – normally do 60 loaded, but super loaded I’d do the whole trail in 4-5 days rather than 3. Much more fun that way.
- Don’t mess with dog’s food too much. She didn’t like the freeze dried stuff on the trail, even though she was fine with it at home.
- Safety first always. I tested and retested this setup a lot. There were tradeoffs for her comfort and her desire to watch me the whole time (seriously… she wouldn’t ride in a trailer because of that!)
- Definitely will ride with her again on multiway trips, but will absolutely dial back my riding expectations!
Katy Trail Tour Journal
Good Morning. I stumbled upon your podcast about 9 months ago and have been catching up on past episodes. I began listening to episode 62 during this mornings 20 minute commute to work.Thought I’d shoot you a quick note to tell you about my recent tour since it relates to two topics discussed on this episode.
I just finished a semi-self supported tour with my dog on the Katy Trail. I’m a Special Education Teacher and my dog, Harley Sue, is a certified service dog. This was our Spring Break adventure. (March 18-26). Harley is a border collie mix, so she weighs a bit more than your pugs. Therefore, my best option for taking her on bike tours is using a bike trailer. We did 60 miles on the Katy in July using a Schwinn children’s bike trailer with the children’s harnesses removed, but the floor is fabric and slanted, giving me concerns about it’s comfort on a a long distance tour. Therefore, I purchased an Aosom Elite Pet Bike trailer on Amazon. I put a nice padded bed in the the trailer and she seemed really comfortable.
The Katy Trail is crushed limestone. It’s a great trail and is typically very well maintained. I live about two hours from the trail so I’ve experienced it in all weather conditions. Spring is one of the tougher times to bike the trail because the winter thaw and spring rains tend to keep it a bit mushy. During the summer the trail dries out enough that it is almost like riding on pavement.
Harley Sue and I started our adventure in Clinton, Mo and finished our first day of biking in Sedalia. (36 miles). I had a friend drop us off in Clinton. She then took our stuff to Sedalia where a few more friends joined her to bike out to meet me in Green Ridge. I typically bike 5 or 6 miles and then let Harley Sue out to run for a mile or so. I typically use a bungee leash to attach Harley’s harness to my seat post. When we were away from roads, and by ourselves on the trail, I let her run beside me off leash. (against the rules)
The beginning section of the Katy Trial is mostly surrounded by grasslands and prairie. The first 9.1 miles are close to a highway before heading into the trees for another 7.5 miles. The recent rains made the trail soft, and crosswinds kept my average speed around 8 mph. (Without carrying all of my own stuff) The marker for the highest elevation on the trail can be found between Windsor and Green Ridge. I did encounter some loose dogs at Windsor. They chased us from the moment we got to town until we arrived at the trail-head and I got off of my bike. Thankfully, Harley was in the trailer during this chase.
The trailheads on The Katy Trail are really nice. They have great descriptions of the history of the area and give a preview of trail highlights that riders should look for as they bike. They have a bench and a roof that provides a bit of protection during mild rain. From November to mid April all of the water is shut off along the trail and many of the bathrooms are closed. They do put portable toilets at most of the trailheads. Also, most restaurants are closed on Monday’s and during the winter season many are only open on Thurs, Friday, Saturday.
The remainder of our tour went well. We battled a headwind ranging from 16 to 27 mph for the first 6 days. Temperatures on our trip ranged from 41 degrees to 87 degrees. We managed to outrun a thunderstorm arriving to the Tebbets Shelter (only one on the trail) moments before the down pour and hail started. I was extremely excited to find that the hostel was stocked with coffee and a coffee pot! I cannot recommend the Tebbets Shelter enough. It has 40 bunk beds, showers, bathrooms, a bicycle repair shop, a kitchen stocked with peanut butter, jelly, bread,coffee, coffee pot, cups, microwave, hot plate, toaster oven, grills, cooking, and eating utensils. All of this for a $6 donation.
I learned that it takes a lot of energy to haul 115lbs on a bike. Way more than I anticipated. Carrying and eating enough food was a challenge. We stayed mostly in hotels or bed and breakfasts so I didn’t carry a tent. But I did carry 4-6 litters of water each day, food for both of us, and clothes for every weather. I even ran out of water on my 42 mile day in 87 degree heat. Thankfully, Cooper’s Landing (campground, small store in Easley) was open so I could purchase water and snacks for my remaining 9 miles.
Harley Sue was a trooper through the whole adventure. However, on day 6 she just seemed off. She didn’t really want to get out of the trailer and run. Thankfully, a friend was meeting me at the trail-head 16 miles away. We battled a 27 mph headwind for 3.5 hours. I’d eaten most of the food I was carrying (1/2 banana left) and arrived at the trail-head with blurry vision, and dizzy. Harley was so excited to see my truck that she ran straight to it and refused to get out for the rest of the day. My friend got me something to eat and took me to a trail-head farther East so that I could finish that days remaining 18 miles with the wind. Harley was feeling better by the next morning and biked with me for all but 6 miles. I spent two days exploring in St. Charles, so Harley could rest and I avoided biking during a day of thunderstorms. We finished the last 12 miles to Machens (end of the trail) on Sunday morning and then made the 4.5 hour trip back to Kansas by car. We biked 241 miles and spent 42 hours on the trail.
It was a memorable experience, but I don’t think I’ll bring Harley on another LONG bike ride. She’s getting up in age (9) and I think the long days on the bike are just a bit too much for her. While she loves going places and being with me; I think she just couldn’t relax enough to get good sleep while I was biking. I took a pop-up kennel with me so she could sleep better at night, but she continues to be tired. She also didn’t want to eat her dog food, but was willing to eat some of my food. I was able to get her eggs at some of the hotels.
Live life to the fullest and enjoy the ride!
Ann Wilhelm and Harley Sue
cyclingthroughlife.com (work in progress)