Left Hanging Again

I left you hanging again. I’m sorry. I had intended to write about the remainder of our trip when I returned home. However, only two days after my return my mom passed away and things have become very busy here again.

So let me catch you up…

We left St. Charles on Tuesday and rode west to Herman MO. We had planned to stop in Marthasville to eat pizza at The Philly only to find they were closed. When we arrived in Herman we found lodging at the Hermann Ride, Rest & Go Bicycle Shop. They have rooms beside and above the bike shop. They are advertised as a B&B but they don’t offer a breakfast. Maybe they should just call it a “B”. The elderly couple was managing it for their son who had been called away for military duty. They were very nice people and were doing a good job in spite of appearing a little bit overwhelmed.

After moving our bikes and gear into the rooms we walked down to have dinner at the Concert Hall and Barrel. They were gracious enough to construct me a vegan pizza from ingredients they had listed on their menu. They had mostly meat listed as pizza items but I noticed they had vegetables listed on other menu items such as artichokes, spinach, and peppers so I asked them if they could pile them on and they happily complied. The pizza was very good! So I finally got the pizza I had been craving afterall.

From Herman we rode off and on through the rain until we reached Hartsburg where we pitched our tents under the roof of the town gazebo again. We weren’t lucky enough to catch Deputy Bill this time (more on him later) so we couldn’t arrange for showers, but I was able to wash off the grit and grime from the rain and trail at the sink in the train depot.

From Hartsburg we rode to Pilot Grove where we again camped in the city park. For only $3.00 we had a refreshing dip in the city pool and I washed my clothes in the shower house. I cooked home made spaghetti while John and Wilton ate at the local tavern.

On our last day we rode from Pilot Grove to Sedalia. It was only a 24-mile ride but we took it slow because Wilton’s knee was killing him from nearly two weeks of riding a bike that didn’t fit him properly. Hopefully he didn’t injure it and will be back to riding soon.

In spite of the mechanical issues with Wilton’s trike we had a great bike adventure!

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The Other “F” Word.

Somehow food has managed to become the central theme of this trip.

Yesterday the bike traffic on the trail became heavier and heavier as we approached civilization. In the town of Defiance I had a horrible vegetarian pizza at a road house type restaurant. Since I really wasn’t expecting high quality food from a road house I wasn’t all that surprised. I later stopped and made myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich and the world was right again.

When we made it to St.Charles we checked into a hotel that is conveniently right on the trail and then walked around town looking for food. I had a much better vegetarian pizza at The Trailhead Brewery and drank Trailblazer Blonde beer.

Today we spent most of the day walking around St. Charles because we figured we needed the exercise. We also went in search of and found a few things to use to Macgyver the rack on Wilton’s trike. Along the way we ate some more good food and drank some good beer. For starters, the oatmeal at the hotel restaurant was so good I ate two large bowls. Then for lunch I had a tasty humus sandwich from a bicycle shop and restaurant called the Bike Stop Cafe. For dinner we went back to the Bike Stop Cafe and I had a wonderful spinach salad. Then it was off to Llywelyn’s Pub for Guinness and a really good black bean burger.

Tomorrow we we’ll start riding back west.

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The Katy Trail – A great place to start.

If you want to try your hand at bike touring to see if you like it or whether you are an experienced bike tourer and need to test new equipment before going on a long tour the Katy Trail is a great place to start.

Over the last few days we’ve met several people who are new to bike touring and because of the fun they’ve had riding the Katy they are now inspired to go try longer distance touring. A few days ago we met Sylva and her friend Evelyn. Sylva has ridden the Katy 5 times already staying in B&B’s. This time she brought Evelyn along for her first bike tour. Evelyn said she was having a great time and would definitely go on another bike tour. After talking to Wilton and John and I about tour bikes, destinations and taking time away from work Sylva said she feels ready to start touring self supported. We wish them many happy adventures!

Today we met another lady (we didn’t get her name) that lives just off the trail in Herman. She rides the trail every day over to Rhineland for breakfast but now she wants to broaden her horizons and go on a supported bike tour. She asked me a lot of questions about tour companies, bikes, and equipment. Hopefully she’ll be inspired and go see the world beyond her backyard.

One of the reasons John and Wilton and I came to the Katy this time was to test out some gear before going on a longer tour we are planning. Wilton has a new recumbent trike and some other gear that needs testing and while it might be a pain in the ass to break down on the Katy it would be a much bigger issue to break down in the Saguaro Desert.

It’s a good thing we are taking a 400 mile trial run because from day one we found some serious issues. For now I’ll not mention the bike builder’s name, because I’m hoping he and Wilton can work out a solution for fixing the bike. One issue, the minor one, is that metal on the rear rack is fatiguing. While this is more of an accessory issue and not a frame builder issue I can’t imagine what the shop was thinking when they put that rack on the bike when they knew Wilton was going to load it down with camping gear. Anyway, for the last few days we’ve been looking for temporary fixes to get Wilton through the ride. On Thursday we zip-tied a opened-end wrench on to the side of the rack that was buckling in order to brace it up. That lasted for a little while but today the other side began buckling as well. Luckily when we reached Rhineland we found a farmer’s COOP and John talked a guy in the machine shop into cutting us a piece of steel bar stock to use for a temporary brace. John and I already have ideas for a permanent fix once we get home and it basically means taking a much sturdier rack and modifying the heck out of it.

Now on to the bigger issue, and when I say big I mean pretty big, big enough that in my opinion if this can’t be fixed then the first problem is probably rendered moot. The trike frame is flexing so bad that when we ride behind Wilton it looks like his rear wheel is swinging from side to side like a pendulum! Again, I think this goes back to the manufacturer. I would have hoped when Wilton told him he was going on a long bike tour if he had known the trike’s limitations the guy would have suggested a different frame that could handle the weight better. Now after the fact I hope the guy will trade out the frame or reinforce the frame to make it right.

We are camped near the town of Marthasville between a farmer’s field and a historic log cabin. It’s our third night of free camping. I’m laying in my tent listening to crickets, frogs, and thousands of rounds of semi-automatic gunfire fired by the good ole’ boys down at the river. Ah yes… The sounds of nature!

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It was all about the food today, or the lack of it!

We got up at the buttcrack of dawn this morning and broke camp. While I cooked and ate a yummy quadruple serving of oatmeal John and Wilton had breakfast at the general store. I stopped there after my breakfast, bought a bunch of bananas to eat for snacks, collected John and Wilton and we were on the trail before 8:00 AM.

From Pilot Grove to Boonville we rode in the cool shade under the heavy tree canopy. Occasionally the sun peeked through the trees illuminating wild flowers or the mist rising up from the trail. Riding through the thick tree tunnel that was once a railroad gave the illusion that we were riding through a deep forest. Along with the lush foliage came the songs of all sorts of birds. I saw several Indigo Buntings and a Weatern Bluebird.

When we reached Boonville we headed straight for our favorite cafe for a second breakfast only to discover they had gone out of business. We rode through town searching for another only to discover there weren’t any. I was glad I’d bought the bananas.

After crossing the Missouri River the trail took us through corn fields in the open sun and the day heated up pretty quickly. At Rocheport Wilton and John had planned on eating Barbecue at a restaurant we discovered last year. When we arrived it too had gone out of business. While they went to a hamburger joint I sat in the shade and ate two peanut butter and honey sandwiches. After I had eaten I went to find the guys and they informed me that the burger place had garden burgers. So after eating two peanut butter and honey sandwiches and a veggie burger I felt content and ready to ride.

50 miles and 6 bananas later we arrived in Heartsburg to find Dottie’s Cafe had been sold. The new owner apparently doesn’t realize people like to eat dinner at dinner time and breakfast at breakfast time. They closed at 5:00 PM just as we arrived and the neighbor told us that they don’t open until 12:00 on Fridays! After we pitched our tents in the city park/ gazebo we fired up our stoves and cooked our own food. As I ate my home made Smokey Chipotle Beans with brown rice I was happy that I’d brought my own food on this trip.

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A Much Needed Adventure.

We are on the Katy Trail again. It’s the end of the first day and we are camped in Pilot Grove Missouri. I’m traveling with my best friends John and Wilton. We started late this morning in Sedalia so we pedaled a slow short day. We’ve all been pretty busy this year and haven’t ridden much (more on that later) so nobody objected when we came up with the idea of a short day. Tomorrow we’ll increase our distance to around 50 miles and we’ll probably camp in Heartsburg.

We are carrying a little more food than we usually carry on this trip. From past experience I’ve learned that finding decent food along the Katy is hit and miss. So rather than eat convenience store peanut butter crackers for lunch and dinner we brought our own food. If we happen to find something edible along the way that will be great, if not, we brought our own. That’s alright with me though because I’ve been learning how to cook. So this will be a newish adventure in that I’ll cook and eat real food for a change while I’m traveling. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I know my previous post left you hanging. It was June of last year and Mary and I were about to ride the Katy Trail with a group of our friends. To make a long story short we had to alter our plans due to flooding on the trail. Even though the trip was cut short we still considered it a success. We witnessed Prissy Pam morph into Adventure Pam (She even learned to shit in the woods!); we narrowly kept April from being mistaken for an escapee from a local school for wayward girls; and last but not least John and I had to preform a derailleur-ectomy when Jan’s Burley D’Jango recumbent snagged a log. The derailleur was broken beyond repair and the derailleur hanger was bent at the threads. So for several hundred miles Jan rode a fully loaded recumbent single speed. Her bike’s new nickname became D’Jango, Re-Chained!

After returning from last June’s adventure I went home and got busy cleaning up my dad’s business properties and home so I could sell them. It quickly became a full time job that involved hiring a hazardous waste disposal company, a demolition company, and several work crews to help me. About the time I was wrapping up those projects dad’s health took a dive and I spent an enormous amount of time with dad in numerous ER visits and multiple week-long hospitalizations. In February, a week after he and mom had their 69th wedding anniversary dad passed away. From February until now mom’s health has been steadily going down as well. Shortly after dad’s death we had to move her to a facility that was more capable of providing the care that she needs. We also have hospice on board now and she seems stable. After much discussion with Mary and the nurses I decided it is safe to take a much needed break. Apart from a three day hike we did recently I’ll try to post photos later) all my time has been wrapped in with taking care of my parents for the last year. I’m not complaining, in fact I’m happy that I’ve been able to take care of my parents. It’s just I really need a break and a mini adventure is just the thing I need to take my mind off things and help me deal with the stress. Otherwise they’ll be admitting me to the nursing home as well!

So as I have a connection I’ll try to keep you updated.

More Adventures Ahead!

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A Memorable Memorial Weekend SCT w/Friends

Our friend Bill Wilson started sending out invites to a few of us that have done self-contained bike tours (SCTs) in the past for a tour over Memorial Day weekend.  Those are always fun as you can leave from your doorstep & ride back to your home while getting to explore some of the local lakes.  Kurt already had plans for a guy’s Katy Trail tour that weekend so I decided to go.  My friend, Pam Frank, had never done an SCT but was training for our Katy Trail tour in June, so decided she would go too!  The original plan was to head to the Shawnee Reservoir for the first night, then on to Chandler Lake for a second night, but tornadoes earlier that week to the Shawnee Reservoir necessitated a reroute to Bell Cow Lake in Chandler for Day 1, then on to Guthrie Lake for Day 2.

The main group was to meet up at the Bass Pro in OKC & ride east to meet up with Pam & I who would ride from my house to meet them in Jones.  We got there about 9am & expected them shortly after, but began wondering about them when they didn’t arrive for another hour.   We found out that Judy had gotten a flat on one of her Burley tires which had delayed them.  As they had ridden about 18 miles by that point, they were ready for a rest & snack before heading out.  The group consisted of me & Pam, Bill Wilson, Judy Brookover, Moni Bieser, April McDaniels (the veteran SCTer / aka Amber – the first time SCTer), Tim & Stacy McKinney (with Duncan the wonder dog in tow), Mike Wilp, and Jon Chisum (who would meet up with us that evening in camp).

Bill & April had stopped to get tator tots at Sonic before heading a few yards down the road to the c-store where we awaited them.  As Bill sat happily eating a burger & tots on the picnic bench, Duncan spied his meal longingly as he yelped & sniffed, wanting to try a few bites himself.  Bill tossed him a bite of the burger which he devoured in one gulp, then tossed him a tator tot, which he proceeded to spit out.  Tim tried to give it to him again, but again he spit it out.  At that point Tim tossed it back to Bill who plopped it in his own mouth – yikes!  Or did he?  We didn’t find out til the next day that he harbored a clean tot in the hand that he caught the “Duncan” tot in, and tossed the good one in his mouth then threw the Duncan tot behind him.  An optical illusion that caused Pam & I to squirm & squeal!

Our group headed onward & upward over Hogback hill & on through Luther to Hwy 66, then north on Hwy 177, then on to Bell Cow Lake where we arrived around 2pm to camp for the night.  Moni & Mike rode on into Chandler before reaching camp, so that they could buy supplies for dinner.  After reaching camp Pam reminded us that we could call Jon if we needed him to bring us anything on his way there.  He had ridden Tour de Meers that morning.  We asked her if she would see if he would bring us some beer.  When she called he was still on his way home from the ride so wouldn’t be to Chandler til around 5:30 or 6, but Pam placed our order & told him we’d see him later.  Stacy & I decided that we could ride into town & be back way before he could get there, so off we rode to get some beer & snacks for the group.  It ended up being a 10 mile ride over hill after hill with a pannier full of heavy beer, ice, chips & cookies, but the group was appreciative when we got back, so it was worth all the effort & additional sweat,  I suppose!

The next day we cooked breakfasts of oatmeal, then pressed on to Guthrie.  As we passed through the town of Carney we witnessed some of the devastation caused by the tornadoes earlier in the week.  We headed west on Hwy 105, which was a nice roller coaster of a ride if you enjoy lots & lots of hills.  We stopped briefly at Tim & Stacy’s log cabin house on the outskirts of Guthrie for a potty break before continuing on.  We were never so happy to see the big “B” (Braum’s) sign from the distance as we approached Guthrie.  The topic of discussion for the last several miles had been the juicy burgers that we would be devouring once there.  April/Amber missed lunch with us as her dad (Darrell) stopped just short of Guthrie to pick her up for some festivities that afternoon as they celebrated family birthdays.

We stopped at the Walmart to gather items to cook that night in camp, which was to include the big makeshift “Chopped Champion” contest between me & Tim with April being our judge.  I’d gotten a little insider information that April liked her food hot & spicy, so made sure to get a nice Serrano pepper to add to the cuisine I’d be making.  As Tim stood guard over the bikes, I was able to see what he sent Stacy in to get in the store for his secret ingredients – let’s just say I don’t think I had anything to worry about, Mr. “Mac-N-Cheese” boy!  Tim’s philosophy:  Just add bacon to anything & you have a gourmet meal.  Well, we ended up not having the cook-off when Stacy suggested we call Pizza Hut & have them deliver to the lake.  Sounded like an awesome idea to us.  April added some beer & birthday leftover yummies & a good time was had by all (lucky for Tim)!  Stacy, Judy & Bill added enough comedy to keep us in stitches the whole weekend!

That night was a fitful night for sleep as some of the local juveniles though it would be fun at around 4am to run through camp yelling obscenities to wake up the weary bicyclists.  That was followed about 30 minutes later with a honking drive-thru while more obscenities were yelled from the window.  Then just about the time you were to drift off into REM, Duncan somehow maneuvered opening Tim & Stacy’s tent to get out & bark at a local cat that was ambling through camp.  You had to laugh as you heard Tim yelling at Duncan to shut up & get back in the tent.

Our final day including riding home into a strong headwind with gusts around 35 mph.  We realized quickly that drafting off of someone hauling a trailer proves pretty fruitless, so for the most part everyone had to suffer for themselves.  We all split to go our separate directions as we got to Edmond.  By the time Pam & I reached home we had a wonderful 9mph average for the 28 mile ride from Guthrie – don’t ya just love a strong headwind!  Being the kind & caring tour director that he is, Bill made sure to follow up with each of us to make sure we had made it home safely.  Thanks Bill & all for a memorable Memorial Day Weekend Ride!

*Thanks to Moni for a few of the pics*

Tim & Stacy's Sunscreen for Bill Socializing Moni Windchimes Judy Entertaining Guthrie Lake Guthrie Breakfast Evidence of pizza-beer Duncan Darrell Coolest Fence Carney Tornado Damage Braums Lunch in Guthrie Amber drinking beer

Riding The Old Pathways

After driving through heavy rain in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky we finally got ahead of the storm in West Virginia. So we planned to ride as much as possible on Sunday as well as today.

Yesterday Tim and I did a couple of warmup rides. First we rode 30 miles on the (GAP) Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail starting at the Meyersdale Pennsylvania trailhead. Then we rode 20 miles on the tow path of the C&O Canal starting in Cumberland Maryland.

On the GAP trail we crossed over the Eastern Continental Divide. Actually, to be more accurate, we rode through it! The rail bed went through a tunnel. We rode into the west side and exited on the east side of the divide.

The weather was perfect. We had sunshine and 50 degrees in the morning warming to about 70 in the afternoon. After a quick tour of the old train station, we hit the trail and rode among budding Redbud and cherry trees already in bloom. Just outside Meyersdale we passed a small family grave yard from the late 1800’s.

On the C&O Canal we rode past old canal locks as well as some lock houses. As we rode the tow path with the canal beside us we sometimes saw great views of the Potomac River on our other side. Riding back toward Cumberland offered us a wonderful distant view of the town with it’s many steeples and spires.

Today we rode through thick lush green forest on well maintained singletrack (mountain bike trails) in Delaware. The trails were in perfect condition; hard packed but with just enough moisture to keep them from being dusty. We passed several clear flowing streams as birds who’s sounds were foreign to me sang above us. On one trail we stopped to look at a stone marker on the Mason-Dixon Line.

Tomorrow the rain may catch up with us and so we will ride pavement to avoid mud.

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