Day 110-111 • June 19-20, 2012 • Hermann to Dutzow, MO • 31 miles
Today was our last day on the Katy and the Adventure Cycling Lewis and Clark route. It was a good run but we were ready to be back on pavement. I’d estimate we lose about 4 MPH on the crushed limestone; with a typical speed in only the low teens that’s a pretty big hit. No doubt heat in the mid nineties and high humidity didn’t help our outlook just now. With our heavy weight and with five tire tracks instead of one I’m sure we’re hit particularly hard by the soft surface but we talked to a number of touring cyclists on the trail and most of them had a similar sentiment. We felt somewhat compelled to stick to the trail even when it paralleled a nice road because the Katy is so well known that some motorists aren’t real tolerant of cyclists who don’t use it. This is really an issue of motorist education but in this sense an unpaved trail like the Katy can be a net loss to a cyclist whose primary goal is transportation.
We saw this sign along the trail. After reading it many times I’m still not sure I understand it. Maybe the trail runs through a bombing range? Someone’s hemp field? I think it says there are some nearby landowners who are really pissed off that a right of way they once used as if it were their own is now filled with pesky cyclists and pedestrians, and if you loiter too long you risk being shot. At least that was the situation in a couple of places in Idaho as the Weiser River Trail was developed. At one place along that rail trail there is a home made sign that says something like “The Weiser River Trail ruined my life.”
In Marthasville we stopped for an obligatory frozen treat at Choo Choo’s, a shaved ice shop alongside the trail, built into the end of an old train caboose. We chatted with some local farmers who were horrified that we were planning to cross the Missouri into the town of Washington on Highway 47. They described a pretty sketchy situation of narrow bridge, fast traffic, and big trucks with a couple cautionary tales of bike rides gone bad on that bridge. I was pretty sure we’d seen worse and planned to handle it the only way possible, short of skipping it somehow, by taking the lane and letting traffic back up behind us until we get to the other side and can pull off to let it pass. This may piss off some motorists but a line of slow moving cars behind you makes a pretty good safety barrier. That first car to encounter you is a bigger issue but fortunately bridges are straight and we’re quite visible; if you make it clear you’re in the lane they will slow down behind you. The farmers offered to drive us over the bridge, pretty gracious considering we were still nearly ten miles out, but I assured them we’d be fine. But I admit it didn’t sound fun.
Shortly after reaching Dutzow, our last stop on the Katy, the farmers drove up in a pickup ready to take us over the bridge! But by that time I’d already decided to skip it. I’d been in contact with my friend Thad who would be hosting us tonight. He’d commandeered a Suburban to haul us to his home in Fenton, MO because Zoe and I had already decided we didn’t want to deal with the traffic. Given that, Thad could just as easily pick us up on the west side of the river and we could avoid the problem altogether. We thanked the farmers and waited for Thad to arrive.
The original plan was to pick up the Adventure Cycling Great Rivers route at Dutzow, which takes us over the Missouri as described above, and then do some of our own routing to connect it with the TransAmerica route in Farmington, MO. But we also wanted to see Thad in Fenton, maybe 40 miles off route, and after our experience on Highway 50 I was a little leery of self-planned highway travel around here. So the new plan was to just let Thad grab us off the Katy and deposit us on route in Farmington a couple of days later. We owe Thad a huge thanks for scoring the use of the Suburban and carting us around Missouri.
We had a great time hanging out with Thad and his wife Kathy and their two dogs Lila and Luke. Thad is another cohort from my Topeka childhood who I hadn’t seen in a long time, we had lots of catching up to do. His boss allowed him to wipe his calendar and spend the next day hanging with us, even scoring some quality pool time at their next door neighbor’s house. Thad and Kathy live in a beautiful neighborhood next to a forested area and play host to a wide variety of wildlife that they can describe in great detail. Today they added tri-cyclists to their sightings.
For years Thad has been a balloon artist. This sounded pretty cool and all, the guy making swords and hats at children’s parties, right? I had no idea. His portfolio of balloon creations is stunning. It was fascinating to watch him whip up another feline companion for Zoe. Unfortunately the lion just wasn’t up to the rigors of trike travel so we had to leave him at home. Slash and Willie were bummed.