Contemplating a ride across Missouri on the KATY

So me and my buddy Jim are always talking on the phone, and many times it’s about cycling. Jim used to be a runner, and I used to just be your general ‘do-enough-activities-to-stay-in-shape’ type. But as we’ve grown older, we’ve found that cycling is easier on the old joints than many other athletic outlets.  Since we were both now cycling, we decided that we should take a trip together. The state between us was Missouri, and it has a great trail across the state, so it was a natural choice.   But a  little background first.

I’ve been riding bikes (as in, picked it up again,) for about 5 years now. When I was a kid, I rode bikes everywhere; and since then, I’ve always had a bike of some sort sitting in the garage- but like most people, never really rode it.  The wife had been going to the gym for over a year, and I finally decided to make an effort to get into a better athletic condition. Not that I sat around…  I still played sports, like softball, soccer, the occasional pick up game of basketball, and I went  hiking and skiing every year… but by and large, I was not in cardio shape at all.  I started going to the gym with the wife, but just stuck to the occasional weight lifting and the elliptical.  I had a friend who did group spin cycle instruction, which I thought was more of a chick thing. But he kept egging me on, and I went up there and took his class.  It was much harder than I thought it would be. I continued taking his class and went 4 times a week to various group ride sessions. I also did some kick boxing sessions and group strength sessions… so now I was in full on fitness mode.

I decided to do some local runs, like a 5k and a 4 mile and was shocked at how much my fitness for running had increased by doing the spin cycle class.  My times for the 5k dropped dramatically.  Where I used to run it in 31 minutes, now I could do it in 25 minutes. ( I never was a good long distance runner. And still aren’t!)  So that experience showed me the value this cycling had.  My brother had been riding bikes and even doing some training instruction for Team in Training, so I thought, “Hey, this might be nice, if I started riding some with him too.”   I extended my cycling from the spin bike, out onto the road. I got my ‘comfort’ Trek Navigator bike out and hit the road. Boy, was that a tough first day. The whole bike was built for being comfortable.  Massive shocks. Massive tubing. Big seat with a cushion spring in the seatpost. It was a smooth ride, but you paid for it in weight. Almost 40 pounds of bike.  Ride that for any distance at high speed, you’ll definitely wear yourself out.  Naturally, I decided to hunt down a road bike to buy.  I found one at my LBS (local bike shop) on consignment, and picked up a 2006 Giant OCR C3 carbon fiber bike at a great (used) price.  Hardly any miles on it, so I was stoked, and thus my adventures on the bike began.  This thing was smooth. So smooth to pedal, hardly any road resistance… I felt like I was on a rocket.  I’ve spent alot of time on that bike since then and done many long rides – long training rides and century rides for fun, too. I even did a couple of sprint triathlons, which were interesting ( I won’t exactly call it fun!)  I picked up a couple more bikes along the way: A different, (lighter) mountain bike called a Gary Fisher Rangitoto, and one that’s considered a touring (traveling) and cyclocross (hybrid mountain) bike blend called a Kona Sutra.

Jim knew I rode bikes, so he kept asking me about it, and he also picked up the sport. He started out with an old mountain bike, quickly went to a road bike, and then just as quickly picked up a touring style bike.  Jim used to work in a bike shop building wheels when he was a kid, so he was fairly comfortable with working on them.  He built his ride up for travelling, and I piddled around trying to find the right ride and finally got mine, along with a travel trailer – a B.O.B. Yak – which is a nice single wheel tow rig. This brings us to my Adventure Across Missouri with JimRe.

It really didn’t take much contemplation.  As I said at the beginning, it was a well known trail, lauded by many, that goes nearly all the way across Missouri. Since I live in Kansas, and he in Illinois, it couldn’t have been any better of a fit for two guys trying to get a quick bike vacation in, between work and family commitments. Being the researchers we are, we started checking things out about the KATY and what the towns along the trail had to offer. Even with as much reading about the trail that I did, you can’t really get the full grasp of how the ride may play out. Especially since neither of us had ever done a multi day ride. So one thing I hope to accomplish in telling you about this trip is how to avoid some of the complications that we ran into.

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