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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Phase 5, Day 4. Logan-Beaver, WV

79 miles. Should have been much easier but the over 6000' of steep climbing made it a grind. 

West Virginia mountains. Better to see it yourself. 
Beaver Creek coal mine. Most hard work far below ground. 
Orchard Hill Rd.   Who wouldn't wanna ride a bike?
Coal is alive and well in Southern West Virginia. I spent most of the day among the coal mines, the coal communities and sharing the road with the giant coal carriers. 

Riding conditions in WV are not as pristine at they were in KY. Sure, some newer roads have nice wide shoulders but most country roads have little to no riding shoulder and the road surface is often full of cracks, holes, loose rocks and bits of coal. 

Leaving Logan at sunrise and heading southeast to follow the Guyandotte River soon was distressed to discover my little country road a nightmare. The main highway I tried to avoid was closed so all the traffic, trucks, and everyone else was on MY road. A harrowing first hour, but at least it was only 7am.  Reaching Man, WV I turned up the Buffalo Creek Canyon and things soon improved. 

The economy, and quality of life, seems much improved since leaving KY yesterday. Now back into tidy communities...but they still like their Dollar General. 

Coal mining is dangerous business.  I saw many memorials, roads and bridges dedicated to nearby tragedies. I spent an hour following Buffalo Creek all the way to its origin and passed 20 miles of rural communities that were all wiped out in the Buffalo Creek Disaster of 1972 when a dam burst at the top of the valley. The huge wall of mining slurry and mud killed 125 and demolished most of the towns I went through. Crites, Latrobe, Braeholm, Accoville and Kistler...all gone. The people eventually came back and rebuilt with no sign of the tragedy left today but they are still talking about it, and I don't blame them.  

The coal mines are massive sometimes mile-long factories. The miners work underground, 1500' one miner told me, and use heavy equipment to breakdown the coal seam, then the loose coal rides along miles of conveyor belts to a central site outside where it's loaded onto trucks and trains. I was surrounded today by big men driving big trucks and wondered what they made of my flimsy rig. Surprised to find out the drivers, even the enormous coal carrier guys, would slow down to pass safely and often give me a wave or horn blast. When I stopped to check the routing at the top of Buffalo Creek one dude even pulled over to see if I needed help with directions. 

At dinner in Logan last night I spoke to a nice couple, Greg and (I don't recall her name). We talked about coal mining and Greg had a look at my routing for today. 4 hours into my day Greg pulled up in his work truck and stopped to check on me. We talked some more and then he got back to work....and so did I. 

Lots of climbing. Highway engineers in WV don't bother keeping the grade at 6% like most places, I was climbing 9-10% grades for miles today. Substantially steeper. Topped out at 3500' at one pass.  

Southern West Virginia is one of the most scenic places I have ever seen and unlike anywhere I've ever been. It's hard to describe but it's gorgeous. If you've been here you know what I mean, if you haven't I highly recommend. 

I left the big hills and coal trucks behind and coasted downhill toward Beckley and neighboring Beaver, WV where today's ride ends. Now I must get back to being a responsible adult but I plan to return to Beaver on or about Aug 29 to continue this journey. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Phase 5, Day 3. W. Liberty, KY-Logan, WV


110 miles. Lots of up and down. Fabulous. 


Rail Trail in East KY?  For an hour? 

Loretta Lynn born here. Now a museum but closed on Sunday like everything else around here. 

West Virginia. 11th state of this journey.

Another rest stop. Hour 6. Thanks coach!  Pro tip: Always check for ticks when done.. 
Tonight's hotel, and Cinema 8, in an old quarry. 

Final score: Ben-8, Dirty Dogs-0. Offense is the best Defense, right? 

Great day with a little bit of everything. Once again out early and riding in and out of foggy valleys. Sunday mornings even better than Saturdays when riding in the Bible Belt. 

Followed Carney Creek for an hour then turned NE to join, if you can believe this (in Eastern Kentucky) a beautiful rail-to-trail route for about 18 miles. The Dawkins Line Trail (an abandoned coal rail) is not paved but crushed limestone which was much like last year's Missouri crossing on the Katy trail..great! Through a few narrow passes and over many rivers. Didn't see anyone for the hour+, certainly no cyclists, but it was really nice. I stopped to take some pictures and then decided to enjoy the moment and listen to the birds for 10 minutes. 

Speaking of that, with a very long day ahead, such as today, I struggle with a strategy so that I can enjoy it without wiping myself out. My style of riding, no matter how far, is to just go until I run out of gas. My clever wife Carrie suggested maybe I should stop to rest every couple of hours. Stop? Huh, never thought of that. I did and it worked great. Even ended the long day with some gas in the tank. Thanks Coach!

At Haverhill, KY crossed the Levisa Fork (tributary to Ohio River) bridge and into West Virginia. Still looking for signs of Coal Country I soon found it in Odds, WV...Loretta Lynn's birthplace. Must be officially in coal country now.

I love the unexpected historic nuggets along the way. Yesterday was Daniel Boone Nat'l Forest, today Coal Miner's Daughter. Tomorrow? 

The hills are getting bigger and canyons much deeper, but always so green covered with thick forests. The fall colors in WV must be amazing. 

Folks in Eastern Kentucky, I found, to be quite reserved and not approachable. I always said Hello but it never sparked a conversation. The West Virginia mood is much more upbeat. I noticed many WV families, on this Sunday afternoon, outside enjoying the day together...often saying hello and waving to me as I passed by. 

I spent the last couple of days riding through one of the poorest regions of the country. In most towns there is nothing left but a gas station/convenience store. The bigger towns consistently had the same businesses: Dollar General, McDonalds, and sometimes Family Dollar was across the road. That's it. There is nothing else left. I imagine the people struggle mightily and perhaps that's why they don't say much to a goofy stranger on a bike. 

One guy, about my age, sparked up a Hello during my fuel stop in Salyersviile, KY. "Where ya'll headed?"  "To the sea." I said. "I never seen no ocean. I bet it's nice...my wife went once."

This journey across the country has opened my eyes in many ways. The people of Eastern Kentucky struggle, there is no doubt, and sadly there seems little hope for them. Spending a few days among the underprivileged, again, reminds me to be thankful for what I have. 

Tomorrow to Beaver, WV. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Phase 5, Day 2. Lexington-West Liberty, KY

85 miles.  The weather cooperated and so did most of the dogs.

Spent most of the day doing this....


....and this too.
We don't need no fancy sign!
Poured down rain all night but woke to dry weather and a nice tailwind all day. 

As I have said, riding early on a weekend morning is the best. Everyone is still sleeping and leaving Lexington at 630am on a Saturday was sublime. Not a soul. 

Eventually left horse country and at about 40 miles it began to get much more hilly. The Appalachian region is not well defined geographically, I haven't reached the mountains yet but today was spent going up and down substantial hills entering what's known as the Appalachian Plateau. It's very scenic and lush with cattle farms dotting the many valleys. 

Highway 460 runs straight along today's route but I searched for quiet back roads for much of the day. Eventually the road would always rejoin 460 but then I would soon get to another country road and go that way for an hour. Today's biggest challenge? Dogs. I had some farm dog encounters in Indiana but they seemed tame compared to Eastern Kentucky's Junk Yard Dogs. Nasty looking things. Approaching a farm house I learned to keep an eye out for the dog so I would see him first. Also, no freewheeling past the farm house...that bicycle clicky-clack when coasting was a sure giveaway. I had to get up to speed and peddle hard so he had little chance of matching my speed once he spotted me. 

You know those decals the WW2 ace pilots stuck on their planes to show how many shoot-downs they had?  I'm thinking of getting little doggy stickers for my bike now. 

Must say Route 460, a busy highway with no dogs, was a nice respite but I soon got bored with that and went in for more exciting action at the next road just to enjoy the scenery and (mostly) relaxing riding. 

I noticed today at each stop for a drink or snack the local accent gets thicker and thicker. It's hard for me to understand the real locals...they probably think the same about me. 

Stopped for an ice cream at the general store in Grassy Creek. They have ice cream, drinks, gas...bullets, and horseshoes too. What more could I guy need?  

Staying in West Liberty, KY. Not much in West Liberty but it's the only hotel within 1/2 day riding so it will have to do. 

Tomorrow is a big day for me. 110 miles with 7000 feet of climbing on the way to Logan, West Virginia. I wonder how many dog races I'll have.




Friday, July 7, 2017

Phase 5, Day 1. Louisville-Lexington, KY.

90 miles.  Hot and humid but a good warm up. 

Just don't say "Looeyville"

Fog lifting. 

Another fancy barn for the fancy horses. 

Lots of Distilleries along the crick. 

Great day to begin the last phase. I was hampered a bit all day with Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman" going round-and-round in my head. Aaargh!!

Anyway, so fun to get out and continue the adventure. The day-to-day routine is so well established now that I don't spend time fretting about it in the morning. I just get up, have a coffee, and go. Most critical is to get out of town as early as possible to avoid the traffic. 

Super foggy in Louisville at 6am and didn't take long to find the back country roads but spent about 3 hours riding in and out of thick fog through, what I imagined to be but couldn't see, nice countryside. Eventually the fog burned off, the sun came out, and it was green grass everywhere! Kentucky bluegrass I would guess. 

This is horse country of course, and the countryside is covered with manicured grassy pastures surrounded by miles of wooden fence, sometimes white, sometimes black, covering rolling hills as far as you can ride. I don't know anything about horses but I would think this is a sweet spot if you do.  

When planning these rides I spend a lot of time sitting with maps and Google Street View to find the best routing and the coolest country roads that look quiet and smooth. The planning paid off. It's hard to avoid all the traffic but I did well today. Between Frankfurt and Versailles there was a particularly great 15 mile stretch along McCracken Pike following Glenns Creek. Beautiful riding under the thick canopy of trees. Passed a lot of bourbon distilleries along the creek...some long ago abandoned and some newer massive operations.  All very quiet though. 

Along McCracken Pike I also passed a few neglected rural communities with what appeared to be abandoned houses, but they were not.  Started to notice guys sitting on their collapsing front porches. Did a double take the first time and waved, he waved back. I waved to the all the hillbillies (can we still say that?) and they always waved back. 

At about my midway point today rolled into Frankfurt. Frankfurt is nice. It's the state capital but seems pretty low key to me. I did a quick spin through town and in 3 minutes saw both the old, and new, state buildings. Super quiet downtown, so quiet in fact that I searched and searched for a store to buy some water and struck out, so...this is a first..I had to ask for directions to a convenience store. In the state capital?  Yep. 

Eventually the sun warmed things up to 91 with, I would guess, 80% humidity. Not a problem until you stop moving...then the sweat starts to pour. That Frankfurt water was a good idea.  

Staying in Lexington tonight and got caught on some busy roads. I can avoid the busy roads all day until I get close to the hotel which is always on a busy road. Lexington seems fine and hosts University of Kentucky. University towns usually sport more bike friendly roads but not Lexington. I resorted to riding on the sidewalk for 3 miles at one point. You can get a ticket for that in California but there is no other safe option in Lexington. Visited the last bike shop I will see for the next few days...didn't need anything, just felt like I should visit. 

Tomorrow we (the bike and me) leave the big city, thankfully, and head into rural eastern Kentucky. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Phase 4, Day 7. Tell City, IN-Louisville, KY


102 miles.  A great day to finish Phase 4.

Crossed the Ohio River into the Commonwealth of Kentucky at mile 2..then back to Indiana at mile 50 and back again to Kentucky at mile 99. Went across 3 time zones today....on a bike!

After leaving Tell City immediately the fields end and the hills begin. Quite hilly actually. It's very wooded with pastures and dairy farms scattered here and there, everything so green, but the rows of corn are all gone. Too hilly here I suppose.

I traversed a 50 mile wide bend in the river through rural Kentucky, crossed back into Indiana at the Brandenburg Bridge to follow the Indiana side of the river bank until I was abeam Louisville..then back across again.

It was a great day to end the week. Ended on a real high note as a matter of fact. I found some more random back roads and they were perfect. Up and down for 70 miles so it was all a bit slow but I had the roads to myself and enjoyed the day. Kentucky roads are the best I've seen. So well maintained.  From a cyclist's perspective California and New Jersey roads are terrible, Hawaii is better than most, but Kentucky is exceptional. All the roads I spent time on, even the most random back road, is newly paved, clean, even the grass along the edge is neatly mowed. Unreal.





About midway stopped for a drink at a roadside market in the middle of nowhere. It was a very interesting Mennonite general store. Of course I didn't realize until I walked in but right away it was obvious. Church hymns playing on the loud speaker and bonneted women quietly stocking and cleaning shelves. It was a bit like walking into, well, church. What they had was basic but certainly supplied the community's needs. I had a look around. Lots of raw ingredients for baking and cooking, many shelves of diet supplements, some basic tools, a whole aisle of sweets in bags (not commercial candy), simple toys, bonnets and straw hats and all the rest. I would have bought a hat, $8.99, but had no way to carry it home. Bummer. They did have a limited soda supply so I was happy. The nice woman asked me about my bike ride, quickly put together a "2016 Biker Log" for me to sign, and then as I was out front getting ready to roll she came out with a nice little gift for me. Glad I stopped at that shop.





The last 2 miles was a fitting way to finish. The bridge crossing the Ohio from Jeffersonville, IN to Louisville, KY is the most enormous and elegant rails-to-trails bridge you could imagine. 1 mile of steel bridge dedicated to bikes and walkers (and there were many on a Monday afternoon) with piped in classical music playing 

over loudspeakers during the crossing. Felt like a bit of a ceremony for me crossing the river. Soon found the Marriott and grabbed my street clothes I had shipped from KC to call it done.

This has been another week of exploring small town America. I like small town America. Each comunity has its own charm, some more than others, but while crossing the country I've, sadly, come across so many communities on the decline and will be gone when the current generation isn't there to turn on the lights. They are all unique and with few exceptions I can say small town Americans are sweet and generous people. American cities are so homogenized now...there's little difference, say, between Louisville (as nice as it is) and Kansas City any more, but small towns stay unique and unaffected by "progress"..except that they are dying. 
Coolest bike bridge ever!
Loo-vel, Kentucky. 


Most of the time these rides go as planned but occasionally I am faced with a situation that tests the limits of my spirit. This week's Day 1 was that test. Sick as a dog and facing a day riding in the cold rain and wind was a tough one for me. I've had other tough days during this journey but I do my best to stay positive and go to bed knowing the next day will be a good one. That nearly always works.

If all goes well Phase 5 to Virginia and the Atlantic Coast, will commence next year.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Phase 4, Day 6. Princeton - Tell City, IN


78 miles. Took the scenic route.

Got the heck out of creepy Princeton at 630am well before the rest of 'em woke up and soon was back on familiar ground and tooling though the pretty countryside.  Early Sunday morning is always the best time of the week to ride a bike...especially in the Bible Belt.

Because I didn't have to cover so many miles today and had a ton of extra time I figured it would be nice to find a very random back road route. Paved roads, sometimes barely, crisscross the landscape in a 1 mile grid pattern so options are many. If the road ends at a wood or creek then things meander around a bit until the road can continue straight again. It made for a fun tour. In fact, if I was ever going to plan a scenic bike ride through southern Indiana I would do the exact same thing. It was gorgeous.

I don't navigate with GPS, I sit down with a map and make notes on paper about turn cues. I like basic..it's reliable. Works great most of the time, waterproof, and doesn't require batteries. Sometimes the road names aren't marked or the road name is different than on my notes requiring a stop to check the road map. Occasionally I'm stumped and go with the gut. That nearly always works but when it doesn't I soon discover something else interesting...like a massive open pit mine.



"Good for gettin' shit done!  Bike rack included"
A day of this. Very nice. 

Today mostly wandered up and down slightly hillier slopes and between empty fields (where's the corn?), through thick woods, past many farms, an occasional small lake and the pit mine.

Farm dogs are predictable. They always give you a warning shot, one loud bark, and then the race is on. It's not hard to outrun them, unless they catch me on the uphill, and even then I know farm dogs are always out of shape and at 10 seconds they run out of gas and give up. Happens every time. They're good at doing their job though. I imagine they trot on back to the house with their doggie chest all puffed out. "You guys see that? That's how ya do it!"


Tell City city hall. 

At about mile 50 picked up the first good tailwind of the week and the last hour flew past. Destination today is Tell City, IN on the banks of the Ohio River.  Tell City was settled by Swiss immigrants and named after their Swiss folk hero William Tell. Of course Walmart is down the road but Tell City has outsmarted them with a nice repurposed riverside warehouse district featuring brewpub/restaurant/shopping that makes for a lively place...even on a Sunday afternoon when everything else in Indiana is shut. Tell City is hopping and it's a perfect place to enjoy a warm Sunday afternoon. I even washed the bike...looks like brand new again.  Wet riding and the Katy Trail dust took a toll.

Tomorrow 100 miles to Louisville, KY (say Loo-ville) and the end of this week's adventure. The route crosses the Ohio River a couple of times in and out of Kentucky, and then back in again to Louisville.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Phase 4, Day 5. Cambria, IL-Princeton, IN


103 miles.  A pretty casual day at just under 6 hours on the bike. 






Navigation sure was easy.  The first turn?  Mile 68.  Counties changed names twice, the road changed names many times but still on the same dead-straight strip of road watching the corn grow for 4 hours. I've never been so excited to make a turn before. 





Actually, I did swing into West Salem for a sandwich.  A nice little town with neat and tidy houses but all the stores were shut. The downtown plaza was a ghost town and all the businesses had boarded up and gone years ago.  It was eerie. Still looking for my sandwich I stopped to talk a man working in his front garden. "Where did everyone go?" He said they all were run out of business when Walmart opened 20 miles down the road in Princeton...except the grocer.  He's in jail for selling meth laced cookies. I decided to forget about the sandwich.

It was the same scene today as yesterday only slightly hillier. Very pretty. Started a bit wet (hunkered down under a church awning to get out of one shower..lots and lots of churches around) but it soon dried out and warmed up.




Southern Illinois is bordered to its west by the Mississippi River and the east the Wabash River. The rivers join at the south end of the state. I eventually crossed the Wabash River and rolled into Indiana and very soon Princeton, home to a Toyota assembly plant and this town's largest employer. Perhaps it's just this particular town, I'm not sure, but the locals here seem VERY different than on the other side of the Wabash. Face piercings, missing teeth and XXXL t-shirts are all in vogue in Princeton. All I've seen so far are strip malls, fast food joints....and, oh yes, Walmart.

Tomorrow we will see if Princeton is an anomaly as we ride to Tell City, IN on the Ohio River. Tomorrow is the short day of the week at 70 miles. I think I'll bug out of Princeton early and then have time to check out Tell City...might be better.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Phase 4, Day 4. St Charles, MO- Cambria, IL


117 miles.  Rural southern Illinois is beautiful. 

I hit the Katy Trail for one last fling and discovered the last 14 miles east of St Charles is not very popular or well maintained. I passed the "Low Point 470ft" sign and had to walk the bike through what seemed to be a recently flooded area. Not wet but the trail was washed out. The other 200+ miles of Katy Trail west of St Charles is highly recommended however.

I gave St Louis a wide berth to the north and found my way to the nearest bridge to take me across the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois.  Riding a bike over a major highway bridge is always a gamble. I check if bikes are allowed but never certain how sketchy things might be. I was happy and bit surprised to see an actual bike lane on this bridge. Crossing the river was quite a milestone for me...a sort of west-to-east transition.  I know the bike has taken me a long way but crossing the mighty Mississippi felt like a real accomplishment.

I read a book in college 
that has stuck with me. "Old Glory" is an incredible story of John Raban's experience guiding his tiny aluminum outboard motor boat from Minnesota to Louisiana down the entire length of the Mississippi. I was amazed how a guy with just a tiny boat and a bit of ambition could have such an incredible adventure. I thought of John during the 10 miles riding along the river levee bike path past the enormous locks that he described so well.

Rails-to-Trails programs are big here. There are a lot of abandoned rail lines and now, thankfully, there are a lot of bike trails that follow them...mostly paved. So nice to spend another 25 miles on more glorious bike paths eventually ending up in Marine, Illinois. A random place out in the middle of corn country but what the heck.  It was a good ride.

From Marine it was another wig-wag through the most beautiful countryside. I try not to have expectations when visiting a new spot. I don't know what you imagine southern Illinois to be like but it blew me away. Gently rolling hills with wooded areas and silos dotting the horizon. Bright and full of color. It looked like a painting.

About 40 miles on country backroads was quiet and serene. The planning was good except for a 1 mile stretch on deep graveled Beaver Rd.  Don't know how I missed that with the planning but I enjoyed the walking and made friends with a lost possum who was clearly in the wrong time zone.

When you are riding a bike along a rural road the drivers sometimes wave, sometimes don't. When I'm somewhere new I don't wave first..I like to test the waving climate. In Wyoming they liked to wave, Nebraska too.  Kansas and Missouri didn't have much waving. Now in Illinois we're back to waving again. I like the wave...sort of like they're saying "Hey! Welcome". At least that's how I imagine it.

Staying in Cambria, IL. Population 13,000, and "Home to James Brady" the sign says.  Cambria is a farm town of good size and as usual the folks are very friendly. It's a very American Mom-and-Apple Pie sort of place.  I like Cambria.

Tomorrow another 100 miler to Princeton, Indiana. What? We're already done with Illinois?  I was really liking it here. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Phase 4, Day 3. Jefferson City-St. Charles, MO

114 miles. 110 of it on an unpaved road. 

Jefferson City was blanketed by thick fog when I rolled down the hill toward the river. All the same folks driving home from work in a hurry yesterday were back and going my way again. Yikes!  Thankfully it was a short 4 miles to get to the bridge and the start of my day on the Katy Trail. 

Good morning Jefferson City!

Until yesterday I'd never ridden the bike more than 10 miles on a gravel road...let alone 110 miles. Yesterday's 60 mile test run was positive so off I went. I quickly learned not to expect my normal pace of 15-16 mph (it wore me down a bit yesterday) and throttled back to 14 mph...a nice relaxing pace. 

8 hours on the same road might sound mind numbing but it was an amazing and unique day. Nothing like I've had before. Constant beautiful scenery drifted past.  Wildlife everywhere and most of the trail is far from any roads. About every 15 miles a little hamlet would appear. At first they were mostly abandoned but as I got nearer to St. Charles the small communities began to seem more lively and near the end they were downright charming. These communities were built around the railroad but when the R/R abandoned the line in the 1980s there was no more commerce. The small towns closer to the city figured out a new way to make money...cyclists.  

The Katy Trail is a sort of crossroads for cross-country cyclists riding along established coast-to-coast bike routes (yes, that's a thing) and it was super fun to talk to other folks riding to/from L.A., Seattle, Chicago, D.C.... We shared fun adventure stories at many of the tiny towns' bike shelter/mini train depot that seems to be the default resting spot. 




I'm bad at eating. (Those of you who know me will find that hard to believe). I don't want to stop and take the time to order food and eat it but on days like today it always bites me in the butt near the end. Today I made a point of grabbing a sandwich or an ice cream or a "pop" every hour. It worked!  Imagine that. If you still have to pee at mile 105 you've done something right that day. 




Staying in St Charles tonight, near St Louis. St Charles is really nice with the brick downtown and fancy restaurants. I would imagine an expensive place to live.  

Tomorrow we say goodby to the Katy Trail...I think there's another 10 miles to go...and also to Missouri, to cross the Mississippi River and explore southern Illinois for the day. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Phase 4, Day 2. Marshall-Jefferson City, MO

Marshall-Jefferson City, MO.  94 miles. 


What a difference a day makes!  Woke up to sunny weather...cool but sunny. Eventually it warmed up to 68F and it felt good to be riding in shorts and short sleeves. I hope I didn't jinx myself...I stopped at the Boonville post office to mail home some of my cold weather riding gear in an effort to lighten the load. I am obsessed with a minimal load and anything that's not useful has to go. 

The first couple of hours was a wig-wag through the rolling Missouri countryside.  Mostly paved roads but some gravel. It's very scenic, green and lush and spring-like. I noticed many barns sporting a large decorative quilt motif.  I asked a local and he tells me it's the "Barn quilts of Cooper County" program. They are very proud of their barn quilts. Big quilting area in Cooper County. 


Barn Quilts of Cooper County

The master plan of this week's ride was to spend 200 miles on the Katy Trail, America's longest rails-to-trails effort.  "Katy" is an acronym for KT, the common name of the old user of this route, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.

Katy Trail. Lots of this...

The Katy Trail isn't paved, it's made of crushed limestone and totally suited to bikes, but after all the wet weather I thought it might be sloppy and unridable. Before I committed to the routing for the rest
of the day I took a 5 mile test run along the KT Trail and it was awesome!  Sure the bike sinks at the occasional soft spot and the pace is a bit slower but it's totally worth it. No need to worry about traffic, road hazards (except at the turtle crossings) or navigation. It's all very relaxing. The trail winds along the eastern edge of the Missouri River hugging an ancient riverbank of dramatic limestone cliffs. Most of the trail is lined with trees which makes a nice wind break and it's very remote...at least today's 60 miles was. A small hamlet every 15 miles or so but all very sleepy. Constant woodsy scenery and the bright red cardinals (we don't have those where I live) kept me amused for a few hours.


...and some of this!

Boat-Henge!

At mile 86 I left the Katy Trail and found my way back across the Missouri River to Jefferson City, the state capital. Do state government employees get excused at 4pm?  I rolled into town at 420pm
and the roads were nuts! Definitely the most dangerous part of this week so far. Then stopped at a local bike shop to stock up on tubes after yesterday's debacle. 

Tomorrow is the longest day of the week, 110 miles along the Katy Trail, to St. Charles...just north of St. Louis.