Yesterday was not a typical summer day in MO—clear blue skies, almost no humidity, and a high of 77 degrees. About 11:00 am, I hatched the idea of driving the 120 miles to Rocheport, MO to ride part of the Katy Trail. Brendan and Liz, Deb and Jim and I were on the road by noon. (Deb's still slightly S-shaped and can't ride, but she was fine to come along.)
The Katy Trail, which runs across Missouri from St. Charles to Clinton, is the longest rail-to-trail in the country. The guidebook says it's a flat, straight, easy ride. The guidebook does not lie.
The guidebook does not do it justice, either. You ride at the base of 100-foot limestone cliffs filled with caves and fascinating structures. Above you, springs drip from rocks covered with deep-green moss sculptures; trees twist out of solid stone, rooted to almost nothing and stretching to the sun; the woods turn primeval beyond the sunny borders. Below you, the river roars and rumbles, tosses and tumbles toward the sea.
In the first mile, we spent as much time taking pictures as pedaling.
I've hiked and biked and explored a lot of North America in the last 15 years. I've been in more majestic places, more breathtaking, but haven't seen much that's flat-out prettier than the Katy Trail from Rocheport to McBaine, MO. If the weather and circumstances are with me, I'm going back next Sunday to ride the opposite direction. We hear you travel through a 250-foot tunnel bored into the hills.
Last night I dreamed I was back riding that narrow ribbon between earth and water—a flying dream, really. It had that same fearless power, the thrilling freedom, the effortless rush. The thing is, this dream is real and the feeling waits for me on the Katy Trail.