Gateway Arch Sculptural Shape
By
Tour Highlights
Country USA - MO
Time of Year September
Tour Group self
Miles per Day 18-82
Road Conditions Crushed Stone (Katy Trail) & paved (road connections)
Terrain Flat (trail), rolling hills (road)
Weather Warm & Dry (cool nights)
Riding Days 5
Evelvation Gain ~0
Total Miles 360
Contact velotrain@peoplepc.com
The Katy Trail
Katy Trail Resources
Shimmering skin
Day 1 - 5 miles
As is most often the case at the start of my tours, I rode my loaded bike into work on Friday, and then rode downtown after work to catch the harbor shuttle to the airport - $10 but well worth it. When I checked in at TWA they didn't have any bike boxes and the fellow at the counter told me I didn't need one. However, when I went down to the baggage office to check the bike they asked me to go to Delta to see if they had one. I'm usually happy to box, but if they were willing to take it unboxed I wasn't about to go to another airline to see if I could buy a box from them.

We were on the runway about to takeoff when we got an announcement that a circuit-breaker kept popping and we were returning to the gate, followed by lots of sighs and some other reactions. A mechanic was summoned to analyze the problem and once the source was identified a search for a replacement part was made. The net result is that we left Boston three hours late. My major concern was that I was booked into the downtown youth hostel in St. Louis and this meant there was no way I could get there by the 10 PM office deadline.

Things didn't improve in St. Louis when I was tightening the allen bolt that secured the handlebar and it suddenly went from getting
Park from the Arch
tighter to getting looser. I hadn't been putting very much torque on it but I immediately asssumed that I had stripped the threads in the stem. On the plus side I was easily able to get TWA to provide a nearby hotel room for me at no charge with a voucher for breakfast. Luckily there was a shuttle bus to the hotel since the weight of my handlebar bag made it difficult riding with droopy handlebars.

Day 2 - 36 miles

In the morning I noticed that the rear tire was low so I started to pump it up. Unfortunately I had just lost the screw-on cap for the pump head on my Master-Blaster so only had a feeble mini-pump with me on the tour. I quickly discovered that the low air was caused by a cut right at the bottom of the valve stem, and the probably cause was that this was a Presta tube on a Schrader rim. I had the wheel replaced some months earlier and don't believe I had ever needed to pump the tire before andso hadn't noticed the wheel-tube mismatch. I put my spare tube in and added an extra valve bolt on the inside of the rim to help stabilize the valve stem. I had looked up bike shops in the yellow pages the previous night to get a new stem, so headed off for the Big Shark shop in University City on my way into downtown. I arrived just before they opened and got a new stem and had them put a Schrader tube on the rear. The other problem I was having is that that the Nimbus 38 tire on the rear was very loose on the rim and difficult to seat correctly. When I first rode away from the shop there was a very noticeable bump from the wheel being out of round and I went back to get it reseated. The tire still had a fair amount of rubber on it but in retrospect I should have replaced it then.

Chips abandoned in Illinois
I rode through Forest Park on my way into town and then spent three enjoyable hours at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is highly recomended. I dropped my panniers off at the hostel even though I couldn't check-in at the time, then headed downtown. After riding around some I headed over to the Arch (as I recall it's properly know as the National Expansion Memorial, although perhaps it should be called screw the native Americans memorial) on the Mississippi and found out that all the tickets for rides to the top were sold out for the day. I enjoy industrial architecture so spent some time exploring some of the older business districts of the downtown area. I decided to make a trip across the bridge to East St. Louis in Illinois but found myself on what had become a limitedaccess road and quickly back-tracked. I was back in St. Louis when I alarmingly discovered that I waw missing Chips, my bear (hello Rufus) who has toured in many states and 12 countries with me. Having visions of him being in the middle of the road and flattened by an 18-wheeler I rode as fast as I could. I happily found him by the side of the road where I had turned around in Illinois and we had a teary reunion after the brief separation. I walked to dinner from the hostel to a local bar called Hammerstones where I ended up staying for dinner and music.

Day 3 - 35 miles

Shadow
I woke up to another flat on the rear tire. I patched the small hole but the mini-pump couldn't push enough air to get it as hard as I wanted so I rode to a nearby convenience store with an air compressor. I rode into town and got a ticket for the top of the Arch and wrote a few postcards while I waited for my allocated time. When the arch was built they left space for some sort of transit but it took several years to design and install the system. They call it a tram and it's a combination elevator, escalator and train to navigate the compound curve of the arch. Each side of the arch has 8 cars which each just barely seat 5 people; I couldn't help but think of the level of discomfort should it ever get stuck. The view from the top was less than spectaclar but I was glad I had gone anyway.

Fat Tire Ale
After riding around downtown some more (noting the many vacant buildings), I headed to the Central West End area and the art museum. On the way I noticed the Schlafly Brewery and decide it was time for lunch. I had an excellent soup with good, crusty bread and a small ceaser salad and a sampling of their brews. It started to rain while I was exploring the Grand Center area, which has most of the city's theaters and many art deco buildings, although most of them are sadly abandoned.I was ableto duck under the portico of a closed Woolworth's and stay dry during some fairly intense downpours. When things quieted down I continued towards the museum. Hearing gospel singing coming from a storefront church I went over and listened from behind a locked chain-link screen door. Several folks invited me to come in, either with gestures or verbally, but I declined. Part of me wanted to, but I wouldn't have wished to stay long and suspected it would not be an easy exit once in. I rode quickly through the Central West area and noticed lots of antique shops; I would have spent more time exploring this chic shopping and dining area if it hadn't been raining.

Riding through Forest Park I noticed an open gate to the zoo in front of me with no one staffing it. There were no signs prohibiting bikes and the temptation was too great so I pedaled right in at slow speed, passing several bear cages before the mounties told me I couldn't ride there. Continuing to the museum I was
Former RR Bridge on Trail
surprised to discover that it was free all the time. I was amazed that the city would sponsor both a free zoo and art museum, although I'm sure they each have other contributors. I spent a couple of hours there until they closed and discovered once again that for some odd reason museums never have postcards of the works there that you like, just the stuff you didn't care for. Since the rain had largely stopped when I was riding back into town I went to the Riverfront Trail that heads northalong the river from downtown and rode several miles before it started to get boring and darkness was arriving. I'm into trains as well as industrial stuff and got a healthy serving of both in the miles of the trail that I rode.

Day 4 - 82 miles

You can probably guess by now what I awoke to. I was particularly irritated because unlike the past two days it was a beautiful sunny morning and I knew I had a long day ahead of me. I found the hole, which was small and interestingly enough about the same distance from the valve stem as the hole I patched the previous day, but in the other direction. I had inspected the outside of the tire and run my finger around the inside the previous day and not encountered anything, but decided it was time for a closer look.Looking carefully at the inside of the tire I spotted an extremely narrow, short piece of wire that was just barely protruding through the tread. I removed the offending wire, patched the tube, walked to the air pump, had a quick breakfast and finally set off. I had l
Typical Trailside Landscape
earned from the tourist info bureau that the MetroLink, which I planned to take out of town to get me closer to the start of the Katy Trail in St. Charles, was free this week for anyone who brought a bike. Not only could I bring my bike on board, but they were encouraging it! This is the same light-rail system that I had originally planned to take into town from the airport on Friday night.

I took the train to North Hanley, where I had been told I might be able to put the bike on a bus heading in my direction. At that time of day the next bus was an hour away so I didn't hang around tofind out. I soon found myself on a fairly busy 4-lane road in a strip-mall area. I also noticed that my front tire was losing air, so I pumped it as much as I could with hopes of making it to St. Charles where I knew there were bike shops. I was looking around as I rode and happily spotted the Touring Cyclist, one of a chain of local shops. They had a 10-year old Expedition 35 tire which I put on
Brown Corn Harvest
the front. They also had a Conti TT 37 which I looked at and considered for the back, but foolishly decided not to get it.

I had a quick lunch of chicken chile and bread at the St. Louis Bread Company in St. Charles and finally started riding on the Katy Trail just after noon, with 60 miles to my planned stopover in Hermann. The trail surface is ground limestone and generally fairly smooth and fast, although in some sections there are lots of loose stones and it gets somewhat more tricky. They hadn't had any serious rain since June and my bike and panniers quickly acquired a heavy patina of stone dust. I stopped in the town of Defiance for a quick bottle of juice and noticed a glassed-in display of four stuffed squirrels playing poker while seated at a table. I realize many would find this offensive and I did a little myself, but on the other hand it was so well done that it had a measure of folksy charm - or was it kitsch?

Specialized Vase
I was riding along looking at the scenery when I suddenly sensed movement below me and to the left. I turned around and saw a six-foot long black snake slithering off the trail. A bit later I saw a small, bright green box turtle at the side of the trail. You also get used to birds suddenly flying out of trail-side brush directly in front of you and grasshoppers bouncing off your legs as they detect you only when you're right on top of them. The scenery was much more varied than on the C&O canal towpath, and you're in open areas with views of the river and fields more often. I didn't have as much of the tunnel-effect feeling as I did on the C&O, but it did surface every now and then. Treloar was the last town before Hermann and I went into the local establishment for a quick glass of beer before the final push. There were a half-dozen pick-ups parked outside and I wondered what kind ofreception I would get in my cycling gear, but quickly discovered that I needn't have worried. Perhaps what I enjoyed most about the tour was the sincere friendliness and interest of the people I met on the way, especially outside of the large cities. I'm sure part of it was being exposed to lots of cyclists of all sorts by virtue of living close to the trail, but a larger part is the natue of the people who live here.

Sandstone Cliffs
When I left I really started pressing, in a battle with the rapidly sinking sun. I was riding right along the river here with no intervening trees, and the sun reflecting off the water into my face was wonderful. I had set a goal of reaching McKittrick, where I picked up the road that would cross the Missouri into Hermann, before sunset. I had actually gotten off the trial onto asphalt several miles before this, both for speed and increased vision out of the avenue of trees along the trail at this point. I missed my goal by a mile or two and when I lost the sun Irelaxed and slowed down, knowing I would still make town before hard dark. I crossed the narrow bridge into Hermann and noticed the Riverside motel, which looked rather seedy and was not where I had my reservation. I asked some women walking a dog about my motel and when they mentioned "down a hill, then up a hill" I decided where I was staying, even if the other was less than a mile away. I decided I probably didn't have to worry about there being space and thought it more important to find dinner in this small town, since it was getting close to 8 PM. I went into The Landing and had an adequate dinner, spending some time talking with a bunch of guys I had passed on the trail during the day. They were heading east at the time so I had to assumethey had a support vehicle and were day-tripping. I woke up cold in the middle of the night to discover that the front window was wide open, which I hadn't noticed earlier since it was covered by a curtain.

Day 5 - 55 miles Hermann to Jefferson City

Barn near McKittrick at Sunset
In the morning I discovered that in central Missouri breakfast potatoes come in two varieties: hash browns, which are the disgusting frozen ground-up pieces devoid of all texture or flavor and American Fries, which are deep-fried chunks of fresh potatoes. What I would have preferred to either was good old-fashioned home fries cooked on a griddle with onion. I also decided to try a biscuit instead of toast and immediately remembered why I didn't like biscuits - they must be an acquired texture. Riding around town in the daylight I discovered that there was a whole section of it that I hadn't seen the previous evening, with many German restaurants and other shops.

Riverfront Bar
After crossing the bridge and hitting the trail, I saw some movement ahead of me but couldn't pick out any bicycles. This was explained a few moments later when a pair of deer bounded off the trail into the brush. There were some unusual clouds in the morning, oval or disk shaped, almost looking like flying saucers. I don't believe I've ever seen anything like them before. As I was passing the small town of Steedman I heard someone yell, "hey, Boston." Turning around I saw one of the guys from the restaurant the previous evening standing on the porch of a small store. He said they had good sandwiches there but it was before noon and I hadn't traveled even half my mileage for the day so I was reluctant to have lunch so shortly after breakfast. Yet another decision I later regretted.

Continuing on to Mokane, which appeared larger on the map and therefore meaning more choices, I looked in at a deli that made sandwiches but found it unappealing, largely because it appeared that everything came onWonder bread (fluffy white junk in my mother's parlance). The only other option was a bar (they often serve the only lunch in town in many of these small places) so I went there. After the burgers on the wall menu was listed ham and cheese, which I assumed would be grilled.
State Capitol in Jeff City
I asked if I could have it on rye or wheat bread and was told by the rather unfriendly woman behind the bar that my only option was a hamburger roll (Wonder bread in a different shape). I asked if it could be grilled and she said yes. When the sandwich arrived the roll may have been grilled on the inside but not the outside. I asked if it could be crisped on the outside and she said no, not after it was all put together. I was close to telling her that was the essense of a grilled sandwich but decided it wasn't worth it.

I stopped at the small general store in Tebbetts for a juice and thought the woman behind the counter seemed awfully old, and noticed she was using a walker. While I was in the store drinking the juice another biker came in and announced he was the grandson of someone who lived in the town. They got to talking and she said she was 95 years old! The store was in an old bank that had failed in the crash of '29 and apparently she had been working there ever since. She mentioned that she was listening to the scanner that morning and had heard than sun was giving way to clouds with chances of thunderstorms or a snow shower. I actually hoped for the former.

Other Loaded Tourers
My hotel in Jeff City (as it's locally known) had offered to drive a van across the bridge to pick me up but with my defiant independent nature I declined. From my literature it was unclear whether it was legal to bike across the bridge or not, but I didn't see any signs prohibiting it as I got onto the three-lane wide approach road. With fewer lanes it might have been hairy, but it was also just before 4 PM and most of the traffic was going the other way. Jeff City is the state capitol and I made tracks for the capitol building, hoping to maybe catch the last tour of the day; I had heard of some Thomas Hart Benton murals there that I wanted to see.

Street Signs in Rocheport
I rode my bike up to the handicap entrance and wheeled it inside and just left it leaning against a wall there, unlocked. I went over to the nearby info desk and asked if I had missed the last tour. He said no, it had just started and directed me to the small group that comprised it. The guidewas a bit chattier than I would have preferred but if I had wandered around alone I wouldn't have gotten the interpretation of the Benton murals, which were painted in the House of Reps lounge in 1935 and depict the state's history. One of the scenes was an image of Frankie and Johnny, which turns out to be a true story from St. Louis. The building was under heavier security than normal due to a controversial veto override vote on an anti-abortion bill coming up the next day, so I was all the more surprised no one questioned my bike just sitting there or removed it. After riding around town I went to my hotel and had dinner there.

Day 6 - 65 miles Jefferson City to Boonville

I didn't like the prices on the hotel breakfast menu so rode to the Towne Grill, which was much more agreeable. The weather forecast the previous evening had showed mostly sun for the next four days, but the sky belied it being deeply overcast. I went into a store to buy some postcards and as I was leaving the clerk said, "have a nice day." It had a different tone to it than it does in Boston, and I told the store staff, "You know, I'm from Boston, and when people here say that you sound like you really mean it." I'm sure some of the people in Boston mean it also, but it just doesn't have the same sincere ring that I heard all across Missouri.

I stopped in Hartsburg for a hot chocolate since it was still pretty raw outside. This was one of the more developed towns along the trail, with a large bike shop next door to the café. I played "throw the stick" with a couple of kids and a dog in front of it for a while. In Wilton there were a couple of teepees and a funky-looking store that advertised herbs on their sign, so I stopped in for a brief visit.
Rocheport Tunnel
I had been fighting a bug and considered getting something there for it, but the herbs were designed to be taken as teas and I decided that would be somewhat impractical traveling as I was. I believe the woman who ran the place called herself Moon Woman. Easley was a sad looking place that supposedly had a campground, but I wouldn't have stayed there. The store was closed and out back there was a pile of hundreds of beer cans mixed with other garbageand with a trashed folding table on the top, all of it showing signs of being set on fire recently. I assumed thay had had a wild time there the previous Saturday night. I noticed a large box turtle on a dirt road and picked him up and moved him into the brush. A minute later a garbage truck came flying through and I felt I had extended that turtle's life by at least a day.

I stopped for lunch in McBaine, noticing from the 'founded' sign that they would be celebrating their centennial in 5 days. I had a great burger in the "Country Club" there and after returning to the trail found it to be the most attractive section of the whole trip. You are generally riding right next to the river and there are massive sandstone bluffs on the other side of the trail. This section brings you close to Rocheport, which is undoubtedly the largest and most interesting town located right on the trail. I could tell when I was getting close because I saw two couples on what were obviously rental four-wheeled sideways tandem 'bikes'. I spent close to an hour wandering around town and talking with a fellow in a store where I finally found some rumored Katy Trail postcards to send to cycling friends. There are lots of very attractive brick buildings here, both commercial and houses.

Leaving Rocheport you ride through the only tunnel on the trail. After that was perhaps the most boring stretch I rode, with something like a five mile tangent, a slight bend and then another five mile tangent. In this section I saw a loaded tourer coming towards me from the west so I got my camera out to grab a slide of him as he rode by. He stopped so we chatted for a while. He had gone to some family function in Dallas and was riding back to the Dayton, Ohio area.
Fellow Riding from Dallas
He said he was mostly camping and staying at some motels, so I asked him how he made the decision. He responded that it depended on how bad he smelled: if the campground had a shower he would stay there, but if not and he really needed a shower he'd look for a motel. I warned him about Easley and suggested he might be able to spend the night in a teepee if he wanted to.

Since the trail crosses the Missouri at Boonville where it turns southwest (the trail not the river) for Sedalia, the new bridge there has a wide sidewalk to acommodate it. I immediately liked Boonville since it really had the feeling of a river town, with a long main street lined with handsome brick structures. There was a lot more traffic passing through than I had expected, including a lot of big rigs, but it turned out to be overflow caused by construction on the nearby I-70. My motel was a few miles out of town by the interstate and I had heard of one place closer to town, but didn't care for the looks of it and for the first time on the tour needed to use my granny to climb up out of town to my lodging. I had asked around about what dining options there were since I was considering eating in town before I went to the motel, but decided to head out there and then eat since otherwise I'd be riding out in the dark. I had a good cheap dinner at a large truck stop and then went to my motel.

Day 7 - 78 miles Boonville to Carrollton

When I was planning the tour my original thought was to follow the trail to its end and approach Kansas City from the southwest, but the roads didn't look promising on the map and a query on the list made a northern approach sound more bike-friendly. Spring street in Boonville led me to route # 41, which was easy riding with lightly rolling hills (none requiring the granny), good pavement and little traffic. I noticed the rear tire semed to be slowly losing air again, so I pumped it up hoping that would hold until I got to Marshall where I could use an air pump.
County Road Signs
Marshall is a classic county seat with a large courthouse sitting in the square in the middle of town. I had lunch in something I had thought no longer existed, the fountain / lunch counter of a large-general, mini-department store downtown. I had pumped the tire up before lunch and it semed to be holding so I rode off without looking for a cause of the air loss. I also visited a small park dedicated to Jim the Wonder Dog, who allegedly could understand many languages, including Morse code!

Route 41 turned due north here and I picked up a strong headwind. I had headwinds for a majority of the tour and I'd definitely recommend doing it in the other direction. At one point I saw ahead of me what looked like lots of birds circling over the road, but as I got closer I could see that it was small pieces of corn stalk whirling around in the wind. I saw a bunch of trucks and farm equipment parked in a field that had obviously just been cut down and noticed anoher group of stalks in a whirlwind slowly moving across the field. As it passed over an area you could see it suck up aditional material from the ground as it moved off. Even though it was a clear, sunny day this tornado-like effect caused me to quickly look at the sky with some anxiety. Does anyone on the list know what causes this? I've seen stuff caught in a more-or-less static whirlwind on a city streetcorner, but never anything like this in open country.

Rounding a corner shortly after leaving the small town of Miami I suddenly saw a large bridge in front of me, having forgotten that I was crossing the Missouri that day. This was an elegant, lacy-looking, pale blue truss bridge, easily the most attractive of the tour. I had a few miles of bottom-land riding until I climbed to the meet with route # 24 which would bring me into Carrollton. I had expected a gas station or store at the junction, but nothing was there. The rear tire was going soft again and I pumped again, determined that I'd rather deal with it in my motel room later that night. I was happy to see a sign announcing my motel only six miles away, but I hadn't passed any store since Marshall so pulled into a driveway to ask for some water since both my large bottles were now empty.

Conflicting Signs in Boonville
Carrollton is another county seat with the traditional courthouse in the square. I was delighted to find that my motel was only a few blocks from downtown and even less from a small funky tire store with an air hose out front. Riding around I found some serious-looking train tracks on the other side of town and an elevator (grain type) worker told me that it was the BNSF (Burlington Northern Sante Fe) main line between Kansas City and Chicago, and sometimes trains went by every two minutes. Standing there for twenty minutes verified what he said, with solid double-stack, auto rack and pig trains screaming by at 70 miles an hour in frequent intervals. I went to the Main Street Restaurant for dinner. Like many other places I ate at they didn't have a non-smoking section, although at least in this case it semed very few of their customers were actually smoking. I didn't realize how much more common smoking is in the midwest than the east, and the unknown concept of non-smoking areas except in the largest cities and not always even then. After ordering I went to the restroom to wash up and was astounded to find my dinner waiting for me when I got back. Obviously not one of these places where the menu warns that everything is cooked to order. Back in my motel room I did a visual inspection of the outside of my rear tire and saw something small and wooden in the rubber - my first thorn flat.

Day 8 - 80 miles Carrollton to Kansas City

Perhaps foolishly, I stayed up until 2 AM catching up on my journal and writing postcards. After I dressed I walked my bike to the air pump and it immediately deflated. When I brought just the tire back to try to see where the hole was the guy said, "that was fast." I told him I'd had lots of practice over the week. There was a 1/4" cut right next to the valve stem. I patchedit and inflated the tube to about 1.5" to make sure it would hold and then put it back in tire. It held to a certain point and then deflated, so I took it back out of the tire and noticed that the patch was a bit loose so added another one. I
Face on Barn
went through the same cycle of it holding by itself but not when in the tire at a higher pressure. I considered using my Presta tube, but asked if there might be anywhere in town that sold tubes. He mentioned a store in a mall called Places.

I walked back to the motel and was greeted by the owner calling, "hello, Boston." In a timely manner he asked if there was anything he could do for me and in no time at all I discovered the last 27" tube amongst a wealth of 26" tubes and we were on our way back to the motel. I installed the new tube, brought the bike back to the air hose and finally had a functional mount. I rode back to the motel to get the panniers and ask if I could still find breakfast somewhere since it was getting close to 11 AM. He directed me to the Hitchin' Post and I encountered some of the friendliest folks (where are you from, where have you been, where are you going) I had met in a friendly week. One fellow even waited for me to come out after breakfast to take my photo and show me a photo of the grave of Jim, the Wonder Dog.

I figured Kansas City was about 60-70 miles and I'd be pushing dark again. The obvious roue was state 10 west to Narbonne and Hardin, then county J to my last crossing of the Missouri. This was about the most boring riding I had with the first 10 miles unvaryingly straight all the way to Narbonne. In Hardin I spoke with a teen-aged girl in a mini-store about routes and possibly staying north of the river on 210, but she said it was narrow with a fair amount of traffic. She warned me of the narrownes of the route 13 bridge I was heading for, but I told her I was well used to dealing with things like that.

Birds of a Feather
After crossing the bridge I made an immediate right onto 224, knowing I was passing up my best bet for lunch in Lexington, but hoping to find it in Wellington. Route 224 was probably the prettiest road I was on all week with lots of trees, slightly rolling and little traffic. The restaurant in Wellington wouldn't open for another hour, but I was told that the store I had passed coming into town made sandwiches. However, I didn't feel like climbing that hill again. An elderly gent told me I could get ice water at the town hall, so I went around the corner and filled my bottles from the water cooler. The road got hillier on the way to Napolean, with Waterloo in-between. I was told the names were chosen around 1820 when Napolean was viewed as a hero.

The general store had home-made microwave burgers that were surprising good - if only she had a toaster for the bun. It was so good I ordered another and used the trampoline in the yard while I waited. I knew that 224 merged with route 24 just west of town and shortly after became 4 lanes, but she said it was a very quiet 4 lanes and the other option I was looking at was hillier and fairly busy. Going downhill on 24 just before it widened I was at the far right of the travel lane instead of on the paved shoulder because of some debris there that I wanted to avoid. The driver of a white Camareo with three guys in it leaned on the horn as he went by - the first time of the whole trip any driver had been less than courteous. Probably because of that I raised my arm in an Italian salute and the Camaro pulled over to the shoulder down the road and stopped. I had just finished thinking "here we go" when he just as quickly pulled out again and sped away, with me thinking one of his buddies had said something like "it's just some guy on a bike."

The four lanes seemed hardly justified as the traffic would just barely require two lanes, but this cahnges as I got closer to Independence. When the wide, paved shoulder was clean and smooth enough to ride on I would, otherwise I stayed on the far right of the road, moving over when traffic got dense.
Elegant Bridge
Just east of Independence I stopped to take a photo and shifting after I started up again my rear derailleur cable broke. I had been carrying what I thought was a long cable in my tool kit for well over a decade, but discovered it wasn't quite long enough with the bar-end shifters. I was able to set the chain on the 19-cog using a combination of the set screw and cinching the broken cable.

Route 24 got to be very busy in a strip-mall area and I really wanted off it. State 291 took some of the traffic, but shortly afer I rode about a mile south to route 12 which I followed all the way to downtown, which I could finally see about 10 miles away from the top of a hill in Independence. On the other hand it was close to 7 PM and I stopped to mount the lights, turning on the rear flasher. I had a room booked in the Midtown Rodeway Inn, which was the closest to downtown reasonably priced place I could find.

Since I suspected I wouldn't feel like going back out for dinner after I checked in, I got a very nice chicken gyro with rice and Greek salad to go at a middle-eastern restaurant and a six-pack from a beer store that had the best selection I'd seen since Boston. There were perhaps two dozen micros that I'd never seen before and it was a very hard decision.

Day 9 - 18 miles Kansas City

Early in the morning I rode downtown and checked out some cheaper motels, but decided the area was just too questionable. Also, I wanted to be close to the Amtrak station for an early train Monday morning and I discovered that where I was I had an easy 10-minute downhill ride to the station. I had checked the bike shop listings in the yellow pages and found that Midwest Cyclery was only about a mile south I where I was staying, so headed there and very quickly I had a new rear shifter cable. I also picked up a Topeak Einstein while I was there. I wanted to visit the Nelson-Atkins art museum and stopped at the Country Club Plaza
BNSF and Grain Elevator
area on the way, which is a very upscale shopping district. The museum was free on Saturdays and I enjoyed it and the large number of Henry Moore sculptures around it outside. When I got out of the museum I found that the day had greyed over even more than it was earlier, so did a bit more riding then went back to the hotel. I had dinner at a nearby Gates barbecue which had been recommended to me, but which I would not recommended to anyone.I thought it was a restaurant, but it turned out to be self-serve cafeteria style and the most expensive fast food I've ever had and the quality wasn't all that great, although they sure were doing great business.

Day 10 - 38 miles Kansas City

I had my seventh flat of the tour this morning and came close to not riding the rest of the day. However, I was very interested in seeing some of the railroad - industrial districts, so I talked myself into repairing it and setting out once again. I crossed the Kansas River into my third state of the tour although I didn't plan to stay there any longer than I had in Illinois. Coming back to Missouri I spent a couple of hours exploring the West Bottoms area where railroad tracks (or previous railroad racks) snake their way in alleys between brick buildings, with frequently complex street and structure arrangements. The sound of train air horns was almost constant in this area of Kansas City, a sound which stirs my spirit. Coming up from river level I rode through the developing River Market district and had a satisfying lunch at the like-named brewery. I rode some more through the downtown area and found that it is like many older cities with many of the buildings vacant, although seemingly less so than I found in St. Louis. I wound my way back to my lodgings and packed and got to bed early for my travel day in the morning.

Day 11 - 2 miles Kansas City - Boston

Sunset
I grabbed a quick fast food breakfast and some snacks for lunch on the train then headed for the station. It was fortunate that it was downhill since there was a blistering headwind out of the north. Although I did have to buy a separate $10 ticket, there was indeed roll-on bike service with it stored at one end of a coach that wasn't in use. There were actually relatively few people on the train and I'm somewhat surprised that the state chooses to keep subsidizing it, but who am I to question it? I always enjoy train rides, even with less than spectacular scenery. I had scouted out the MetroLink connection the previous week and was headed for the airport minutes after getting off Amtrak. TWA did make me buy a box for $15 this time, but they were generally friendly about the bike. Unlike the flight out the trip back home was happily uneventful. Since it was dark when I got in to Boston I opted for a cab ride home instead of changing and reassembling the bike to ride the ten or so miles.

Resources
From: "Wente, John" <Wente@orgtek.com>

An added bonus is that Amtrak runs parallel to the trail on the opposite side of the river, so it is possible to ride the trail in one direction, then take Amtrak back to the place where you started. That is in fact what we did. Amtrak offers roll-on bike service on this route. It's not perfect, but it works!

This trail is unique in the fact that it is a state park, which accounts for its excellent maintenance. For information, call 1-800-334-6946.

© 2000 Charles River Wheelmen, Inc. All rights reserved. Revised: Friday, February 09, 2001