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Jerkhard Sirdribbledick
27,037 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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I booked the trip more than a year ago and finally rode it last week. From Clinton to St. Charles over five days, with a touring company shuttling my luggage to each stop.

As has been well documented, my riding has been way down this year so I was freaked out about pulling that mileage each day. Well, the mileage was one thing, but I was also carrying about 30 pounds of camera equipment. WtF.

Some general thoughts and stats before the pics and more detailed report:

<ul><li>Number of miles: 254</li>
<li>Number of spare tires: 1</li>
<li>Number of CO2 cartridges: 8</li>
<li>Number of patch kits: 2</li>
<li>Number of frame pumps: 1</li>
<li>Number of flats: 0</li>
<li>Number of cramps: 0</li>
<li>Number of crashes: 0</li>
<li>Number of nearby lightning strikes: Lots</li>
<li>Number of emergency pickups from the tour company: 1</li>
<li>Number of bike cases rendered useless by the end of the trip: 1</li></ul>

Overall, the bike held up like a champ. Especially considering I had to conjure up this rig from my imagination. I might be more proud of this than I am of finishing the trail. The only mechanical issue I had during the trip was wheel rub in the rear. I thought it was because my load was imbalanced, but it may actually be something to do with the White Industries hub.

And, yes, fall is the only time to go.

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The Night Before —*St. Charles

Tooling around before getting dinner.

At dinner.

The old mill.

Down by the river at dusk.

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Day 1 — Clinton – Sedalia

This was the easiest day, in terms of mileage. 38 or so. But it was a bit tough because I spent the morning being driven across the state, which meant I wouldn't depart until 12:30 pm or so. Our only stop was at a rest stop with a Wendy's; I chose not to eat lunch and just got a snack from the convenience store.

So it was a late start and I was a bit under-nourished. And this was the first time I'd ridden the bike, fully loaded, on the packed limestone. It took me a while to figure out a sustainable pace and find my rhythm.

By the time I pulled into Sedalia at dusk, I was a little discouraged by how slow-going it was, and the implications of that on the longer days (60 miles on Day 3, 65 miles on Day 5).

Not too long after departing. This is pretty much all I would see for five days.

OMG a bridge!

Yeah. I guess I didn't think I'd see another one of these.


See how inspired I was, early on?

In the town of Calhoun.

The highest point of the trail. It was not "all downhill from here."

Green Ridge.

More Green Ridge.

Green Ridge Civic Center (no I won't be making fun of small town America for the whole report).

A junkyard in the middle of nowhere.

A lake outside Sedalia. Getting closer, thank god.

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Day 2 — Sedalia – Rocheport

The second day had the most on-trail elevation gain (note I didn't say climbing). Most people say the trail is flat, and most of it is. But this western portion, from Clinton to about Pilot Grove (or Boonville, maybe), was definitely undulating. Nothing steep ... just long drags of 1-2 percent grades. On a road bike, on pavement, this would be fine. But on dirt, with 32mm knobby cross tires, and with all the gear, this stuff got ... well, slow.

Like the day before, the day was pocked with plenty of stopping. The stops were mostly for a shot with the camera, but plenty of others were for stretching, nutrition management, natural break, or just plain resting.

I did stop in Pilot Grove for a decent lunch and a fantastic dessert at Becky's Burgers and Cones.

Leaving Sedalia in the morning. This train seemed to stretch for miles.

I didn't realize from the pics (and all that I read) that the trail was sort of on an elevated ridge. So unless I was at a bridge or road crossing, I couldn't lean my bike on anything. This look became pretty familiar.

I'm from Los Angeles. Can someone tell me why all these leaves are falling off the trees? kthx.

Fall. **** yeah.

OMG a bridge!

I love this bike.

Clifton City.

Clifton City.

.ytiC notfilC

I was hoping they could look at my rear wheel, but no one was around.

Clifton City.

Keep on moving.

Only one of these I saw.

It always looked the same, but it never got old.

Tunnel vision.

I got into a staring contest with this guy, hoping he would come out of his shell for a pic. The turtle won.

We all need somebody to lean on.

Repost from FB: Chuck was truing my rear wheel using an upside-down, decades-old road bike as a truing stand. After taking my tire off with a couple of flathead screwdrivers, he proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with how my bike was set up. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating -- if a little sad -- hour.


This stretch from Boonville to Rocheport was neverending. Maybe I was tired and hungry (probably the case), but it was just brutal. Just endless straight stretches.

Late afternoon light in the fall.

Creepiness on the way to Rocheport.
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Jerkhard Sirdribbledick
27,037 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
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The famous tunnel at Rocheport. I would have taken my time here, but it was getting dark and I was going to be late for my dinner reservation.

After dinner on the bluffs in Rocheport, looking east at the I-70 bridge going into Boonville.

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Day 3 — Rocheport – Jefferson City

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Get up early, shoot the Big Muddy from the overlook just outside town, come back and pack, and take off. I’d talked with the B & B owner about the overlook and it seemed like it would be worth the effort. I had dreams of a misty river shot, and the early morning rain seemed to set this up perfectly.

When my alarm went off I was still dead tired and was stuck between getting up or getting more sleep. I finally convinced myself it would be worth it, dragged out of bed, and lugged my Pelican case and tripod down to the overlook.

I got down there and climbed up a somewhat short-but-steep hill to get to the overlook. It was slick from the rain, and I was wearing cycling shoes, so it was a bit sketchy. When I made it to the top, my heart sank. All I could see were the trees blocking the view of the river.

I scrambled down the hill and looked for another vantage point, but there was nothing.

What a waste.

Got back at 8 and decided to sleep for another hour. That felt good, but it ended up being 10:30 before I was finally rolling out the door on my bike. A late, late start for the biggest day of the trip.

That’s an hour, maybe two, later than I would have left if I had just turned off my alarm.

Of course there were rumors of showers throughout the day and scattered thunderstorms later on. This delay might be a problem.

Trail out of Rocheport was beautiful. This whole stretch along the bluffs, which started the day before on the other side of Rocheport, is by far the most spectacular stretch yet.

Got to the MKT trail and turned up toward Columbia. This is what I was really looking forward to ... visiting my old college town. Unfortunately, instead of having a peaceful Saturday where I could quietly meander around town and take things in, Mizzou was hosting Alabama and the town was mobbed corner to corner. Completely nutso.

My first stop was my old dorm. It had been completely gutted and defaced for renovation and didn’t remotely resemble the building in which I lived. So much for nostalgia. I moved on, negotiating wandering tailgaters, to my next stop: the auditorium and practice rooms, where I used to always sneak in so I could play their fantastic pianos.

But that whole area was roped off for a private party related to the game ... likely an alumni thing. I had fantasies of sneaking my bike into the building, walking it down the long hallway of practice rooms and maybe poking into a room for a bit. Instead, I took a glance from afar and kept on rolling.

Lunch was good ... Sub Shop. I seem to remember us ordering from there on a nightly basis, and the sandwich was exactly how I remembered it. Great lunch. Though the place was a dump. We used to always have it delivered and I don’t think I ever once stepped foot in the shop.

I made my way past an old apartment — where I last lived before moving back to L.A. — then went down toward Rock Quarry. I used to love driving this road. Pretty and twisty and fun and a great alternative to Providence. On the maps and elevation chart, this appeared to be a pretty decent climb. I’d been anxious about in the weeks leading up to the ride because of my poor conditioning. And it turned out to be pretty tough. Not a steady climb like the elevation maps indicated, but several short, steep pitches. One of them hit 10%, according to my Garmin. A couple hit 8 or 9%. On a loaded, 50-pound bike with 32mm knobby cross tires, and with tired legs, these were no joke. Ouch. On that aforementioned 10-percenter, I considered walking it. But the road was narrow with no shoulder, and there was a lot of traffic leaving the football stadium (but no drunks drives, I’m sure), so I just huffed my way through it. I’m sure I would have anyway.

From this point until almost all the way back out of town and down to the trail, I had to deal with this undulating terrain. But I was managing ... even when the rain started.

It began as a quick shower. Then nothing, until I got up around Providence and Nifong. Then it started coming down steadily. And it gradually got heavier. By the time I got to Route N and began the “descent” toward the river, it was a bonafide downpour.

But it was still warm out, so I was wet, but not cold. No problem.

And then the lightning started hitting. And I was in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere to find even the smallest shelter. So I just kept pedaling. Another lightning strike, and the thunder was immediate and so loud it caused me to jump out of the saddle. Finally I rolled into a little town called Sapp and found shelter under the small overhang of a church.

I knew remembered enough about midwest storms that I thought I might be able to hang out for a bit until it passed.

The whole time I was there I was debating calling the touring company for an emergency pickup. I’m fine to ride in the rain, especially if it’s not cold out, but riding in a thunderstorm with lightning all around me seemed like a bad idea. And I knew from the last couple days that once I got going on the Katy, shelter would be few and far between. But I also knew that I was only a couple miles from the final descent into Easley, and I was looking more forward to this than anything else. It was my favorite drive, back in the day, and even before I planned this trip I’d wondered what it would be like on a bike. So getting picked up here, in Sapp, so close to something I’d romanticized for years, was just ridiculous. If anything, if the lightning mellowed even just a little, I’d have them pick me up in Easley.

But then it all started winding down. After half an hour or so (of failed attempts at lightning shots), the rain slowed to a faint drizzle, the lightning stopped and it was time to go. (It had actually died down once before a few minutes earlier, but I thought that might be the eye of the storm kept waiting. Sure enough, it built right back up.)

Before I left I decided to call the touring company and make sure they were available to get me, should I run into another storm.

While we were talking, Henry looked at a weather satellite image and thought I’d have an hour or so after this storm passed before getting hit again. That would be give me time to get to Hartsburg, where it would be easier to get to me if it was still necessary.

So I started up again. And almost immediately I began the descent into Easley. What a great feeling to be here. Except the road was still treacherous so I had to ride the brakes pretty hard to keep my speed under control. And all the one-sided weight in the back, combined I guess with the brakes, made the rear wheel want to slide out from under me.

But it was fine. I got down to Easley, got back on the Katy, and started hammering (as best I could, anyway) toward Jefferson City.

A few miles out of Hartsburg, which was somewhere around halfway to Jeff City, the rain started again. Within a few minutes it was pouring. It was colder than before, but it was still manageable.

And then the lightning started back up. Luckily I was just outside of Hartsburg, so I cruised up to the Katy depot stop and hung out under the canopy.

Then, out of nowhere, a guy walks up to me and asks if I’m Roebuck. Turns out, the touring company got a bit confused and just sent someone out to meet me, even though the plan was that I’d call if I needed a ride. And amazingly enough, Mike had just gotten there maybe five minutes before I showed up. Had I been five minutes earlier, I would have cruised right through town and he never would have seen me, and I would have been stuck pedaling down the trail in another thunderstorm.

Despite this good fortune, I didn’t jump at the chance for a ride. I was only 16 miles out and figured I could wait this storm out as well. But then common sense got the better of me and we threw my bike in the van. On our way out to Hwy 63, the lightning kept striking, so I’m pretty sure I made the right choice.

All I can think now is what if I hadn’t wasted my time in the morning. I might have made it to Jeff City before all this happened. Oh well.

Oh, and all that football stadium traffic I had to deal with ... turns out the game was halted because of lightning and most the fans left early.

Not the early-morning shot I was hoping to get.

What are these, geese?

On the way to the MKT trail to Columbia.

Still marveling at fall color.

The famous burr oak. Meh.

On the MKT trail into Columbia.

OMG a bridge!

Still on the way up to Columbia.

After Columbia and my first aventures in the thunderstorms. When I got down to the river (Easley, here), the rain stopped, I was back on the trail, and all was good.

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Day 4 — Jefferson City – Hermann

Not much to report here, except that I was relieved to be on the easiest day (48 miles, completely flat according to mapmyride) and I was relieved that the hardest day was behind me and I was relieved that it wasn't raining.

Even though this stage was flat, it was a b1tch climbing out of Jeff City. On the flip side, going up steep hills right out of the gate is a great way to get the blood flowing in your legs. :wink:

The day was otherwise snagless, which was particularly satisfying considering the day bfore. My B & B was technically not in Hermann; instead, it was on the trail side of the river in McKittrick, which meant I didn't have to climb the bridge into town. Great!

It was still light out when I pulled up. I was a bit bummed by the 12% grade up the long driveway, but I managed it. Got off the bike, caught my breath, then knocked on the door.

And knocked.

And knocked.

No one was there. Called my touring company. Oops ... they sent me to the wrong place. I had to get back on my bike and ride across the bridge into Hermann proper. Not only was I now going to be late for my dinner reservation, but I climbed that stupid driveway -- and a few other hills -- for no reason, AND I had to ride into Hermann afterall. Jesus H. Christ in a Chicken Basket.

The bridge out of Jefferson City.

State Capitol. Btw, Jeff City was f-ing ghetto. The only real blemish on this trip.

The coolest house in the state of Missouri.

WTH is the trail? Long stretches like this from here on out.

Another junkyard.

Some hunk of rock the Missouri River failed to wash away.

No, I didn't stop and shoot every bridge. Not even close.

Believe it or not, not too many unobstructed views of the river.

Cool bluffs.

These last two days mostly had bluffs on the left, and eithe farmland or the river on the right.

Rhineland. Someone told me this setup was for tractor pulls.


Last light falling before getting into McKittrick, before getting into Hermann.

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Day 5 — Hermann – St. Charles

The longest day. 64 miles. The long day before this was shortened by the thunderstorm pickup, and that feature a good 20 miles on paved roads (with lots of hills). The best comparison was the day before ... 48 miles on flat trail. HTF would I do 64 miles like that???

I made an executive decision. I was rarely using most of my camera gear ... for the entire ride my body and 24-70/2.8 were in the handlebar bag, and all the other lenses and crap were in the Pelican. So I pulled the Pelican case and the tripod from the bike and stuck them with my luggage, which would be shuttled to St. Charles. This lightened my load by about 25 pounds. The bike was still heavy, what with all the supplies I was carrying in the rear rack bag, but it was much, much lighter.

I also decided to use my headphones and listen to music. I'd been tempted to throughout the trip, but decided I would save that luxury for the last day.

And boy was that smart.

For the first half of the ride it was still pretty slow-going, but the music helped take my mind off the miles a little bit. I thought I'd get a bigger bost from dropping all the gear, but I just kept reminding myself I would have been even SLOWER had I not done that.

Then I had lunch.

And then my stomach was a little upset for a bit.

And then, after that had passed, something weird happened. Now that I didn't have such an awkward load, I figured I could do more pedaling while standing up out of the saddle. So I shifted up a few times and was about to stand, when I realized I was now going 4- or 5-mph faster without really feeling much difference in my legs. WTF. I guess with all the cargo weight I was more efficient at lower cadence. Who knows. Irregardlessly, I didn't stand, and just kept mashing at around 75 rpm.

And I did this the entire way to the finish, going anywhere from 3- to 5-mph faster than I had gone the entire trip. It was amazing. This whole time I'd felt like I was in grinding survival mode; now I felt like I was on a bike ride.

I guess part of it was I didn't have to worry about my legs the next day, and an even bigger part of it was the lighter load (though that doesn't account for the first half of the day). Whatever the case was, it was an absolutely AMAZING way to finish the ride.

Blue skies for the first time. Wow.

Someone wrote this sign and said, "Yup, that'll do." Then someone else approved it and said, "Good job. Get it printed."

This looked better in my mind.

Last light on the last day.

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Reactions: 251

Frog Whisperer
41,025 Posts
doh...... not first...LOL

Nice stuff bud.......long hard ride eh?

Captain Obvious
11,876 Posts
sounds like an awesome trip.

was anybody else riding with the tour company?

1,862 Posts
Nice. I always enjoy vicarious bike touring, especially with really fine photos. That was a lot of riding on "Day 2".:)

Devoid of all flim-flam
7,299 Posts
A few hassles sure, but I have to say it looks like an idyllic trip. Beautiful and mellow, with enough of the unexpected to keep it interesting. A genuine sojourn.

Just Plain Bitter
8,602 Posts
How did the bike handle with the big box on one side? It looks like it would have been a bit hard to handle.

your text here
13,198 Posts
very jealous. the closest thing to that i have done was elroy/sparta. and that was only one day. maybe someday The Boy and i will get a chance.

great pictures. jealous of that, too.

get out here next year and i can gravel gring you around here.

day 2 looks like a b!tch;)

Windrider (Stubborn)
22,021 Posts
Very nice.

Fred the Clydesdale
1,807 Posts
Roe - stunning photography as usual. Nice blog. How many day 2s could you have had?

89 Posts
Thanks for posting!! I have thought about returning to the midwest doing this ride as I too live in California now. I'm a KU alum and still have quite a few friends in the KC area. I rode a section of it near St Louis when I was there for work a year ago. It was September and still miserably hot and humid. Is it just me, or are the summers more oppressive there now then they were a couple of decades ago?

&#12377;&#12375; + Sweet Potato Kugel
5,846 Posts

Amazing. You always amaze me. The shopping carriage carnage was a hint of where bike vs civilization meets. Great thread.

Thank you.
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