Discovering the Katy Trail
Image/video by Scott Thiessen
“Katy” is the 225 mile long jewel of a rail-trail, the first created in the country, and a major tourist destination for Missourians for the last thirty years. Yet I had never heard of it (hey, I’m not om-knee-scient). It was flyin’ Bryan–born and raised in St. Louis who steered a few of us ‘off piste’ and into the shady Katy wonderland. He’d always wanted to ride it since he discovered bikes as a BMXr of note…
We Northern Route riders know that this ride, being the first of its sort, is all about working through glitches. Our biggest asset is the 21 rider’s minds, opinions and insight.
So this blog is dedicated to the spirit of the trip, which is after all celebrating bicycle culture in its myriad man (and woman)ifestations.
Ah, but Katy. K.T. as in Kansas-Texas rail line…she’s a beaut. She winds along the big Muddy Missouri, with old train depots still kind of implied, and all those villages in the once-great riverboat/locomotive e from the ‘westward expansion’.
I thought longingly about the absent prairie grasses, the extirpated indigenous residents, and of course about the disappearance of trains from our daily lives. But it’s impossible to be sad for long on a bike (to quote a velosopher/scientist of note) so it was back to appreciating the chance to get away from the tarmac, hear the crunch of grit under the road tires and the chatting of the ten-odd riders spinning not so very speedily along.
Day one on “Katy” was sunny, hot in the few un shaded cornfield zones but it was easy to get back to shade, and I lay ON the trail because the surface was cooler than me. Try that on US hwy 45…
No dead animals. Two hop-toads, all kinds of bird life, voices set at jungle levels, and all that greenery like topiary of the gods, draped exuberantly over anything vertical, forming green standing grizzly bears and not-scary veet ghosts…it was all just a ten hour hallucination. I really can’t believe it happened, but there were those ten other people who came, saw, and were smitten too.
Just in time, after the first hour or so (and our second hour on the bike) we pulled into a tiwn with a bike shop, ice cream store, and tavern with genuine hell’s angel type waitresses. A big bonus. We didn’t leave for an hour.
It goes on and on, and I’ll try to add to this but it’s four a.m. and I should be sleeping….I love you, K.T. I don’t mind that you’re so flat.