Riding the Katy Trail – at 60!

Katy Trail State Park

Celebrating 60 on the Katy Trail

Two years ago, I decided I wanted to celebrate my 60th birthday with an adventure. I scoured the internet for ideas. I happened upon a story about the Katy Trail and decided cycling the trail from end to end was just the adventure I was looking for.

Be wearing her Katy Trail t-shirt preparing to ride the Katy
Thanks to some awesome friends, I have my shirt ready for when I conquer the trail.

About the Katy Trail

The Katy Trail is America’s longest Rails-to-Trails project. The trail extends from Clinton, Missouri to Machen, Missouri, across the entire state of Missouri. It follows the old MK&T Railroad and is 237.7 miles from start to finish. It’s mostly flat with just somewhat of a rise and fall from Clinton to Sedalia. Since the trail is a crushed limestone, we’ll be riding Specialized Chisel bikes, which should be fine for the trail.

Riding the Katy Trail  takes a path through Missouri

The Katy Trail Guidebook

Once I decided the ride would be a great way to celebrate turning 60, I wanted to learn more about the Katy Trail. I first looked at websites on the Katy Trail. The two most helpful were BikeKatyTrail.com and KatyTrailMo.com. Based on some advice I found on these websites, I purchased The Complete Katy Trail Guide Book by Ben Dufur.

Ben’s book is one of the most complete books on the Katy Trail out there. He provides information on everything you need to ride the trail as well as historical information on the towns you’ll pass through, lists and phone numbers of lodgings, restaurants, wineries, beer pubs, bike shops, post offices, and many more services. I found it invaluable and used it throughout the planning process.

Katy Trail guide book by Ben Dufur used to prepare me for riding the Katy Trail at 60

Setting an Itinerary

The first thing I needed to decide was how many miles I wanted to ride each day. This would determine how many days it would take to ride the 237 miles. I looked at suggested itineraries on other blogs as well as the suggestions in the Katy Trail Guide Book. I decided to take 6 days to complete the trail. This way, our days would range from 27 miles to 48 miles. Since the preference is to ride west to east due to the grade of the trail, I decided we should start our journey in Clinton. Since the most beautiful time of year to ride is in the fall, I set October as the month we’d do our ride in.

Riding the Katy  Trail - map showing mileage

Planning The Trip

As I researched what would be needed for a 6 day ride on the Katy Trail, I discovered there was a lot more to consider and do than I thought. Luckily I started the process 2 years before our ride; plenty of time to get organized and finalize our plans (or at least I hoped it would be). Thanks to Ben’s book and other resources, I had our list of gear to purchase, supply list, and itinerary done in less than 2 weeks. I bought a travel journal to keep track of everything and to use to record our adventures during the ride. Now, 2 years seemed so far away!

Trip planning journal for riding the Katy Trail

The Gear List for Riding the Katy Trail

I used a combination of sources to compile our lists and we talked to the folks at REI, at length, regarding the gear our bikes should have. Since we would be riding from lodging to lodging, we felt we only needed enough supplies for a day ride as we’d be able to restock each night. We opted for a rear trunk with panniers, a front removeable handlebar bag for personal items (like phone, money, etc.), and 2 bottle holders (the rear trunk also has a water bottle holder).

Bike with front handlebar bag for the Katy Trail

Additional Supplies for Riding the Katy Trail

To keep our clothes and other necessities dry, we purchased a package of waterproof storage bags. We also invested in 3 insulated water bottles for each of us to help keep our water cold. I composed a list of supplies that we’ll need for the trip and we have been purchasing the bigger ticket items (like our bike gear) throughout the year.

List of supplies for the Katy Trail
Our packing list for the trip

And that brings me to the last item to prepare for the trip….RIDE, RIDE, RIDE! Since our longest day on the trail will cover 48 miles, we need to make sure our legs (and butts) can handle not only the long days, but getting on the bike for 6 days straight.

To do this, we must ride, ride, and ride some more.

Carl and Be - riding trips preparing for the Katy Trail

Keeping up with our Training

To keep up with our training rides, we use a cycling journal. It helps us schedule our rides as well as make sure we are getting enough “butt time” on the bike.

Cycling journal for recording Katy Trail training rides
That’s it for now, we’ll update after the ride on locations we stayed, places we ate, and fun we had.

Our Other Adventure

The Katy Trail will be our second big adventure that we will be writing about. Our first was our trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and our stay at Phantom Ranch. Our adventure was broken down into four posts, Our Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon, Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon, A Day in the Canyon, and Hike up Bright Angel Trail.

Everyone Needs a Role Model-In the Grand Canyon with our role models, Rick and Jean