May 19, 2001

5/19/01 Marthasville, MO

42.2 miles

Said goodbye to Mike, but not before he gave me some CampusDog.com t-shirts, his dot.com. Sounds like they're doing everything right, and I wish him success.

Libby loaded up Justin and took me to St. Charles, the eastern end of the Katy Trail. Even though it was early Saturday, St. Charles was preparing for its "Lewis and Clark Heritage Days." I really can't thank Libby enough for everything she's done just so I could have a few days off the bike. And it was so good to see her again after all these years (plus see her son, Justin).

Opening ceremonies 'Lewis & Clark Heritage Days'

I spent some time walking among all the re-enactors as they commemorated the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which left St. Charles in 1804. There were military corps, mountain men, French fur traders, Indians, and a replica of the boats used during the adventure.

Unsure of the weather because it was so overcast, I decided to get started, even though I only had a 40-mile day planned. My touring cycling friend, Jim Foyle, tells me that the surface of the trail is a lot slower than pavement, even though it's relatively flat.

And even though it rained yesterday, the trail was a pretty nice surface to ride. I'm probably lucky the weather looked "iffy" because it wasn't too crowded, either.

I stopped in Defiance, MO to visit at Seasons & Memories. Turns out the owner is in Branson trying to move his dulcimer business there. So Fritz, who is retired (but don't tell him that) opens up the store on weekends while Todd takes care of the rental bikes. After a nice chat with them, I got some lunch at Terry and Kathy's Bar & Grill.

In what is seeming the norm for the weather in my vicinity, about lunch time the temperature took a big jump.

Almost a green tunnel

I like the trail. It has a great mix of tree-covered path through the woods and open sky as it goes between farm fields. There's also the river and the river bluffs. Because I really don't want to lose any conditioning, I've already gained through the east coast terrain, I decided to push myself a little harder on this level trail. Kind of a sadistic pride as I flew past all these weekenders with my fully loaded-down bike. So it really didn't take long to reach my destination for the night, Marthasville.

Stopped in to talk with Terry and Cathy Turman, who run Scenic Cycles. It's actually the only full-service bike shop I've seen directly on my route. And that's in a town of 700. We talked bikes, touring cyclists, the Katy Trail, and camping. Cathy even had a flyer with the latest info on tenting along the route. And she even gave me a complimentary patch kit when I tried to buy one. As I was leaving, I laughed out loud when I saw their shop team jerseys - "Scenic Psychos." "My son's idea," Terry says.

I headed over to Loretta's Place, where she sometimes lets cyclists camp behind the restaurant. She was at home taking a nap, but I did talk to her son, Chad. "I grew up here and it was a dying town," he remembers, "until the Katy Trail became reality." And Terry at Scenic Cycles hopes this will continue, especially if this section of the Katy becomes part of the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail, due to be completed for the bicentennial in 2004. Chad tells me I'm coming up on some beautiful sections. "I worked on the Trail back when I was younger, so I know it well. Sure wish I'd had a camera back then." He was covering the restaurant because his dad was sick, but told me to come back and Loretta would probably not care if I camped out back.

"Biker guy, you can camp out back," Loretta says. "My yard is your yard." Since I was camping for free, I might as well eat dinner in Loretta's restaurant. She makes it simple: one meal (buffet) = one price. Good, filling home-style cooking. Then I walked down to Choo-Choo's Frozen Custard for a milk shake. And this being Saturday night, I had my choice of two baseball fields with games all day (and all night).

Small Town America!

It's so easy to slip into the "city life" like when I stayed with Libby. But out here, dependent on myself for my entertainment, the adjustment is much more difficult. It's hard not to be doing something. I guess that's when I should just "be" in the moment.

Stars over my head, the sound of the bat hitting a ball, the squeal of a child's delight on the swing set. Time for peaceful sleep.