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Katy Trail Rock Island Spur Comments
New to bike riding and the katy trail

Hello everyone. I haven't ridden a bike in about 10 years, but it's about my only choice to getting in shape because my knee's hurt too bad when I run and gym memberships are rediculous. Besides, who wants to be stuck inside when the weather is nice. I live in St. Charles, and wanted to ride the trail regularly but I have no idea what a good distance would be to start. I'm a 21 yr old female and am in decent shape, so I was thinking about going from St. Charles to Weldon Spring round trip. Would that be too much to start? And does anyone know about how long that would take? I'd like to go about 3 times a week. I also have no one to ride with...so if anyone likes to ride early in the morning-like 6:30 or 7 let me know. I'd REALLY appreciate any comments! Thanks!
posted Apr 22 2010 9:04AM - Sara, St. Charles, MO

Most of the time one of three, if not all, of the following will prevent us from riding further.....lung capacity, our legs ability to keep pedaling, and the soreness of your rear end. Just starting out, I'd ride a few miles at a time keeping track of those three. Keep in mind that you have to turn around and ride back home so make the U-turn around half time or so. A 30 mile round trip may be too much the first time...and you may do fine. It all depends on your physical condition. Start small and work your way up in milage.
posted Apr 22 2010 11:58AM - Trek

Good advice from Trek: "Start small and work your way up" If you're starting at the St Charles trailhead, I would suggest your first time out, don't go any farther than the Page bridge, or maybe where highway 40 crosses the trail. Turn around and if you're still feeling good by the time you get back to where your started, you can aways do another out-and-back. Just be very conservative with your mileage that first time - you don't want to be somewhere in the woods south of highway 40 and have your legs turn to rubber, still miles away from your car. Based on how you feel that first time, you'll have a pretty good idea of where your limits are distance-wise.
Good luck and have fun!
posted Apr 23 2010 7:01AM - Ray (webmaster)

I also live in St. Charles and ride this section regularly. A good "first ride" would be from Frontier Park in St. Charles to the Greens Bottom Trailhead and back which is about 12 miles. Or you could even go up the Page Bridge and loop Creve Coeur.

From here to Weldon Springs trailhead (and back)is my normal ride and even that's tough to do after taking the winter months off. Have to build up to it. Hope to see you on the trails!
posted Apr 23 2010 3:43PM - Mike, St. Charles

It's also not a concern of just fitness. Since you mention to be new to riding a bike, there are other concerns in taking a longer trip. The main one has already been mentioned (I call it "biting off more than you can chew").

The others include making sure your bike fits well (that was my main Katy Trail problem when I went). Something that may not take effect on a short ride will become a concern the longer you go. There's nothing that kills a ride quicker than getting sore somewhere (knees, back, ankles) because you're doing something unnatural. This includes riding technique - most of us as kids didn't ride the right way as to be natural and our parents didn't likely bother to teach us. Being older, it effects us a whole lot more than at that age.

Then if you get too far from home (a few miles) you will want to learn some basic bicycle maintenance (and obtain the right tools to do it and carry them with you) so you won't be marooned if something mechanical goes wrong. Then there are the usual safety concerns to address as well (for anyone), like having contact information for different things along the way, along with a working (my big problem on my last Katy ride) cell phone.

Then there will be nutritional management issues as well. It won't be a concern for a short (5-10 miles) ride, but it will become a factor for longer rides. This means getting the right amount of water and right amount and kind of food so you don't "bonk" or have any of the other possibilities happen. This takes some experimentation, but some research (generic and specific, food and water locations are part of that contact information above). Different people handle it different ways at different times, so if you continue into things like spending a day on the trail, you'll figure out what works well for you.

Hope all that helps.
posted Apr 25 2010 9:26PM - Skyguy9999

It is good you're new to bicycling. Don't be afraid to ask questions of other experienced
riders. We like to help and we had to learn too. Evaluate the advice as what works for one
rider may not work for you. Experience is a good teacher. There are probably some bicycle
clubs in the St Louis area you can ride with too. Ask at your local bicycle shop.
posted Apr 29 2010 11:21PM - Gene

Another thing to consider is the direction of the wind. If the wind is at your back when you are heading out, you may be biking against it on your way home. I prefer to have the wind at my back on the way home when I'm more likely to be tired. Since I live in Jefferson City I can go east or west on the trail. Before I leave home I check weather.com to figure out if there is wind of 10 mph or more and what direction it's coming from. Then I try to ride against the wind on my way out. Wind does fluctuate throughout the day, but if you're a rookie you might want to try to avoid riding against it on your way home.
posted May 2 2010 9:44AM - Cathy, Jefferson City

I just starting back riding myself this spring. The thing that got me was my seat. That second day was very hard, but has gotten better with more time in the saddle.
posted May 4 2010 9:03AM - Kitty, Sedalia

Ditto what Kathy said about the wind. My only other advice is a good pair of bike shorts. They make all the difference in the world. A gel seat helps too. Good luck and enjoy!
posted May 5 2010 1:34PM - dardennegal, Dardenne Prairie

Sorry, Cathy. I spelled your name wrong!
posted May 5 2010 1:35PM - dardennegal, Dardenne Prairie

Distance - just listen to your body

Essential Equipment:
Helmet - $50.00 and up at bike shops or REI, cheaper ones are not advisable. And wear it properly, with the front down near your eyes, never pushed back on the head. There are more things on the trail to bang your head on.
Eye protection - Impact resistant sunglasses, preferably wrap-arounds. Branches, small rocks, bugs, dust in the eyes aren't fun.
Riding gloves should be an early purchase. The padding will be helpful and protect your hands when you fall.....and everyone falls sooner or later.

A pair of high quality riding shorts, typically $60.00 and up at bike shops or REI. Look for established brands, PI, Canaria, Specialized, etc. You do NOT want shorts with a HUGE pad, just find a womens pair from a name manufacturer.

Two water bottles, 32 to 48 oz total capacity, there aren't any water stops before Defiance.

Virtually no one ends up with the seat that came on their bike. Just ride yours until you get a feel for what is comfortable. AND don't fall for the gel saddle. They are horribly uncomfortable and defeat the purpose of good bike shorts. Oh yeah, I know this may sound odd but DON'T wear underwear under the bike shorts. No one does, cotton holds moisture which quickly leads to rashes.

Once you have some time in the saddle (who cares about miles), go to a good bike shop and get fitted for a saddle. Trek and Specialized have devices that measure you for the correct size and usually have a return period if you don't like that particular saddle.

One last thing, learn to fix a flat and what you need to carry (see bike shop), BUT before you do that, get two inner tubes that fit your tires and carry them with you. Myself and many others would happily help you with a flat but chances are, we wouldn't have the correct size innertube.

Now, get your gear, get on the bike and ride, ride, ride.
posted May 6 2010 2:01PM - Anonymous

St. Charles should have a "bigger" LBS (Local Bike Shop) who will sometimes have "beginner"
maintenance classes that cover the essentials for bikin' the KATY. These classes are
sometimes women only classes so you can get into a comfort zone for learning. Believe me
its not rocket science, but the skills taught are critical. BTW my ride in middle April '10...4
flats in three days. I couldn't remember when I had 4 flats in a month while riding when car-
less for 8 years!! Yup those skills are critical. Kindest Regards
posted May 7 2010 11:59AM - The Dalton Boys, Austin, Texas

Tags: Jefferson City, St Charles, Defiance, Weldon Spring, Greens Bottom Trailhead, Page Bridge parking lot, Restaurants, Bike Shops, Water, Other Trails, St Louis, Weather, Running, Tires Modify Tags

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