A friend and I are in our early 50's and one of the things on our "bucket" list is to branch out and do something crazy- like ride the Katy trail! We are not experienced riders but do ride a few times a week, mainly on concrete and sometimes trails. We are "training" to possibly ride the entire route within a week sometime in September or October. I would invite any suggestions on clothing, training, expenses,type of bike and tires, type of back pack, etc. We are planning on starting in Clinton and finishing up in Machens. At the present time I have a Cannondale F600 bike with knobby tires- appreciate your suggestions! God Bless
posted May 17 2013 8:42PM
- Mark, Bartlett TN
I'm late 50s and try to ride Clinton-St. Charles every year. Have made several trips across.
You'll get lots of great advise here. Take it all as opinion (including my comments) and make the choices that make you comfortable and happy...and have a blast.
Here is my 2 cents..
I like to travel light and carry as little as possible...a change of clothes for evening, a toothbrush, a credit card, a couple tools, a few tubes and a patch kit. I use hotels and B&Bs.
I ride in lycra bike clothes because I find them comfortable. I wash them out when I arrive and they are dry and ready to go the next morning.
My wife takes me to Clinton and drops me off. I ride to Boonville and usually stay at the Casino (now that they let bikes in). Day 2 I usually ride to Dollhouse B&B in Rhineland. Day 3 into St. Charles and stay at the Country Inn right on the trail downtown. Easy walk downtown for a good meal that evening. Day 4 I ride back to Hermann in the morning and catch Amtrak back to KS in the evening. Wife picks me up there and home we go.
On the KATY, I ride a single speed bike with 28mm tires with AWESOME FLAT PROTECTION. IF I COULD ONLY OFFER ONE PIECE OF ADVISE...MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD FLAT PROTECTION TIRES. I hate changing flats and there are plenty of things that can flatten your tires on the KATY if you're not prepared. The single speed bike works great for me. (I also rode the KATY on a cross bike with 32mm knobby tires. I found them sluggish and wider than I needed/wanted.)
Again - that's just my 2 cents. You'll hear other advise that's different. It's not wrong....it's just different. Ride what you have as long as it's comfortable!
posted May 17 2013 9:41PM
Nike made a bajillion dollars on this slogan for a reason: Just Do It! If you ride a few times a week already you will be fine.
A couple points: Get a bike rack. Don't carry your stuff in a backpack. Your local bike shop will get you started on a rack.
Two: Get some longer rides in before you start. Get accustomed to going at least 30-40 miles without incident. Obviously the more fit you are the better, but truly you don't need a high level of fitness. You just need to acclimate the body to long rides.
Much more advice where this came from. Main thing is to just do it.
posted May 18 2013 5:51AM
I have been out around sections close to St. Louis most weekends with my family. We have a variety of bikes and tires, and all work fine, including road bikes (with fairly skinny tires - 28mm).
We have never had a flat tire, but I still worry about it every trip. There can be an issue with thorns in some sections (near Machens?) based on other comment threads.
Two other words of advice:
1. The wind can be your friend or enemy. Pay attention to the forecast, and peherpa plan shorter days if you have a strong headwind.
2. Call ahead to make sure critical food stops are still in business or open when you need them.
posted May 19 2013 2:57PM
- Dave, STL
I echo the comments about flat protection. If you are going in Sep-Oct, you will likely see the dreaded goathead thorns. Go to your local bike shop and tell them you are going to be riding in thorns and they will fix you up. They have thorn-resistant tubes and tires. The other benefit I have found is that they seem to hold the air longer.
As for being ready, if you can ride 50 miles comfortably on flat roads, you can probably do 35-40 on the Katy (extra resistance due to limestone friction).
Plan plenty of time to stop and take pictures and to enjoy/support the local towns. Why force a 3-day killer trip when a 6-day pleasurable trip will make you want to come back again?
Pack light but make sure to drink lots of gatorade or equivalent, even if it does not seem hot. And since I am 52, I would suggest you also take your favorite "recovery" tablet -- Aleve or similar.
posted May 19 2013 7:41PM
- Don, Ellisville, MO
All good advice, but the first comment Hank made is the most important. NO BACKPACK. Your butt on the saddle is the weak link. Do you want more weight pushing down on your butt or on the bike frame? Also weight high is harder to handle. Saddle sore will kill the trip faster than anything. I like a trailer but saddle bags work fine and are less money and you don't need a trailer unless you are camping. Then the abilty to pack odd shaped gear down LOW is well worth it.
posted May 19 2013 7:57PM
- Doug, Bluffton
The camping option is good but if you want to travel lighter staying at B&Bs or hotels works for me if you want to pay for it. Plus the back, bottom and legs, being in your 50's get more rest in a bed between the long days in the saddle. Also Sept/Oct you are getting into weather swings with rain, so camping in the rain is not a good time for me. Anon has it right.
posted May 20 2013 8:28AM
A friend and I are getting ready for our 12th(?) Katy Trail trip, and love it! Pack VERY light, just something to wear in the evening and your toothbrush. Nearly every B&B and small hotel allows you to do laundry, or you can wash your bike shorts and shirt and socks out in the sink. I prefer a small square bag on a rack to panniers (saddle bags) because it doesn't weigh you down as much and forces you to pack only the necessities. Do take a light rain jacket, because MO weather is unpredictable.
Just DO IT, and enjoy!!! We are in our late 50's, and typically don't bike at all between our annual trips on the Katy Trail. And we do just fine. Oh, ride west to east (toward St Charles) for more downhill ease.
We love doing around 40-45 miles per day. It doesn't kill you, and allows time in the evening to enjoy a good meal, wine (you're biking thru MO's wine region, after all), and conversation. I've (fingers crossed, knocking on wood) never had a flat on the Katy Trail, but it's happened often to people I ride with. The thorns are terrible!
posted May 23 2013 8:59PM
- Beth, Tucson AZ