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Report on the Katy -- Section III, Observations

(Last prior installment is Report on the Katy – Section II, Bike and Gear)

The Katy is a lovely railtrail and I loudly applaud the State of Missouri for creating and maintaining it. The facilities are admirable and the wildlife is interesting; I got some good pix of turkeys and turtles. The trail surface is generally smooth and consistent and the trail seems welcoming to all levels of riders. That’s a good thing and we need more of it in this country.

But the Katy is not my favorite railtrail. I think this is a horses-for-courses thing. The Katy seems most attractive to the quite-casual rider. Its level of adventure is below what I seem to need. In a phrase, it’s too flat and straight for my tastes.

It occurred to me, during some long, flat, straight sections of the Katy, that my mood varies pretty much directly with bike speed. Below about 13 mph, my good feeling decreases as speed decreases. Between about 13 mph and about 39 mph, my mood lifts as speed increases. Above about 39 mph, focus takes over and I have no discernible mood, although fear is never far away.

I’m not psychologically equipped to enjoy sitting and grinding. I don’t mind climbing if there is a pay-off, a descent where I can sit back, tuck in and feel the landscape rushing by. There is really none of this on the Katy and there’s not enough variety in the terrain, unlike, say, on the C&O, to distract me.

That said, here are some thoughts:

1. The Katy’s biggest deficit: water. At times I got the sense that the Katy was designed by people who don’t ride bikes very far. At trailhead after trailhead, I encountered elaborate restrooms . . . and no water. I vented my frustration with this to various other trail users, and most agreed that this is a serious deficiency. I never talked to anyone who said, Oh, there’s plenty of water on the Katy.

Almost all of us who ride or hike can pee wherever we ride or hike, b
posted May 14 2015 6:35PM - Dr. Skeep, Tucson, AZ

So, Dr. Skeep, you didn't find the Katy adventurous enough? And you are happiest at up to 39 MPH? Adventure is what you make it. Why not try to ride the whole thing in a day, like several people have?
posted May 15 2015 7:43AM - Tom Seeger, Ottawa, KS

Know what your saying, Trail can be so boring at times. To combat this I jump on my unicycle, pop on the old blindfold and take off. Lost a few teeth this way (no one in Mokane minds much),but sure keeps me from being bored. Give it a try, see what you think...
posted May 15 2015 9:40AM - Billy, Mokane

Billy, priceless ... Thx for the laugh (or groan).
posted May 15 2015 11:11AM - Donna, Shawnee, KS

Searching "water" from the homepage search, the below list was compiled from a thread started sometime back about locations of water along the Katy:

Clinton - running water at trailhead
Calhoun - the trailhead is up a slight hill and I'm not sure (anyone?), but if you cut over to the main road, there is a gas station with most anything you would need.
Windsor - running water at trailhead. Also a Casey's directly across for any other needs/wants.
GreenRidge - running water at trailhead and Casey's just north of trailhead on main road.
Sedalia - running water at the depot trailhead
Clifton city - no water at trailhead
Pilot Grove - running water at trailhead and grocery store directly across.
Boonville - running water at trailhead.
New Franklin - water at trailhead. Caseys downtown north.
Rocheport - water at trailhead. Cafes/B&B's downtown nearby.
McBaine - water at trailhead. Bar-grill nearby west.
Hartsburg - water at trailhead. Cafe/bar-grill/B&B's near trail.
North Jefferson - water at trailhead. Downtown south.
Tebbetts - no water at trailhead. Water at shelter and bar-grill.
Mokane - no water at trailhead. Water at the market, 2-blocks north.
Portland - no water at trailhead. Bar-grill nearby north.
Bluffton (not a trailhead); B&B and campground nearby.
Rhineland (not a trailhead); bar-cafe on the strip (restrooms).
McKittrick - water at trailhead. Convenience store 1/2-mile south.
Treloar - no water at trailhead. Bar-grill nearby with open sink.
Peers - (not a trailhead); well-frequented store near trail.
Marthasville - no water at trailhead. Gas station and pop-machines.
Dutzow - water at trailhead. Bar-cafe next to trailhead.
Augusta - no water at trailhead. Cafe downtown north.
Matson - no water at trailhead. Wineries in vicinity.
Defiance (not a trailhead); bargrills/B&B near trail.
Weldon Springs - no water at trail
posted May 15 2015 12:14PM - Anonymous

One of the things I love about the Katy is that it is as challenging as you are willing to make it! It's great for a leisurely short ride and can be a great challenge to ride all out and have a great time!

The water is a little scarce on the east end of the trail, but plenty of water the rest of the way. I appreciate the bathrooms! : )
posted May 15 2015 8:37PM - sharonbikes, Kansas City

For the anonymous list. The last time I rode the trail, the Marthasville trailhead didn't have an outside water fountain or spigot, but its restrooms had inside running-water sinks.
posted May 16 2015 8:55AM - Anon, Greater KC

And oddly enough, we had a harder time finding water at the park in St Charles. The water in the bathrooms automatically mixes with soap. Eeeew. We went to the casino to get water.
posted May 16 2015 10:21AM - Sharonbikes, Kansas City

Well, I like the protectiveness of the commenters here, but I hope it was clear that I wasn't dissing the Katy. I went to (perhaps overly?) great lengths in Section I, and somewhat in Section II, to reveal where my biases may come from. As for my ranking, I'd be interested in how others of you place the Katy within the available U.S. railtrails.

Tom Seeger -- I like to camp and I'm too old and I don't do railtrails to impress others with my prowess, so these one-day all-out efforts, while I admire them -- like the guys who run the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim -- are not my thing. I railtrail to enjoy the environment, not for the numbers, and I was commenting on the quality of the environment.

Billy -- your defensiveness suggests you thought I was attacking your Market, rather than defending it. If you carefully reread my post, you'll note that I didn't use or imply the word or the concept "boring". I haven't been bored for more than half a century. Too much going on. Let me know if you think I actually mischaracterized some part of the Katy Trail experience, eh. (But your post did remind me, humorously, of the title of a Baltimore Sun piece commenting on a recent news story: "Ben Carson panders to southerners by letting his teeth fall out." Thnx.)

sharonbikes -- Well . . . not quite true, eh. You can't make the Katy challenge you with serious descents, e.g.

Sharonbikes -- (Are you related to the lower-case one?) I had a similar experience with the St. Charles park. Ended up going to the Lewis & Clark museum. Asked for a faucet to fill my bottles and the museum guy brought me a cold bottle of water. Typical of the people I met on the Katy: friendly and helpful.

posted May 16 2015 11:59AM - Dr. Skeep, Tucson, AZ

Tags: Windsor, Augusta, Mokane, Sedalia, Machens, Augusta Winery, Steamboat Junction Campground, Mokane Market, Missouri State Fairgrounds, Farrington Park, City Park, Klondike Park, Dotty's Cafe, Restaurants, Camping, Water, Restrooms, Other Trails, Amtrak, Weather, Animals and Plants, Hiking, Running, Horseback Modify Tags

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