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Katy Trail Ride

September 13-19, 2003

Seven Days - 262 miles

By Larry Plumlee


About six years ago, my kids were wanting a couple of mountain bikes, so I decided to buy one also. It had been many years since I'd had a bike. I had purchased a 10-speed in my late teens. My wife and I were married in 1977 when I was 21 and she 20. When our first daughter was a year or so old, I bought a "kiddy carrier" that mounted over the rear wheel of my bike. We would often go for short rides. However, as our family and business grew, I found little time to ride, and eventually the bike was put away.

My new bike that I purchased with the kids was a Schwinn Frontier, a 21-speed mountain bike. Most of our riding was on many of the country backroads (mostly dirt). I also did some road riding, so a year or so later, I bought a used Bianchi road bike. Before long, I was riding my bike to work a day or two a week (about 6.75 miles each way). My wife never enjoyed biking, and the kids never liked to ride more than a few miles. On occasion I would find someone who liked to ride 20-40 miles, and we'd take a longer ride. I always enjoyed joking about how my wife didn't mind me riding with other women, especially since one of them was a cardiac rehab nurse!

About 4 years ago, I attempted my first biking "marathon". Each year, there are bike rides all over the country to raise money for multiple sclerosis. They are a two-day, 150 mile ride, so it is known as the "MS 150". The Arkansas ride that year started in Benton (just southwest of Little Rock). We looped down toward Hot Springs and spent the night near Arkadelphia. The next day, the ride continued to loop around Malvern and finished up back in Benton.

All went fairly well the first day. I had never ridden more than about 40 miles in one day, so the 75 miles in one day was a bit of a strain for me. It's not a race, just a ride to raise money for MS. So, it wasn't important that out of about 100 riders that started, I finished third to the last. The two riders right behind me were a couple of ladies, ages 63 and 67!

The next day I only did about 30 miles and had to stop, as I was having a lot of pain in my left calf muscle. So, I did a little over 100 miles in those two days. I was happy.

I continued to enjoy riding. I especially enjoyed the many country backroads, as long as there are not too many mountains to climb. While surfing the internet, I found information on the Katy Trail. Built on an old railroad bed, the trail begins in Clinton, Missouri and goes north to Boonville where it crosses the Missouri River. It then follows the Missouri River down to St. Charles. The trail covers about 225 miles. It is the longest of several "rails to trails" projects in the country. A couple of years ago, I had to make a business trip that took me through Jefferson City, Missouri, which is on the trail. So, I took my bike and rode about 18 miles east with a friend. I was hooked! Someday, I was going to have to ride the whole thing.

Four things attracted me to the trail... #1 flat surface, only an occasional slight incline, #2 smooth surface, covered with crushed limestone, #3 no motorized traffic allowed on the trail, and #4 scenic views. If you want to know more about the Katy Trail, check out this link:

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