The weather was sunny, cool, with a light breeze as I was leaving Sedalia. About 4 miles out of town, I was on state highways, with light or no traffic, but lots of hills. The mental jukebox had already started repeating Barry McGuire with the New Christy Minstrels “Green Green – it’s green up there on the far side of the hill …” as I was constantly going up one hill, then down another multiple times per mile. This was a consequence of my decision to bypass the Katy Trail as my main path to Columbia.
My bad experience in Iola, KS made me gun shy about taking Hidalgo and his narrow tires on the trail. I feared the poor traction, uneven surface, and extra rolling resistance I had experienced before. The back roads still gave me scenic views, including a close, but safe encounter with a skunk. When I got to Booneville, I stopped for a snack, filled the water bottles and was ready to continue on the roads. However, I met a guy on a recumbent bike and he told me the Katy Trail was in good enough shape – even for the narrow tires of a road bike. He also warned me that US 40 had little to no shoulder in 5 miles. It was at least 30 to Columbia. I crossed the Missouri River on a bridge that had a dedicated, separate lane for foot and bike traffic.
I met a young couple half way across. We traded turns taking pictures. I told them about my ride and mentoring. I was pleased to discover that she was mentoring kids through the Boys and Girls Club.
My recumbent riding friend was right. I was only a mile on US 40 when the shoulder disappeared and traffic was getting a little heavy. I made a beeline for the first place where I could get on the Katy Trail in New Franklin (which was, of course, adjacent to plain old Franklin). The Katy Trail was flat and very rideable – even for a loaded Hidalgo. It was scenic, had trees for shade and to block the wind. It wasn’t as smooth rolling as a road, but there were no hills.
Because I had chosen roads over the trail for the first 38 miles, my 72 mile journey ended up as a 77 miles trip. My last five miles were off the trail, back on streets to my Warm Showers hosts, Ed and Betty James. Ed answered the door and secured Hidalgo in the garage.
After a hot shower, we sat down to grilled meat, baked potatoes, corn, and fruit salad. I couldn’t resist a brownie – make that two! We traded stories of my trip, their many bicycling adventures, and then compared notes on the best route to Bowling Green, my next destination. It was a welcome finish to a long stretch on the trail.
The Lone Rider