Day 6 – New Franklin, MO to Clinton, Mo to Sedalia, MO

We woke up on Wednesday morning at Katy Roundhouse in New Franklin, MO. We left at 10 am for what I though was going to be an easy day of riding to Sedalia, MO.

There was a detour West of New Franklin for trail repair.

We rode to Pilot Grove, MO and ate at Katrina’s Restaurant – had a cheeseburger, corn fritters and apple pie, and tea. It hit the spot.

Katy Trail - Pilot Grove, MO.

Katy Trail – Pilot Grove, MO.

Lunch at Katrina's Restaurant, Pilot Grove, MO.

Lunch at Katrina’s Restaurant, Pilot Grove, MO.

After lunch I felt energized and asked my friend Bobby if I could leave him and ride ahead to Clinton, MO and back to Sedialia, MO. My friend had bike repair gear, a phone, food, and water. I left him about 12 miles before Sedalia and rode ahead at a faster pace. Upon reaching Sedalia, I dropped by bags at our Sedalia campsite location. My friend would rid into town later and set up camp. For my quick ride from Sedalia, I only took essentials – bike repair kit, snacks, water, phone, wallet, light, map, helmet. The weather was pleasant. I left Sedalia at 3:45 pm.

Katy Trail - Windsor, MO depot.

Katy Trail – Windsor, MO depot.

There was a sandy section of the trail between Windsor and Green Ridge. The riding was slower there, but I had mountain bike tires to get through the sand. I saw some riders pushing their bikes through the sandy section.

Katy Trail - Clinton, MO depot.

Katy Trail – Clinton, MO depot.

I arrived at the Clinton, MO depot at 6:45 pm. I snapped photos, ate breakfast bar and chips, filled up on water and went to restroom. Headed out from Clinton, back to Sedalia at 7 pm. I stopped in Windsor, MO and ate two slices of pizza from Casey’s General Store, a drink, and fruit snacks for dinner. Due to the length of the ride, I did some night riding. The night was filled with the sound of crickets, breeze, and an occasional nocturnal animal.

I rode into the Missouri State Fairgrounds Campground, took a shower and went to bed in my tent. The campground had water, restrooms, and hot showers. The campground was in town, was lit very bright at night time and was next to a a very loud factory (an Owens Corning factory  across the street from the campground). Due to the lights and the loud factory across the street, I did not sleep very well.

I rode 118 miles that day (including detours due to flooding damage).

Day 7 – Sedalia, MO to St Louis, MO to Plano, TX

Day 5 – Tebbetts, MO to New Franklin, MO

We woke up at 7 am Tuesday morning and ate breakfast in the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO. We packed up our bikes, saddled up, and began riding westward about 8:30 am. We stopped at the North Jefferson trailhead depot to fill our water bottles, eat a snack, and take a break.

Katy Trail Depot - North Jefferson, MO.

Katy Trail Depot – North Jefferson, MO.

We rode to Hartsburg for lunch,  but nothing was open. We took a break at Hartsburg and enjoyed the chimes of a church bell (many small towns along the Katy Trail have church bells that chime on the hour). We rode on. I got a flat on my rear tire west of Hartsburg. I changed the flat in 20 minutes and rolled on.

Repairing a flat tire on the Katy Trail

Repairing a flat tire on the Katy Trail

Around Wilton, MO, we met a gravel rider who lived in Columbia, MO. He was out riding gravel roads on his gravel bike. He rode with us about five miles and told us about the flooding, trail conditions, and local detours. The trail was muddy in places and it was slow going.

Katy Trail - Cooper's Landing.

Katy Trail – Cooper’s Landing.

We ate lunch east of Easley, MO, at Coopers Landing. The establishment was located on the banks of the Missouri River. It had significant flood damage and the owner was still working to repair his establishment before he could open for business. We sat at picnic tables and ate from supplies on our bikes (trail mix, breakfast bars, water, etc). The river  was high stage (still running swiftly with high volume, even months after the spring floods).

Katy Trail - Rocheport, MO Depot.

Katy Trail – Rocheport, MO Depot.

We rode west, following a major detour from Rocheport to New Franklin. Our gravel-riding friend from Columbia, MO informed us that that section of the trail was impassable – sections of the trail had silt five foot deep where the river had covered the trail and dumped large volumes of mud and silt. We followed paved highways (highways 40 and 240) in our detour from Rocheport, MO to New Franklin, MO. We stopped to get dinner and supplies at a Casey’s General Store in New Franklin, MO.

Then we rode to our camping destination – Katy Roundhouse in New Franklin. It was $10 per person per night to tent camp at Katy Roundhouse. This cost included drinking water, hot showers, and restrooms. We visited with John, the owner while he was out mowing grass on a riding lawn mower.

Katy Roundhouse stage - New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse stage – New Franklin, MO.

Camping on the Katy Roundhouse stage - New Franklin, MO.

Camping on the Katy Roundhouse stage – New Franklin, MO.

We inquired about his unique covered stage. He told us he built it for the Pedaler’s Jamboree. It was decorated with various items found in his barn. It also held some hay for their horses. The weather forecast called for a significant chance of rain – so we asked if it would be okay to pitch our tents under the roof of his stage. He said that would be okay. So we pitched our tents on the stage and avoided rain showers that night. We ate dinner, took showers, and went to bed about 9:30 pm.

Camping on the Katy Roundhouse stage - New Franklin, MO.

Camping on the Katy Roundhouse stage – New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse - New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse – New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse - New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse – New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse - New Franklin, MO.

Katy Roundhouse – New Franklin, MO.

We rode 67.2 miles for the day (including several detours that added 10 miles to day’s ride).

Day 6 – New Franklin, MO to Clinton, Mo to Sedalia, MO

Day 4 – Marthasville, MO to Tebbetts, MO

We arose about 6:30 am on Monday morning, ate breakfast from our supplies, and got some hot coffee from a convenience store in Marthasville. We broke camp, packed our bikes, got on the trail by about 8:15 am.

We headed west out of Marthasville on the Katy Trail. Some of the Katy Trail follows Lewis and Clark’s expedition in the 1800’s (their exploration after the Louisiana Purchase). As we rode along, we saw trail signs marking the path of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. The trail was shady and beautiful.

We intended to stop for lunch in Rhineland, but it was Monday and the only restaurant in town was closed Mondays. So we filled up on water and rolled on toward Blufton. We stopped at the Steamboat Junction campground (located right on the trail). The Steamboat Junction owner keeps a refrigerator inside a shelter. The refrigerator is stocked with snacks and drinks (chips, Gatorade, water) with prices marked. There is a drop slot for your money – it is unmanned and on the honor system. We bought some items from the refrigerator and ate lunch from our supplies, sitting under the shade of a tree in chairs provided by the Steamboat Junction owner – right next to the trail. It was a beautiful day – we felt rested after eating lunch and sitting in a nice place in the shade.

We got back on our bikes and rolled west. Just west of Portland, MO to just east of Steedman, MO, there was a detour. The spring rains had caused a large landslide where some earth had detached from a bluff and had covered the trail. We took the detour using paved highway 94.

Standing Rock on the Katy Trail near Steedman, MO.

Standing Rock on the Katy Trail near Steedman, MO.

We intended to eat dinner in Mokane, MO. Bit it was Monday and the Mokane Bar and Grill was closed on Mondays. The Mokane Market was open (a convenience store on the main street in town). We ate there. The store’s owner told us about the devestation caused by the spring 2019 flood. We saw the flood’s water lines on the side of brick buildings as we rode through town.

Katy Trail depot - Tebbetts, MO.

Katy Trail depot – Tebbetts, MO.

We rode on to Tebbets, MO, arriving about 6:00 pm. We found our destination – the Turner Katy Trail Shelter Hostel. It was a large building that had been a store, and was donated to a charity to provide a place for Katy Trail users to stay overnight. The shelter had many bunk beds, hot showers, restroom, a refrigerator, air conditioning, indoor lighting, power plugs, a bike repair room, and bike racks to park/lock your bike. We were the only people using the shelter that night. We took our showers, did some bike maintenance in the bike repair room, and discussed our next day’s riding plan. We went to sleep about 10 pm an slept well on the bunk bed mattresses. We paid for our stay there using the drop box and left an extra donation to support the shelter.

Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO.

Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO.

Bike repair room in the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO.

Bike repair room in the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO.

We rode 57 miles that day (including trail detours for flood damage).

Day 5 – Tebbetts, MO to New Franklin, MO

Palo Duro Canyon 2017


I took a trip to Palo Duro Canyon to ride off-road in June 2017. Wanted to take a week-long trip to a the Pacific Northwest, but with two daughters getting married this summer, the investment (of time and money) in a mountain biking trip was curtailed.

So I planned a short trip where I could take a car-ride, and spend less time and money. I had been to Palo Duro Canyon many years ago (short half-day, non-biking trip) with my family. So I checked out the Palo Duro Canyon State Park off-road trails on the park’s website and planned the trip.

Through the magic of Facebook, I recently re-connected with a college friend who rode mountain bikes. I met David Connel at the University of Texas at Austin. We had lost touch after college, but 33 years later re-connected on Facebook. He and his wife Amy are very active in outdoor activities (hiking, biking, skiing, camping, etc), and so I invited them to go with me to Palo Duro Canyon. David and I had not seen each other for 33 years, and I had never met Amy.

We loaded up our bikes and camping gear and drove out to Palo Duro Canyon. David and Amy drove their 4-wheel drive, extended-cab pickup truck with a bike rack on the back. We visited on the six hour drive from Plano, Texas to Palo Duro Canyon, beginning to catch up on the last 33 years of life. It was wonderful to share all the stories, joys, and sorrows of our lives.

Arriving in the mid-afternoon, at Cactus Camp, we unloaded our bikes and gear. I brought a Specialized Carve hardtail mountain bike with 29 inch wheels and disc brakes. We rode out to explore the canyon’s off-road biking trails for the first time. We rode the Lighthouse Trail, a moderate trail, hiked from the trail’s end to the park’s iconic Lighthouse rock formation, and back down the trail to our campsite. The ride was a good short ride to check out the park (about 9 miles).


After the exploratory ride, we made dinner and visited. I slept in my hammock, while David and Amy slept in the bed of their pickup truck. Went to sleep listening to the night sounds of a light breeze in the mesquite trees, crickets chirping their rhythmic song , a few raccoons rummaging through camp, and coyotes yip-yip-howling into the night. It was good to be camping in God’s creation.

The next morning we woke up to the sound morning sounds of many species of birds – doves cooing, woodpeckers tapping, wild turkeys gobbling, sparrows chirping, roadrunners, swifts, and swallows. A few wild turkeys would roam through our campsite several times over the next few days. We ate breakfast, geared up our hydration packs with water and supplies, and mounted up.

It was a warm, sunny day. We rode the Capitol Peak Trail, the Juniper Cliffside Trail, and the Juniper Riverside Trail back to our campsite. Ate lunch at our campsite. Amy stayed at camp while David and I and headed out to ride the Sunflower Trail, the Rojo Grande Trail, the Paseo del Rio Trail, the Givens Spicer Lowry Trail, and the Lighthouse Trail. We returned to camp on the Rojo Grande Trail and recovered, getting rehydrated and eating recovery food. I rode about 20 miles that day (see trail maps for details).


We changed into fresh clothes and took the truck to the outdoor amphitheater in the canyon floor. We bought tickets to the barbecue dinner and the Texas Outdoor Musical. The barbecue dinner hit the spot after a day’s ride – beef brisket, pulled pork, sausage, beans, potato salad, cole slaw, bread, peach cobbler, cherry cobbler, and other fixings. The musical was held in the outdoor amphitheater that held about 1,000 people – it comprised colorful costumes, lively dancing, singing, splendid fireworks, and drama about Texas and the local canyon. We returned to camp, showered and slept the night.

The next morning we awoke, ate breakfast, and saddled up for a hard day’s work – a ride from the canyon floor to the canyon rim. We rode the steep climb up the Rock Garden Trail to the Palo Duro Canyon Rim. The climb was filled with rock, boulders, and gravel – a rise in elevation of about 900 feet. Several places I got off and pushed the bike up the steep inclines, trail switchbacks, step ups, and rock structures. Had one fall near the top of the climb to the canyon’s rim. There was a large boulder encroaching onto the side of the thin singletrack trail along the canyon wall’s edge. My handlebars hit the boulder and I fell downhill into some bushes. I was thankful for the bushes – I landed on them (rather than on hard rock) and I was able to grab hold of them to keep me from tumbling down the steep slope of the cliffside. I extricated myself from the bushes, checked for injuries (minor abrasions on my lower legs), collected my bike and rode upward. I was glad for the cloud cover during the ride, keeping the temperature relatively cool (mid-80’s F) for most of the morning. We reached the rim about 10:30 am and rode the relatively flat Rylander Fortress Trail along the rim’s edge.


Then we headed back down the Rock Garden Trail from the canyon’s rim to the canyon floor. The ride down was technical and fun, riding both brakes to slow the descent speed, negotiating the trail’s switchbacks, step downs and rock structures. I got off the bike a few times to walk a few of the tougher obstacles.

We returned to camp, ate lunch and recovered from the morning ride. David and I rode Rojo Grande Trail, Paseo del Rio Trail, Givens Spicer Lowry Trail, Lighthouse Trail and returned to camp via the Rojo Grande Trail. I rode about 23 off-road miles that day.

We ate dinner, visited, showered and went to bed. I went to sleep thankful for good friends, grateful for the health God has given me, and amazed at all that God created at Palo Duro Canyon!

The next morning we awoke, packed up and left Palo Duro Canyon for the drive back to Plano, Texas. If you get a chance to ride Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas, it is worth the trip.

 

My Great Big Bend, Oregon Mountain Biking Adventure

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Last week (July 2016) I finished a mountain biking trip in Bend, Oregon. The trip included seven days of riding, camping in a hammock, and exploring the town of Bend.

It was a spectacular trip!

I biked 277 miles, rode 18 of the trails in the Bend area (just a small fraction of the mountain biking trails in the Bend area).

The trip was filled with spectacular mountain trails, high desert landscape, challenging climbs, and thrilling descents. The entire week was a refreshing break.

Here is what I learned…

  • Bend, Oregon is one of the best places to ride in the USA. Hundreds of miles of well-marked trails and a large number of rainless days allow for a wonderful mountain biking ecosystem. In my seven days of riding, I only rode a small fraction of the vast number of trails available in the Bend area.
  • People in Oregon are kind and helpful to visitors. I always received a kind greeting and a helping hand wherever I went.
  • God gave me good health and allowed me to the encounter another small slice of the vast universe he created. I am thankful to God and acknowledge his wonder, power, and creativity. It is his world, and he allows me to live in it.

Below are my daily experiences, filled with photos, maps, and descriptions of my rides. I hope that you use my experiences to gain a perspective about Bend and that you benefit from my experience …

Day Before the Bend Mountain Biking Trip

Day One – Eugene to Bend

Day Two – Into The Wild

Day Three – Mountain Biking is Art

Day Four – Moving Day

Day Five – Dirt Paths of Life

Day Six – Marianne and Houdini

Day Seven – Easy Day

Day Eight – Last Day (Perfect Day)

Day Four – Moving Day

Woke up at 6 am. It was 39 degrees for a low last night (brrrrrrr). I stayed warm all bundled up in my hammock.

Ate breakfast – granola, nuts, and hot tea. Used a MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove to heat water for oatmeal and for tea/cocoa. It was good to eat something warm after a cold night.

Today is moving day. I had planned  to stay seven days at Tumalo State Park. But when I checked in, the ranger told me I could only stay three days – this was a complete surprise to me as I had called ahead and mentioned that I was planning on staying a week, and asked how bikers can camp there. At no time during the phone call did the ranger mention that there was a three day limit for hiker/biker campers. I checked the state park website for rules/restrictions. The state park’s website had no mention of a three day camping limit for hikers/bikers. Neither was the unpublished rule posted on the park’s signage. The state park website allows car campers to book reservations more than seven sequential days. But hiker/biker campers can only stay three days.

There were many extra camping spots at the hiker/biker area of the camp. I explained all this to the park rangers and I requested special dispensation from the rangers.  But the park rangers seemed to be more bureaucrat types, less customer service oriented types (a typical government operation), fond of stating the unpublished rule (a rule found nowhere on their website, not on the park’s signage, and not mentioned on the phone when I called ahead to plan the trip), and apparently the park rangers seemed unmoved by reasonable logic.

Having such an unpublished rule, and then refusing to extend grace to a camper who asks for an exception to the unpublished rule is not a particularly helpful way to treat guests. I asked the rangers to update their website to inform hiker/biker campers of the unpublished three day limit.

So I broke camp. I was the only person in the hiker biker camp and had to leave, according to the ranger bureaucracy, leaving zero hiker/biker campers at the campsite. I packed up, loaded all the gear on my back, and rode my bike the six miles into Bend, loaded down with gear. There are no other campsites around Bend, so I checked into a Motel 6.

Next, I rode west out of Bend. Bend is a “bike-friendly” town. Well-marked bike lanes are everywhere, with signs informing vehicle drivers of bike lanes. People ride everywhere in and around Bend. And Bend drivers are careful with riders and pedestrians, stopping if a rider or pedestrian is at a crosswalk, always looking for them. Bend drivers made a very positive impression on me. This is a far cry from Plano, Texas (near Dallas) where drivers seem to have a distinct dislike for bike riders – a biker takes his life into his own hands when he rides the roads around Dallas. Plano and Dallas are some of the least bike-friendly cities in the world.

I rode out of Bend, up Skyliner Road to Phil’s trailhead. There, I hung out in the whoop-de-do section at the trailhead (here I am in the short video below).

Trail marker at the top of Lower Whoops trail, part of the Phil’s trail complex.

Climbed up Ben’s trail (5.5 miles) to Lower Whoops trail (1.8 miles). Took Lower Whoops trail down (1.8 miles), kicking up dust to Phil’s trail and took Phil’ trail down (6.1 miles).  Stopped to take a photo of the chicken, in mid-trail.

The “Flaming Chicken” on Phil’s trail near Bend, Oregon.

 

Today is the first clear day – you can see Mt. Bachelor and Sisters Peaks.

Sisters peaks in the distance.

I biked back down to Bend and ate a burger at a local restaurant. Rode 32 miles today. It was also Free Slurpee Day (July 11 – 7/11), so I got a cold slurpee (thanks 7-Eleven, it hot the spot).

Mountain biking is a rush – one must stay constantly alert, assessing the terrain ahead while negotiating obstacles. Leaning into banked curves, negotiating rock gardens, and landing jumps takes skill, coordination, and snap judgement. Trees do NOT move. Wise mountain bikers choose their line carefully…

In addition, mountain biking is great way to stay fit. Biking up the mountains around Bend, Oregon is challenging for this flatlander who lives at 600 feet altitude in Plano, Texas. The higher altitude makes for less oxygen – climbing is a challenge, especially with less oxygen. Bend is at 3,500 feet altitude, and the Bend area trails go upwards from there.

Much challenging riding out there. But hey, If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

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Day Five – Dirt Paths of Life

Day Three – Mountain Biking is Art

Woke up at 5 am, but laid in my hammock until 6 am. It was 47 degrees F for a low last night. Wore wool socks, gloves, hat, and fleece pullover while sleeping. My shelter included a sleeping bag placed on top of a thermal pad inside a hammock covered with a rainfly.

Hammock with rainfly.

Ate breakfast – oatmeal, nuts, dried fruit, and hot cocoa.

I made an animal-proof canister to store food and to store other items that contained a scent (soap, shampoo, etc). Had a problem on last year’s bikepacking trip with chipmunks chewing  through my storage bags to get to my food. Not this year – I built an animal-proof canister out of heavy duty PVC pipe. Cut the PVC pipe to desired length. Put an endcap on one end of the pipe and placed a threaded endcap on the other end of the pipe. Chipmunks and other animals (bears, raccoons, and cougars) can’t unscrew the threaded endcap. Take that, you little rascals!!!

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Animal proof food container.

Geared up and got biking by 8 am. Biking weather was cool (overcast and 55 degrees F with no sun to warm me up). High temperature for the day was 61 degrees F. Started off biking without a jacket, thinking I might warm up once I got cranking. It was cool enough that I put on a jacket after 30 minutes in the saddle.

Skyliner trailhead sign.

I biked from Tumalo State Park into the town of Bend, then upward in elevation to Skyliner Road, heading up to the massive number of mountain biking trails west of Bend. Biked Skyliner trail (3.2 miles) from the trailhead to Lower Whoops trail (1.8 miles), to Phil’s trail (6.1 miles), to Kent’s trail (4.2 miles). Then back to Bend and to camp. Rode 40 miles, beginning at 3,500 feet elevation, up to 4,900 feet, and back down again.

Lower Whoops trail – earth berms create banked turns for maximum traction and speed.

Riding a challenging trail like Lower Whoops trail is a work of art for me – similar to a musician playing a composition. Each rider rides the trail differently, with his own style. Riding Lower Whoops trail is a rush for all senses. My eyes constantly scanning for obstacles, my brain determining the best line to ride, wind whistling in my ears with the sound of sand, rocks, and earth crunching under the knobby tires, the smell of fresh pine in the air, the feel of the shake, rattle, and roll in my feet and hands as they respond rapidly to changes in pressure.

My body leans from side to side as I lean into the banked turns that provide maximum traction. I take the high line on the left-banked earth berm, swoop down into the trough of the trail, shift your weight and lean right hitting the right-banked earth berm on the high line, scream down the earth berm to the next obstacle. My body feels the shake and rattle as I feel the knobby tires seeking purchase on the hard packed trail turns.

Skyliner trail – typical rock obstacles.

I look ahead and see a earth mound. My being prepares for the jump as the mound launches me into the air. Move the body weight towards the rear tire, positioning for the launch. Hit the mound and explode into the air, balancing as I fly. Prepare for impact, and take the shock as I land, rolling on to the next obstacle. This is one part of the art of mountain biking.

Skyliner trail – bike parked for lunch break.

Sunset on the Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon.

There is definitely an art to getting into a hammock and situating your bed for a cold night. The low for tonight is 39 degrees F. So I got in the hammock, leaving my shoes on the ground directly below me so I can get out in the morning without getting my feet dirty. I am dressed for warmth with wool socks, tights, shirt, fleece jacket, gloves, hat, sleeping bag liner, sleeping bag, Thermarest insulating pad, and an extra blanket. Getting all that gear situated in a normal bed is not hard, but takes some effort in a hammock. Lots of wriggling and turning side-to-side to manipulate all the insulating items.

Here is a summary of my week of mountain biking in Bend, Oregon…

Day 4 – Moving Day