The 230-mile Missouri Katy Trail is constructed with recreation and safety in mind for all of its users. Still, some of these users, particularly the hearty end-to-end bicyclists, might want to study the public information about this trail first, and prepare themselves before doing it. For example, certain distance riders might want to condition themselves before trying long rides on this trail.
1. Getting information. For riders doing the lengthy parts of the Katy trail, it helps to gather information about the trail beforehand via its Internet website (below) or a printed guidebook. One example of this kind of information is that 26 trailheads with restrooms are built on the trail; many of them have running water. A website map shows where they are located. Also, the trail's current endpoints are the towns of Clinton and St Charles. Some of the larger towns in-between them are Sedalia, Boonville, Columbia, Jefferson City, Hermann, and Washington.
The KT guidebook tells quite a bit about the towns near the trail, big or small, as well as the sites on or near it. It also points out certain attractions and places of historical significance, like, the Daniel Boone home place and the Lewis-and-Clark camp sites along the Missouri River. The guidebook by Brett Dufur, new or used, is available through the trail's website or general book outlets.
2. Which bicycle? Just about any dependable bike works well on this trail. Hybrids and comfort bikes are popular on the Katy. Yet, because this trail surface is hard most of the time, other bikes with tires smaller than 28-mm work okay. The trail surface is "pug," a mixture of crushed limestone and small gravel. As the summer traffic increases, the trail's two bidirectional tracks, which look like embedded automobile tire tracks, are smooth, and easy to ride on. Bikes having fenders with dust/mud flaps can be useful during the dry and wet weather, but are not necessary to ride it successfully.
3. When to ride it? The Katy trail is busiest on weekends. Most of its adjoining businesses and shops open fairly early then, but not real early. Several of them will close on Monday. Many users like the springtime, when the tree blossoms (flowering dogwoods and redbuds) and the multitudinous wildflowers are popular sights. Their aromas are distinct as well. In the autumn, the multiple-colored hillsides and busy harvest scenes are spectacular. Otherwise, the main lush scenery and wildlife (e.g., plants, trees, deer, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, woodchucks, ducks, geese, hawks, turkeys, skinks, little green snakes, blue buntings, cardinals, flowers, and more) are present all summer long.
4. Things to carry along. Common items to take on this ride include lots of water, helmet, cell phone, list of emergency contacts, cash, credit card, repellent, eye/sun protections, jacket/rain gear, clothing, nourishment (e.g., power bars/gels, trail-mixes, sandwiches, or fruit, especially on Monday when several trailside stores are closed), spare tire tubes, air pump, levers for changing tires/tubes, and a small flashlight. Also, the usual riding paraphernalia can include a small camera. Additionally, a saddle bag or small insulated bike trunk is handy for carrying any essentials on the trail.
5. Personal conditioning. Riders need not be in perfect condition to ride this trail because it is fairly flat. Generally, riding 30-to-50-miles in one day is fairly easy to do. However, those wanting to do the trail end-to-end in three days or so (75-to-80-miles/day) might want to condition themselves moderately by riding these same distances near their homes beforehand.
To learn more about this trail and how to ride it, see the following sites.
1. Katy Trail Missouri http://www.bikekatytrail.com