Monday, July 1, 2013

Katy Trail One Day Ride

For quite some time I've been planning a one day ride of the Katy Trail from Clinton to Machens, a distance of 237.7 miles. Inspired by my experience at Bonkhard Racing's OGRE in April of this year, and the Dirty Kanza 200 in early June, I was ready to nail down some details and make it happen. While there is no "official" record time for riding the Katy Trail , my goal was to better the current one day ride elapsed time of 14hrs:00min:49sec for riding from the Clinton trail head to the St. Charles trail head.

I would travel West to East for this ride, planning to take advantage of the net downhill elevation profile and more importantly, the typical SW to WSW wind that frequents the area. I planned to make 5 stops during the ride: 

I requested SAG (Support & Gear) from my friends Alistair Trumbo and John Long and they agreed to help me out! No easy feat considering my ride was planned for a Wednesday and would require a 3:00AM Lebanon departure, a +18HR day of driving a waiting for some idiot on a bicycle.

I wanted substantial and credible documentation of this ride, so I used my Garmin Forerunner 305 backed up by John Long's Garmin 910XT. In addition to redundant Garmin data, I had a friend capturing screen shots with time stamps on an hourly basis using the Apple iCloud "Find My iPhone" application and a world clock.

Al and John met me at my house in Lebanon on Wednesday morning, June 26th, at 2:50AM and by 3:00AM we are on our way to Clinton. After an easy 1hr:50min drive, we arrive at the Clinton trail head and I start my gear preparation. I decided to use (3) bottles on the first leg, (1) bottle for nutrition and (2) bottles of water, using the Camelbak later when the temperature started to climb. With the prep work done, I rode back and forth near the trail head for few minutes checking my bike and gear then waited for 5:30AM. 

My SAG for the day, Alistair Trumbo (L) and John Long. They done a great job supporting me and the ride would have been impossible without them. 

Sorry, this is as optimistic as I get at 5:25AM. 

At 5:30am I departed the Clinton trail head en route to check point #1, (49.2) miles down the trail at Clifton City. The trail was dry and clean for the most part, and as seen below, 1 hr. of ride time put me just East of  Windsor, MO. My pace was good at +18 mph assisted by cooler temps and a SW breeze. 

By hour (2) I was mid-town Sedalia, making my way through multiple intersections. I was cautious and focused as there are plenty of interaction with street traffic on this section of the trail. I quickly navigated through the side streets and got back on the trail in good time.

With 2hr:40min on the clock, and 49.2 miles behind me, I rolled into check point #1 at Clifton City 12 minutes ahead of schedule with an average mph of (18.4).

John and Al turned me around quickly at checkpoint #1, and I was back on the trail in < 3 minutes.

Out of check point (#1) I immediately faced the longest sustained climb on the Katy Trail. While the elevation gain is only 250 ft., it's hard work to climb on chat and maintain +17 mph.  

Four hours into the ride, I'm still feeling well and coming into Boonville, anxious to get on the Missouri River section of the Katy. I cruise through the Isle of Capri parking lot and cross the river on the Hwy 40 bridge. After the turn Southeast at mile 81 I had my first taste of the side wind and I start feeling some fatigue. It was more difficult to maintain my +17 mph average.

I arrived in Rocheport (check point #2) 12 minutes ahead of schedule and still feeling okay. The temperature was climbing fast, near 90°F with serious humidity as well. In hindsight, I should have strapped on the Camelbak at check point #2, but decided I could make it to Jefferson City with out it. John and Al turned me around quickly and I was back underway in good time. 

It was somewhere in this stretch that the heat was turned full blast, and I started cycling in concrete.

A few days prior to the ride I had been struggling with a head cold and this, combined with (6) hrs. of 150 bpm heart rate, in +90°F temperatures, began to take its toll. While the wind was a minor factor, my heart rate was consistently climbing and my mph was consistently dropping (at a point on the course where it should have been easier to keep my pace). All was not well with me.  

I struggled prior to arriving at Jefferson City. I was not feeling well, and actually got cold just prior and during the checkpoint. I was still ahead of schedule and planned a change of clothes here. 

I completed the change of clothes (taking way too long), then drank and tried to eat something. At this point eating was REALLY difficult and I failed to take in much solid food. The heat was in 94°F by this time and it was beating me up badly. 

By the time I left Jefferson City I had consumed all my time margin and left on my original schedule. Approximately 2.5 miles down the trail I stopped with nausea and some disorientation. I turned around and worked my way back to a driveway that crosses the trail off of Hwy. 94.  I quickly came to the conclusion that my day was done. Even with a finish (which I doubt I could have done) it was obvious I could not maintain my goal pace. I was ready to call for SAG when I looked up and John and Al were approaching on Hwy. 94. They pulled in and hopped in the SUV to cool down for a few minutes. I decided it was time to pull the plug.

In summary I traveled 125.8 miles of the Katy Trail in 7hr:20min for an average pace of 17.2 mph (17.8 on the bike). While disappointed in not meeting my goal, I'm grateful for the opportunity and will certainly try again. 

Stay Tuned,



  1. Great effort Don! You did well for a first effort and it sounds like the heat got to you..

    1. You're welcome Don! Someday I want to try this myself.. perhaps this fall when I'm in my best shape for the season..(and my body is acclimated to the warmer weather) I enjoy riding the chat trails like the FHT and the KATY.

  2. That is an amazing achievement Don, I'm stuck for words. Congratulations on your result and such a fantastic summary of the ride. Dom

    1. Thanks Dom!

      I will try again with cooler temps and better health.

  3. Good effort Don. Good learning experience. You'll get it next time!!


    1. Hi Ferg,
      Thanks! It was a tough day.

      Be well,