Trick or Treat

Saturday’s weather was immaculate.  It was way too nice for Saint Louis and especially for the last weekend in October, sunny and with a high of 75 °F.  So to take advantage of this weather I went biking.  Anne on the other hand elected to sit inside all day and participate in a long range planning meeting for our local school district.  More is the pity for her.  😥

So without any adult supervision for the day, I drove out to Saint Chuck to ride the Katy Trail.  I put in at the Weldon Springs trailhead, where I normally start.  It is the closest trailhead from the house.  It has been a while since I last rode the Katy.  Last time there were flood waters on the Missouri River.  This time everything was as dry as a bone.  I heard later that a red flag fire warning had been called, because of the high winds and the dry conditions.  This being Halloween weekend there was a bicycling costume party going on the Katy, called the Monster Bike Bash.  I photographed some of the costumed participants and a few of those photos appear with this post.

What with the holiday revelers and the crush of fair weather cyclists, the Katy Trail was pretty crowded.  On the way back to the car, I elected to take the Hamburg spur to get some extra miles, but to also get away from the maddening crowd.  The Hamburg Trail runs uphill from the Katy Trail to the Weldon Springs Site as in Superfund Site.  According to the informational sign at the Hamburg trailhead, during World War II Weldon Springs was an Army ordnance works.  An important adjective is omitted from this sign, that word is nuclear.  During and after the war uranium tailings were dumped at this site.  Why the so-called experts of that day did not expect radiation to leech into the groundwater is a mystery to me.  Missouri’s subsoil is as porous as a sponge.

Checking the amount of water still in my water bottle, I decided that I had enough for both the outbound and return legs of this side excursion.  I wasn’t planning on refilling at the Corps of Engineer’s visitors center, no matter what assurances were given.  The outbound leg was all uphill, some times reaching a 6% grade.  It is a pretty trail.  On the return leg I just coasted back to the river.  I got 30 miles for the day.

Dave went down to the National Mall (it is only a couple of miles from his apartment) for the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.”  He had a good time.  When asked, Dave said that he was rallying to restore sanity and not fear.  He also said that it was very crowded.  The news reported nice weather for this event too.

Crossing Muddy Waters

The river was wide and deep and up when I took the Daniel Boone Bridge across the Missouri River and then 94 to the Weldon [radioactive hot] Springs Katy trailhead.  I was on my bike and riding by seven.  It was almost too cool.  It was certainly too humid.  Anytime I stopped to take a picture my glasses would fog up.  The saying goes, “If the creeks don’t rise and the good Lord is willing I will make it.”  Well the creeks were already up.  There is a certain spookiness riding through flooded woods, with only a narrow strip of trail, both fore and aft to roll on.

I rode to Marthasville and back, for 45 miles.  Marthasville has a gas station right next to the trailhead and this gas station has the cheapest soda on the Katy.  I eschewed the sports drinks in machine #1 for a dollar.  I also passed on machine #2 with its $1.25 16 ounce bottles of soda.  I elected to buy the 50¢ 12 ounce can of Orange Crush from machine #3.

So some of you are probably wondering, who are the four shirtless guys?  These four guys left San Francisco five weeks ago and plan on returning home to Baltimore in two more weeks.  It took them three days to cross Missouri.  They are planning on spending the weekend in Saint Louis.  They asked about breakfast and I told them about the deli in Dutzow and the micro-brewery in Augusta.  At this point another gentleman piped up with, “Beer for breakfast?”  To which I responded, “Beer is not just for breakfast anymore.”  I gave them suggestions on how to cross the two major river obstacles that lay before them asked them for their photo and bade them good luck.  On my return I passed their bikes parked in Dutzow, they evidently chose the deli.

So these guys were on their great adventure, just like Anne and I some 28 years ago, but they have something that we never even thought to have, sponsors.  I never got the complete rundown, but they were all well outfitted.  They did mention one sponsor though, Brooks Saddles.  These are high-end, handmade bike saddles that are made the way they use to be made.  They come with a leather seat and copper rivet fasteners.  They explained with some sanguine that it took them 1000 miles to break them in for their butts.

I saw many little birds, cardinals, goldfinches and indigo buntings; red, yellow and blue colored birds.  I saw one great white egret who was fishing in a partially flooded cornfield and I saw a great blue heron that over flew me, but I didn’t get a single picture of any of them.  The little birds are always tough to photograph, but I’ve had plenty of success photographing larger birds, but missing my ace spotter and then stopper, I just kept riding along. 

So I stopped at the Augusta Brewery on the way back, which is not open for breakfast.  I had a beer and posted this on Facebook.  This post created a bit of a Facebook sensation with Kayak Women.  Drink responsibly folks.

Compton Heights

Saint Louis has many beautiful neighborhoods.  One of the most lovely is Compton Heights.  Last Sunday, Anne and I bicycled through the Compton Heights neighborhood.  While cycling through this neighborhood we took pictures of some of the homes that caught our fancies.  According to the Compton Heights Historic Neighborhood Association’s website:

Laid out in 1889 in accordance with a plan that viewed nature as neighbor and not as an enemy to be subjugated by some rectilinear grid, its wide setbacks and curving streets create remarkable vistas, which are punctuated by more than 200 homes of extraordinary and varied interest. The entire neighborhood is a national historic district.

Most of the homes in Compton Heights are made of brick.  In fact most homes in and around the City of Saint Louis are brick homes.  Our home is a brick home too.  It is decorated with architectural details, some might dismiss as brick-a-brack.  In some ways it is reminiscent of the mansions of Compton Heights.  In no way do I hold up our house to be their equal, but we love our little gingerbread house anyway. 

The Katy Trail turns twenty years old this year.  Happy Birthday, Katy!  When I rode the Katy, end-to-end, over ten years ago, it only ran from Sedalia to Saint Charles.  Still at 190 miles, that was a fair piece to go in just a weekend.  The daytime high temperatures that weekend, both of them, was over a hundred degrees.  That pretty much left the trail that weekend to myself.  There were more than a few encounters, but I think that this subject in another post.

The Katy is a rails-to-trails bike path that now nearly spans the State of Missouri.  It currently runs 225 miles in length and with an average forty-foot width it is our state’s narrowest state park.  Numerous bed & breakfasts and wineries have established themselves along its way.  

Most times when either I ride alone or with Anne, my starting point is at Weldon Springs.  It is the closest trailhead to us.  From there we always head west, usually to Augusta, but sometimes we ride onto Marthasville.  Augusta offers refreshment at the Augusta Brewery, which is conveniently located just a short walk up from the trail.  Augusta also boasts a winery, but it is at the top of a very long steep hill.

Mountain bikers complain that the Katy isn’t a real mountain biking trail, but just a dirt road.  I can’t argue with them on that point.  Road bikers don’t like the Katy because its limestone slurry is rough on their tires and it slows them down.  To them I say, get cyclecross tires.  Some complain that because the Katy is so flat and straight, it is too boring to ride.  I ask these people, have you ever ridden it end-to-end?

Today, Saturday, Anne and I will be going to the Muny.  “The Muny, what?”, you say, “We haven’t even had the Shakespeare Festival yet.”  I don’t care, in fact I am even going to bring my camera, the big one, I don’t care about Actor’s Equity.  Here is the scoop, Webster University has rented the Muny for this year’s graduation.  Annie, Dan’s friend, is going to walk in it.  Afterwards we’ll adjourn to her folk’s house for a reception.

The Katy Trail in Indian Summer

Saturday we drove across the wide Missouri.  Really, it is still in flood.  Anne and I bicycled on the Katy Trail.  The weather was gorgeous.  With a high of seventy-eight degrees and cloudless skies, you could not ask for a better Indian summer afternoon.  We started at Weldon Spring and biked to Augusta.  There we lunched at the Augusta Brewery.  We like it because it is at the bottom of the hill that Augusta is built on.  It was crowded, with about half cyclists and half drivers.  We got twenty-one miles.

At Matson I saw a flyer for a mystery novel called, Peril on the Katy Trail by Robert Shoop.  The teaser line goes like this:  A woman who can’t remember a man who can’t forget and a person who desperately needs to kill them both!  The rest of the novel’s description sounds somewhat cheesy, but I must admit, I still find interesting:

The Katy Trail is a 225-mile long biking trail from Clinton to St. Charles, Missouri.  It’s one of the most beautiful bike trails in the world.  Samuel an ex-Navy SEAL is just trying to get away from it all.  Into his life drops Misty, a mysterious woman with amnesia.  She just happens to have a shotgun-toting man chasing her.  Samuel has no choice.  His sense of honor forces him to protect her. Thus begins one of the wildest bicycle rides in history.

Last month the League of American Bicyclists named Saint Louis a Bicycle Friendly Community (bronze level).  Saint Louis was one of fifteen cities so named.  The seventy miles of on street bike paths in Bike Saint Louis program were instrumental in garnering this recognition.