Day 44, to Kearney: Car-free stone trail vs. smooth pavement? Appreciating the Katy Trail — and also the return to the roads. - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

June 5, 2022

Day 44, to Kearney: Car-free stone trail vs. smooth pavement? Appreciating the Katy Trail — and also the return to the roads.

Sunday stats

Start: The Classic Motel in Higginsville, Mo.

End: Sure Stay Hotel in Kearney, Mo.

The Daily Progress: 58.9 miles

The Ascension: 2,421 feet

Ice cream flavors: Chocolate Oreo shake at Sonic

Lodging expenses: $57, plus 10 in tips

Food expenses: $47? 

Other expenses: $27 sunscreen, etc.

Sunday ramblings

I left the Katy Trail yesterday in Boonville to continue following the TransAm's Eastern Express. The Katy is truly a treasure and welcoming to cyclists: car-free, essentially flat, a good portion of it in the shade. Many towns along the way have a welcome stand with information and a bathroom and they kinda looks like little train stations. Very inviting! 

Here's a view of the trailhead and the train-station-like welcome booth with trail information in Trealor, Mo. The trail continues on the left. In the background on the right is an old red brick building with a BANK sign above it.
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The Katy Trail also followed the Missouri River pretty closely, making for a calm natural environment and, in at least one case, a fantastic camping opportunity.

This was my campsite just off the trail in Portland. As the photo shows, I hung my hammock right on the river's edge. Blue leans against one of the trees. And I make my usual goony smile at the camera.
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There were also some amazing birds. I saw bluebirds, indigo buntings, blue jays and red-tailed hawks. And one bald eagle.

This is my last selfie on the Katy Trail. Behind me is the crushed limestone trail and an old reddish block structure that I think might've been some kind of silo, judging from the cylindrical shapes on the side.
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I didn't know how I'd feel about returning to the roads. I mean, I knew I'd appreciate the pavement, but when compared with the Katy, roads meant more exposure to wind, sun, car traffic and hills. With almost two days back on roads, it seems pretty clear that the firmer road surface makes such a big difference that — at least so far, with mild crosswinds — it has translated into faster speeds despite lacking the other benefits of the unpaved rail trail. 

This is not to say that either is definitively "better" than the other, just that pavement is much faster than gravel, especially when riding on tires better suited for the road (I know, what a surprise!). So, although the scenery is nowhere near as nice, it did feel good to be able to move more quickly and smoothly this weekend.

If all goes as planned, I should reach Kansas by the end of Monday!

Today's ride: 59 miles (95 km)
Total: 1,617 miles (2,602 km)

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