It is Sunday and we are resting in a hotel in Clinton, Missouri. Yesterday started with Pete going early morning water skiing with Zack, Mary, and Eliza. They live on a lake and ski many days a week during the warmer seasons. Both Zack and Eliza skied while Mary was the designated driver. They pulled me too. Like riding a bike, I could still manage to ski, but also like riding a bike after not riding for a long time, it wore me out fast. It seems that many of the muscles used for water skiing are different than the ones I regularly use. 

Thank you so much Mary, Zack, and girls for your hospitality and letting us stay with you.

We started our ride from their house around 10 AM. Because of some last minute changes our ride was beginning on Saturday instead of Monday and our planned first day ride was adding an extra 20 miles to get us to a better place to hunker down for Sunday.

We rode on rural surface streets from Mary and Zack’s house to the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail. It was beautiful and peaceful and a good reminder of why we loved living in this area 20 years ago. It was also immediately apparent that our packing was a bit heavier than any other ride we’ve been on. We may have overpacked quite a bit, as the miles were extra slow and extra hard. I found myself worrying early on: “at this rate we will not make it to Clinton until 7 or 8 pm.” Spoiler: we rolled in around 11… 

The Rock Island Spur is a beautiful section of the Katy Trail going from Lee’s Summit to Windsdor, where it intersects the Katy Trail proper. The inclines and declines are gentle, which is normal for a rail trail. However, we found the inclines more difficult as the day wore on. This was partly due to our load, the heat, and this being our first ride with this heavy configuration. 

The trail here is so peaceful, and it was surrounded by beautiful green trees and fields. Much of it is shaded, which is great in the heat of the day. Occasionally it passed near small towns. It is so great to ride with zero cars. A couple of hours into our ride another tandem recumbent bike rode up next to us! This type is bike is very unusual, and only a few other times have we encountered another. So we stopped and visited and exchanged stories with the riders. We also took photos.

Around 4 PM I started to feel the effects of the heat and our exertion and needed an extended rest under the bike (by extended rest I mean like an hour). Had we known the trail better we would have realized there was a good rest stop only another mile or so beyond where we stopped. We considered riding on the highway directly to Clinton at this point, but the shoulder was narrow and the traffic was such that we felt our safest option was the much longer route on the trail.

At this point progress was slow – about half of our normal pace. Eventually we made it to Windsdor where we bought some simple snacks at a gas station and then headed out on our final leg to Clinton. The sun went down and our riding conditions improved as far as temperature goes, but we were tired. We do have an excellent headlight, powered by our bike, so we could navigate the trail just fine. The comet temperature was very helpful. Another plus of riding in the dark, especially for Natalie, was that we got to see myriad dancing fireflies all along the trail. This is magical and reminds Natalie of her childhood in Massachusetts as well as of our years together in Virginia and Kansas. However, at this point we struggled to keep up much of a pace and arrived in Clinton quite late. Our last couple of miles were on small-town rural roads in Clinton, but we have a very bright red rear flashing light as well, and the few cars that were out thankfully gave us plenty of space.

We are safe but exhausted.

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