Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bike camping

The past few weeks the weather has been scorching. This week was so nice that I decided to take a bike trip along the Katy Trail. It wasn't a long trip. About 40 miles each direction. And rather than backcountry camping I ended up in a city park in the cute little town of Marthasville.

View Katy trail to Marthasville in a larger map

The Katy trail is a real gem. I've used it for long runs when I was training for a marathon. It used to be a railroad line and I believe it is part of the Rails-to-Trails project. The trail is flat and for many miles it runs next to the Missouri river. Often there are limestone bluffs on one side, the river or wetlands on the other, and trees overhanging the trail itself. Nothing short of gorgeous.

Biking the Katy trail is popular enough that there are trail towns that cater to the biking community. I stopped in one of them, Defiance, and had pizza at a little tavern before continuing on. (That's one benefit of bike camping: no need to bring food since you are never far from civilization.) Some town allow camping in the city parks and Marthasville is one of these. It's one of the cutest towns you will ever see. Really tiny. There are like 4 streets in town and the trail cuts right through it. When I showed up at the park there was a little league game and a men's softball game going on. I swear the whole town turned out to watch the games. It's so quaint it's like the town that time forgot.

The city park also has showers for bikers and they ask for a $5 donation to help fund the facilities. It was nice to be able to shower before bedtime and then to sleep under a park shelter so there was no need for a tarp or anything.

I ran into 5 other bikers and we all camped together. They are college students who are part of a cross-country trip called Trek to Re-Energize America. Several teams are biking to Washington D.C. to advocate for action on climate change. In particular they seem to focus on biking as a viable alternative for commuting. The particular group I ran into blogs about their ride here (although when I last checked the site was down). They stared in Peublo, Colorado. Great kids. We had a nice time together. They wanted to hear me lecture about economics and the environment. And of course professors love to talk so we got along great.

I wish I had more pictures of the trip. I tried using my cell phone as a camera but I can't get the pictures off. But if you go to the Katy Trail website there are maps and lots of info and pictures from better photographers than I.

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