Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Making Plans to Finish
While I’ve done a handful of long bike tours, one of the signature long routes, a coast-to-coast ride, was something I’d never done. Unfortunately, a teaching summer isn’t quite enough time to finish such a ride, at least not at an enjoyable pace, nor with an interesting route. If I were to do a coast-to-coast ride, it’d have to be broken into two parts.
A few summers ago, I set out on what would be the first half of such a ride. The route started in San Francisco and went to St. Louis, home of the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch, both symbolic of the halfway point across the country (in reality, the centroid of the continental US is in Kansas, not on the eastern border of Missouri). After that, the plan was to take a train home. However, I arrived in St. Louis well ahead of schedule, and since I had extra time, turned southwest and rode through the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas on my way back home to Texas.
The highlight of the ride was the Katy Trail, a former railroad bed that’s been converted into a hiking/biking path. On it, you can hike/bike nearly all the way across the state, ending up just outside of St. Louis, without seeing a single car. Since it’s a former railroad line, there are no hills, and it’s mostly in the shade and along the Missouri River. I’ve hardly ever had as much fun on a bike, and as a result, I’m going to start in Kansas City and do it again!
Even better, my dad’s joining me for the first leg on the Katy Trail, from Kansas City to St. Louis. Ten years ago, we did a tour of comparable length in Central Texas, which we dubbed “Bikes, Blues, and Barbecues”. Considering the location of this tour, Kansas City, St. Louis, and everywhere in between, barbecue will likely play an equally large role once again.
After St. Louis, I’ll continue alone through the midwest, a part of the country I’ve never seen before. As I progress eastward, the plan is to stitch together more bike paths like the Katy Trail, including the Ohio-to-Erie Trail in Ohio, the GAP and C&O Canal Towpath in Pennsylvania, and the Erie Canalway Trail in New York. The final destination is Acadia National Park, ME, very much at the geographic end of the country. A fitting terminus, after starting in Land’s End Park in California.
After running (and winning!) my first 100-mile footrace last fall, I suffered from mental burnout and didn’t train much in the winter. Training in earnest has finally begun with only eight weeks before departure. That’s enough time to get into reasonable shape, but it’d be even better if I were building from a foundation rather than building a new one.
from Eastern States