This afternoon, our group of 13 men from our church rolled into a parking lot in St. Charles, Missouri, completing a bicycling adventure that began Friday in the same parking lot. The adventure lasted two days and 159.2 miles, most of that on a gravel trail, an old railroad line called the Katy Trail that stretches across most of Missouri. In fact, the Katy Trail has the distinction of being the longest, narrowest state park in the United States -- 225 miles long and eight feet wide.
On Friday, we drove to Rocheport, Missouri, with a little timeout along the way to fix a blown tire on the RV, and had dinner at Les Bourgeois Vineyards. The view was spectacular from atop the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. If anything, the food was better than the view. I had trout with spoonbread, with a glass of Vidal Blanc.
If this is how they do bike retreats, I thought, I could do one every weekend.
We continued on to New Franklin, Missouri, or actually about two miles past New Franklin, to stay at the Katy Road Roundhouse Park. As in camping. And tents. My wife snickered when I said camping and tents. My wife knows me.
I got to sleep in the RV, through the kindness of Todd, the retreat leader and RV owner. When we registered for the trip, he asked me if I had a tent. Nope. A sleeping bag? Absolutely -- an old one belonging to my oldest son, who's now 29. The sleeping bag has Superman on it. Todd took pity, and said, "Well, you can sleep in the RV -- there's an extra bed." Sold, I said.
Cyclists who do these kinds of trips are used to camping. They have great camping equipment and know how to use it. Then there's me, whose idea of roughing it is staying at a Ramada.
The campground had full bathroom facilities. Two working sinks, two showers and three toilets. Except two of the three toilets were broken. And, as I discovered at 5:30 in the morning, the showers only had cold water. So me, a host of daddy longlegs and one small spider danced around the cold stream of water. It's an adventure, right?
I survived the shower and the spider, and then sat outside the RV in the growing light. The quiet was incredible, the silence broken only by an occasional bird singing. It's amazing what you can hear in the quiet, when you slow down to listen.
My normal everyday breakfast is a bowl of Cheerios and a cup of coffee. To start our trip right, we had hot oatmeal, coffee, orange juice, grapes, and granola bars. Not only does Todd fix blown out RV tires like an Indy 500 pit crew, he also cooks. And cooks well. And then we're all going to find out how well he plans and orchestrates the itinerary. It looks simple, but it's not.
NEXT: 93 miles from New Franklin to Hermann.