As I mentioned a few weeks back, I wanted to ride the Katy Trail in Missouri, from Jefferson City to St. Charles in a day. At the time, it was supposed to be my second century ride, but ended up being my third, after a 60mi training ride got out of hand and turned into 100. Anyway, I’m happy to say everything worked out, and on the 25th of September, I did the ride.
In planning for my Katy Trail century across Missouri, I thought it’d be a good idea to do a 60-mile ride on Sunday. I left for my ride equipped how I plan to be for my Jefferson City-to-St. Charles ride, just to get an idea of how my stuff would feel/perform.
My original plan was to start at the smoke stacks on MU campus in Columbia, MO, and do exactly 30 miles, then return. Somewhere along the way, though, I decided to go ahead and ride all the way to Jefferson City. My thinking was, it’d only be a few miles more, and as long as I’m going in that direction on a beautiful day, I might as well take it the whole way.
As far as I’m concerned, my Katy Tail Century is a go. But, being a bike weight-obsessed dipshit, my first thought was, how do I get my bike to its lightest before the ride? Fortunately, I have years worth of experience in this sort of dipshittery, so I’m hard at work
making my wife question marrying me eliminating weight from my Fisher Wahoo before the big day.
Getting my bike under 18.5lbs is actually easier than it sounds, since many of the parts currently on it were initially bought with light weight in mind. Still I had to swap a few things…
My SR Suntour Epicon RLD fork weighs just shy of 4lbs, so I replaced it with the Carbon Cycles eXotic rigid fork I took off last fall. That’s a savings of roughly 1.9lbs, and I don’t really need suspension for a flat trail anyway.
Next up, and even more importantly, was to get rid of rolling weight. I swapped to a set of Kenda Klimax Lite tires which, together, weigh about the same as just one of my more aggressive tires alone (649g/pr). I put in some Forte LunarLite tubes, as well.
Since I already run 1×9 gears, I decided to swap the Shimano XT 11-32 cassette for a Sram PG-970 11-23 9-speed road cassette, shaving off close to another quarter-pound. The close gear ratios will also help keep my cadence steady as I spin my cranks for 7-8 hours.
Finally, I pulled an old Easton CT2 carbon handlebar out of my parts bin. It’s been chopped down to 20.5" and weighs 119g with end plugs, 28g less than my Titec Ti 118 bar (I told you I was being ridiculous). I actually prefer the narrower width of the Easton bar on the long flats I’ll be riding, so it wasn’t all about taking off weight with this piece. I normally don’t trust carbon bars for XC riding, but on the Katy, you could just about ride a bar made out of straw and not worry about overloading it.
I didn’t have any foam grips laying around (I swapped back to rubber grips after having the foamies come loose a couple times), so I used some Easton road bar tape instead. I’ve been wanting to try this out to see how it feels on a trail bike, so I figured this was a good excuse.
All told, the bike is now at 18.33lbs. I have a Selle Italia Signo T1 triathlon saddle on the way ($26 on eBay–woot!), so that’ll add 30g back on, but it’ll be worth it to have the additional padding since I never have reason to stand up while pedaling on the Katy.
I’m also re-thinking my food and water situation for the trip. I had planned on 100oz of water in my CamelBak, plus two 33oz bottles on the bike with Gatorade in them. Since I’m passing through 22 towns along the way, I may take a 70oz bladder of water, and stick to just one bottle, refilling them along the way when needed.
Less weight means an easier bike to push for all those miles, and I see no sense in making it anymore difficult than it needs to be. Colin Chapman would be so proud.
I started biking in ’98, then waited some 12 years to ride my first century. This time, though, I think I’m going to keep it to around 4 months.
Last time, I kept to the road, mashing my pedals all around my hilly city on a singlespeed. My legs hurt, but all the time out of the saddle, standing during climbs, kept my butt from feeling too much pain. This time, though, I’m swapping my SS road bike for a geared MTB, the roads for a rail-trail, and the hills for the flattest trail around.
Sometime before the end of September (I hope, but it’s dependent upon the weather), I’m going to ride the Eastern section of Missouri’s Katy Trail, from Jefferson City in the middle of the state, to St. Charles in the East (map). Total distance is about 104mi, according to this chart, so it’ll be my longest ride to date. I’m figuring on about 8 hours, if I average 13mph, but that’s if my legs die on me. If I can keep around 15mph, then that should drop to 7 hours. It’s sort of a toss-up between more time seated–thus an unhappy ass, but less tired legs–or a faster, more tiring ride.
I have a few parts to swap on my bike first, namely lighter tires & tubes, my rigid carbon fork, and a smaller cassette (I don’t need 32T gearing), just so I have less weight to propel all that way. Other than that, I think I’m in shape for it, so I won’t do any training ahead of time (what sort of pansy prepares for epic rides, anyway?). I’ll be sure to take my camera along so I can return with plenty of boring photos of flat, straight trail, as well as the 22 small towns that I pass through on the way.
Tentative date: September 25.
I’ll keep you posted.
I realized there are no good Rock Bridge Memorial State Park trail maps online (this one on the official MO State Parks website is not only small, but horribly inaccurate), so I emailed DNR and asked if they had a better one.
Since we’re talking about state government here, they obviously didn’t have one, and mostly likely won’t anytime soon. So, I took it upon myself to make one…
I scanned one of the trail map brochures that you can find at any parking lot, screwed around in Photoshop with it for a while, and ended up with a very large, accurate map (save for the exclusion of the new Springbrook — Sinkhole Trail connector) for anyone who may be looking for one. Why the parks department couldn’t provide it, I have no idea, but I guess that doesn’t really matter now.
Click the photo below for a 2500 x 2050px version (also on my Flickr Photostream):
Hopefully this will be of help to others. Enjoy.
EDIT: Here’s an additional map, showing the course used for the Show-Me State Games Mountain Bike race (click for larger view):
My wife and I headed out to the Show-Me State Games at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park today to cheer on our friends, Josh and Val. Although Josh has raced many times before, it was Val’s first, and she finished mid-pack in the Beginner Women division, despite having an incident at the creek crossing, and stopping to help a fellow rider who ran into problems.
Lots of people were on hand, including riders, and the staff from Walt’s Bike and Fitness, who were helping organize the event. I stood around and took photos while Val ran her race, but left before some of the longer running races were over. Something about being surrounded by bikes made me want to get home and go for a ride of my own.
I’m also somewhat inspired to race in 2010, but that’s still up in the air.
Photos and results below:
My wife and I went for an early morning walk down the new Sinkhole-Springbrook connector trail to take some pictures. The local Boy Scout troops did an excellent job on the trail, even if it is a little too easy to ride. A couple logs or roots along the trail would have added a little extra fun, but I’m not going to complain. Hopefully, it won’t take nearly a decade for the next trail to be put in!
I found this article from a local paper discussing how many people and families are turning to bikes for fitness and to save money on gas. It’s definitely worth a read, but I wonder if it will still hold true in a few months. It’s easy to have great intentions when the weather is nice and the sun is up during the morning commute, but once fall and winter arrive, will most people just go back to driving? My guess is, yes.
Another issue with bicycle commuting in my community (and many others) is the vast distance from home to work. I live exactly 3 miles from my work, with very little hills in between. However, that’d involve riding along a busy State highway for about a mile. The alternative route would increase the distance to about 5 miles and be much safer, but mid-West weather is totally unpredictable, and we don’t have many dry mornings that also lead into dry afternoons. Oh, and the distance between work and home for me is quite small; most people in this town live much further from work, and most aren’t dedicated bike riders.
Will is work? Maybe, at least for a while. But I think weather, congested primary and secondary roads, and large distances to ride each morning will keep the trend from growing much.