COLUMBIA — Experienced and novice cyclists gathered at Flat Branch Park on Saturday morning to kick off the Pedaler’s Jamboree, a two-day bike ride along the Katy Trail with multiple live music events along the way.
Participants began their journey in Columbia and biked along the trail to Boonville. On Sunday, they could head home at their leisure. The route was an estimated 60 miles there and back, with an optional bonus loop of 15 miles to Cooper’s Landing on the Missouri River.
Mike Denehy, the series director for Off Track Events, established the Jamboree after having spent years biking the scenic Katy Trail.
“I’ve had great experiences on the trail, so I thought it would be a good idea to incorporate the live music element,” Denehy said. “I initially worked with the different venues and then we brought in the live acts."
Most of the venues were popular pit stops along the Katy Trail, including Katfish Katy’s, Les Bourgeois Winery, Rocheport General Store, The Katy Roundhouse and Lucy’s Bar & Grill. At each venue, participants enjoyed live music by Boone County favorites such as the Honky Tonk Blues Band, the 3rd Street String Band and Counterfeit Heroz.
The Jamboree was designed to accommodate both serious and casual cyclists; participants made up a mixed group that ranged from toddlers to senior citizens. Young parents, some with attached baby bicycle strollers, mingled with groups of friends and older couples.
Missy Brooks came with her friend Sara Harbour from Fulton to join in the festivities.
“We read about it in a pamphlet we picked up and thought it would be a good way to get into biking. It’s a great event for people just starting out,” Brooks said.
Other cyclists, such as Bryan Richardson, saw the event as a good way to get back into cycling.
"I came up from Iowa for this," Richardson said. "My buddy lives in Columbia so I just thought it would be fun to do this with him and his family.”
More than 400 participants preregistered for the event, which cost $30, but Denehy said he was confident they would have a few hundred more walk-ons.
The final destination was Boonville’s Kemper Park and a concert that was open to the public that featured the East Ash Street Band and the Wild Cat Daddies as well as the lively acoustic sounds of the headlining act, Big Smith. Other highlights included a bike show and entry to the Boonville Beer Garden.
Participants were given the option of camping out or spending the night at a nearby hotel before returning Sunday.