UPDATE: Cyclists celebrate anniversary of Missouri Katy Trail

Saturday, June 26, 2010 | 3:17 p.m. CDT

SEDALIA — Several hundred cyclists traveled across Missouri on the Katy Trail to celebrate the path's 20th anniversary.

The Sedalia Democrat reported that more than 300 riders from 30 states traveled the 225-mile hiking, biking and equestrian path in five days. They slept outside and stopped in cities along the way. Their ages ranged from 6 to 81 years old.

The Katy Trail runs from Machens near St. Louis west to Clinton, which is 77 miles southeast of Kansas City.

The ride across the Katy Trail was sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and ended Friday in Clinton.

Ed Bielik, 81, of Webster Groves, has traveled the entire trail nearly two dozen times on foot and by bike. The former physical education teacher said he knows nearly every turn but still comes back. He called the Katy Trail a "gem" for the state.

"The faster you go, the less you see. When you walk, you see so much more of the little stuff," Bielik said.

But the experienced riders could be in for some new twists.

Missouri plans a Rock Island Trail-Katy Connector to extend the trail northwest from Windsor, 15 miles north of Clinton, to Pleasant Hill, 35 miles southeast of Kansas City.

The current trail was built on top of former rail tracks, but the new western section will be built next to the rail bed. A Department of Natural Resources summary says that will give hikers and bikers "a different experience by following the contour of the land at a lower elevation."

The extension will be paid for with $18 million from a 2008 settlement between the state and St. Louis-based utility AmerenUE over the December 2005 collapse of the Taum Sauk reservoir in southeast Missouri. Ameren also agreed to let the state use its easement along the old Rock Island rail line.

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