A hometown favorite was the one thing that kept Ellen Matheny, of Columbia, going on her 68-mile trek from Sedalia to Columbia in her first year doing the Katy Trail Bike Ride.
“I’ve been salivating over getting Shakespeare’s Pizza,” Matheny said.
More than 300 cyclists from 23 states descended on Reactor Field on Tuesday, completing the longest day of the five-day, 243-mile bike ride along the Katy Trail from Clinton to St. Charles. Toyota is the first corporate sponsor for the annual bike tour, now in its seventh year. The car company is providing vehicles for the event and holding giveaways.
Riders staying the night in Columbia had the opportunity to climb the Alpine Tower, enjoy a hot shower in a 48-foot portable trailer and grab a shuttle downtown for a meal. The Columbia Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau provided $10 gift certificates valid at almost all restaurants in downtown Columbia. Riders also had a meeting to go over today’s route to Mokane, and staff handed out prizes donated by the bureau. The night concluded with an interpretive program by Raptor Rehab.
“Columbia is always a popular stop,”said Andrea Putnam, Missouri State Parks special events coordinator. “We usually stop in different cities along the trail every year and try to go into different cities (we) never visited before.”
The theme for this year’s tour is “Wild On The Katy,” focusing on the plants and animals along the trail. However, four-tour veteran Bill Forbis, of Tawakoni, Texas, said this year he’s “noticed a lack of critters” while riding on the trail.
There are many different reasons why people participate in the Katy Trail Bike Ride. Third-time rider Caroline Oates, of Columbia, relishes the feeling and experience she gets from riding on the trail with Forbis, whom she met on the ride in 2004.
“There’s a physical challenge to it, not like Lance Armstrong, but there’s something uniquely freeing about being on a bike,” Oates said. “You get time to think and reflect.”
“There’s independence alone on a bike in addition to meditation time,” Forbis said.
While other riders rested up for tomorrow’s 44.5-mile ride to Mokane, Oates had little time to recover.
“They told me that the grass needed mowing at home, so I’m going to do that tonight,” she said. “No one said anything about cross-training during the week of a ride.”