By Fred Kamp
Wow, the impact on the senses the first day! The cold, brisk air rushing over your face. The continuous crunch of the white gravel under your wheels. The intermittent crunch and flutter of fallen leaves as you plowed through the scattered piles. The rapidly changing patterns of bright light and dark shadows cast by the morning sun as you rushed along between the rows of foliage that made an aisle of the trail. The glimpses of green pastures, autumn forest, brown crops, dark plowed fields, and quaint old houses reflecting the bright sun, constantly changing as you rushed along. The bright colors of the riders’ clothes and bikes, continuously changing position in our little peleton. That’s what I remember most about the Geezers Tour IV – The Katy Trail in Missouri.
We rode this tour five days (Oct. 9-13), traveling from Sedalia to Augusta, and taking the spur trail into and out of Columbia. Around 180 miles. We stayed in a quaint hotel in Sedalia, a motel in Boonville, a not so quaint hotel in Columbia, another quaint hotel in Jefferson City, the only motel in Hermann, and a plain old hotel in St. Charles. All of these hostels were very bicyclist friendly. The DeVille in Jefferson City even provided free transportation over the Missouri River bridge. The Comfort Inn in Boonville told us of a secret trail entrance that avoided back tracking down a busy, hilly highway (although the Russels and Derral chose to ignore this entrance in order to get extra mileage and because of the sheer enjoyment of the hills and traffic). Memorable meals were enjoyed in Sedalia, Jefferson City, Hermann, and St. Charles (at the Casino). Lots of good lunches at wineries, delis, and a weird bar, where Loretta ruled with an iron hand.
They say that an elephant is a horse designed by a committee. This tour was designed by a committee. Requirements submitted by the committee included: had to be 2nd week in October, had to be only 5 days, had to go to Columbia, had to go to Hermann (Stone Hill Winery), had to ride whole trail, had to be short rides, etc. We also had input from former trail riders Jim and Laurie Allshouse and John Wente. All objectives were met except riding the whole trail. We had to leave out the new Clinton-Sedalia section. Although we had the opportunity to ride the Augusta- St. Charles section, we all sagged instead, in order to have a 36-mi. day instead of a 52-mi. day. However, we did ride the Columbia spur in both directions. We were blessed with a plethora of cars, and the committee met often to figure out how to get them down the road. We actually used the Idleman plan. The first three days we only used the three sag vehicles (for baggage, rescue, etc.). The third day we reached Jefferson City, and, viola, we were only 60 miles from Sedalia. At the end of that day we sent one of the sag vehicles back with the drivers of the cars left behind, and brought them to Jeff City. Seven people piled into the Kamp Lincoln, piloted by Penny, for the initial trip. Four new cars were added to the herd. In the subsequent two days we sent the four drivers ahead early to the next stop and they rode back to join us en route. The fact of the matter is, on the last day the sag drivers left the Lincoln in Augusta to be picked up by the riders, and all the sag folks hotfooted it to St. Charles for an orgy of shopping.
Those going on this Geezers tour were: Joe DiMonico, rider, and Margaret DiMonico, SAG driver, Fred Kamp, rider, and Bonnie Kamp, SAG driver, Tom and Karen Russell, riders, Harry Messenheimer, rider, and Jean Messenheimer, SAG driver, Ronnie and Debbie Creager, riders, Jim Nelson, Fenton Ramey, Harry McQuown, Derral Idleman, Penny Speck, Ron Hitchcock, Bob Reynolds, Gary Cannon, and Mike McKee, riders, and Marilyn Kornmaier, SAG navigator. Alas, the Geezer organizer and his wife, Jim and Freda Foreman, could not attend because of still being in recuperation from an auto accident.
Our group played hopscotch with a couple of other tour groups and we had many cheerful exchanges with them. One group was a Woman Tour of about 14 women, each aged 50 or older. Another group was a mixed group from Naperville (Chicago) and we secretly feared that they had come to collect the ferry fees we had stiffed the Chicago Peddlers for when we were in Wisconsin.
We had no really serious crashes. Jean Messenheimer couldn’t ride because of a lingering problem from a much earlier accident. Harry Messenheimer, who had just recovered from a previous injury, had a couple of minor spills, and terminated the ride a day early to avoid aggravating his condition. His example of tenacity throughout the ride was an inspiration to all. The Creagers caught bad colds as soon as they arrived, and their condition was reminiscent of the last act of “Camille (or the Lady of the Camellias)”. However they managed at least short rides each day, displaying a lot of moxie. I believe that we had no more than three or four flats in the group. There were two incidents of near murder involving Bonnie Kamp, concerning a failure of Derral Idleman to adequately communicate about being picked up at the Lewis and Clark caves, and concerning her husband not letting her gamble at the St. Charles Casino, where she expected to make a financial killing, since it was her birthday, it was Friday the 13th, and there was a full moon. The full moon, and possibly the libations at the Stone Hill Winery, somehow influenced some to make a night time photography foray into the Hermann cemetery, which was next to the motel. Our exit from the cemetery, waving flashlights, caused some concern from a little boy who had just arrived at the motel with his parents.
A fine time was had by all (particularly Bob Reynolds, whom we considered sedating) and we recommend the Trail tour to all those thinking about trying it.