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Old 02-14-11, 08:26 AM   #1
Dale Williams
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Katy Trail conditions for skinny tires?

HI. I would like to ride the Katy Trail sometime. But, what sort of surface would I be riding on? I ride a Catrike recumbent trike with Schwalbe Marathon tires. They are pretty skinny and off of pavement I can feel every little bump as I have no suspension. Has anyone else ridden the trail on a recumbent trike? Will it shake my fillings loose?
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Old 02-22-11, 02:26 PM   #2
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I'm a little hesitant to be the first to reply, because I can't talk about the trail from the standpoint of a recumbent of any sort. I can answer some of your other questions. First, how narrow are your Schwlbe Marathon tires? I have a 27x1 1/4 Marathon which is way more than adequate for Katy trail. Second, the Katy is crushed limestone. Parts are well-ridden and smooth. Other parts are not heavily used and will have plently of vibration. I say vibration because the trail isn't really "rough", but it's rougher than a chip and seal type pavement, you will feel constant vibration. Actually, now that I think about it, some of the lesser used portions may definitely feel "rough". While a road/hybrid bike doesn't have a suspension, your arms and legs and some seat types provide more shock absorbing capacity than on a recumbent (I'm guessing this - I've never ridden one), so what feels OK to me may feel rough to you. The things I think you'd want to watch out for on a recumbant are the very rough places (I found about a half dozen of them on my Katy trail ride last spring), some, but not all will be marked with "Rough Trail" signs; erosion channels across the trail, rarely more than 4-5 inches across and an inch or two deep. While these aren't everywhere on the trail, on a long ride you'll find some. They aren't marked, and if you don't see them and slow down, you get a jolt. 700C size wheels roll across them easily, you just feel them really good, especially if you don't slow down. Smaller wheels would be worse. If the channels are much bigger than the 4 - 5 inches mentioned (which is very rare) you'll see them in advance. On less travelled sections, such as Hermann - Jefferson City the trail is more like two hard packed tracks with grass growing down the center. I don't know how wide of a track your trike has, but you may end up with at least one wheel on a portion of trail no one ever rides on, that would be rougher. In these lightly used areas the grass has also grown up on the sides, so if you meet someone you'll have to pull over a little more on the side in order for there to be room for both of you to pass.
In conclusion, I'd guess that parts of the trail would be very fine (and comfortable) for a recumbent, parts would have pretty much vibration or even roughness, and then keep and eye out for the erosion channels and very soft or rough spots. If your tires are wide enough to run with lower air pressure than usual without getting pinch flats, I'd recommend that. I've ridden the trail on a fully loaded Cannondale touring bike with wide tires (700x38's I think) and 70 lbs tire pressure which worked very well, and frequently on a cyclocross bike with 700x32 cyclecross tubulars which ride very nicely on the trail anywhere in the 50-75 lbs pressure range, depending on how soft or firm of a ride I want. Ask more questions if you wish and I'll try to answer them.
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Old 02-26-11, 06:47 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info, tcarl. That helps a lot. I'm thinking of changing to a fatter tire and less pressure. I'm sure, based on your info, that will smooth my ride somewhat. I grew up in Ky. and live in Wyoming now. My wife and I travel back there at least once a year. I-70 parallels the trail for a while and we wouldn't mind taking some of it in. We appreciate your input. Ride safe.
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Old 02-26-11, 07:14 PM   #4
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I use 1-3/8 Shwalbe Marathons on my hybrid and it is about ideal for the trail. I know people who regularly ride road bikes on the trail with 1" tires and they do well.
Personally, I have never even sat on a recumbent so I don't know how it would be, but from my observations it seems like the trikes have high rolling resistance on the trail. It looked to me like riders on cat trikes have to crank hard to keep up. FWIW, I rode hwy 364 to Weldon Springs and back today and it was ever so soft. Definitely some mild but constant rolling resistance.
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Old 03-02-11, 11:31 PM   #5
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Dale - If you're traveling I-70, I'd recommend starting with the Rocheport - Jefferson City segment. If both you and your wife are both riding the trail do an out and back from Rocheport, which is just off I-70. Just west of Rocheport is the tunnel, east of Rocheport is a very scenic section. If you're riding the trail alone and your wife doesn't ride, consider starting at Rocheport and riding to Jefferson City. I'm going to guess that's 30 or 40 miles, but check a trail mileage chart to be sure. Your wife, after dropping you off in Rocheport can look around the shops in town, or go into and visit Columbia, then take US 63 south to Jefferson city to meet you. To get back to I-70, take US 54 back north rather than return to Columbia on US 63. As far as the Katy trail is concerned, this is a very scenic section, and well traveled, so it will be smoother than some sections. There is a restaurant in Rocheport, a store before McBaine, a tavern in McBaine, a private campground with a store about halfway to Jeff. City, and a few restaurants in Hartsburg (they're closed on Mondays I think) - so food should be available. Check all this information on one of the Katy trail sites for better accuracy than my memory. There are other Katy trail ride options than this. I just thought I'd throw this out as a scenic part of the trail close to I-70. Enjoy it!
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Old 03-03-11, 06:15 PM   #6
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Thanks, tcarl, for the information. Don't know when this will happen, if at all. But it sounds like good advice. Maybe we'll see you along the trail.
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Old 03-05-11, 06:48 AM   #7
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Hello Dale, tcarl has it right, nothing wrong with his/her memory! I have been riding the trail for many years now, I agree with tcarl that section of the trail, Rocheport to Jeff City, is very nice and scenic, but almost all of it is nice . If you haven't yet, you can go to bikekatytrail.com and get lots of info and opinions on riding sections of the Katy. Not touting another web site, just providing information.

I have seen and talk to several recumbent cyclist on the trail, don't recall hearing of any problems. Recumbents are not uncommon. I guess, as for being a rough ride, that would depend on recents rains and work load of the DNR, they do a really good job of taking care of the trail, but there is always something to watch for with crushed limestone.

I'm using 700 x 32's on a touring bike and softer 700 x 38's with a bit more tread on a hybrid, not skinny tires, but can tell the difference in resistance. I have seen skinny tires, on the trail though, street tires I guess, have never asked about how well they do. Hopefully someone will give you first hand recumbent information.

Hope you get a chance to ride the Katy, I think you would enjoy it. Maybe I'll see ya out there, I'm the funny looking four eyed fellow on the Fuji Touring.

Last edited by DW99; 03-05-11 at 07:08 AM. Reason: Tires I use.
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Old 12-20-11, 10:52 AM   #8
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Man I love this forum.

I was just doing some route planning for KATY and was wondering if heading out on the nishiki with 27" x 1 3/8" kendas might be a mistake. And after one search the answer is right here.

So thanks to every one who answered. I'm getting excited about this trip.
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Old 02-12-12, 04:07 AM   #9
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Camping. From what I see on the websites, you have to camp at the commercial RV campsites along the Katy. We are looking to do the Katy but don't like those type of campsites. Nor do we like the put your tent out in the big wide open field sites. We like wooded spots especially to hang our hammocks. This is the how we do Greenbrier River Trail & the C&O Canal.
We've been avoiding B&B's but will do hostels.

Does anyone have experience here?
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Old 02-13-12, 09:27 PM   #10
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At hiker59, most of the campgrounds are for regular tent camping, although there are some RV campers at the State Fair campgrounds and at Katy Round House campground. At Katy Roundhouse the RV Campers are separate from tent camping as is Klondyke Park near Augusta. Have not stayed at the Fairgrounds, so don't know how that is situated. Most campgrounds on the Katy, that I know of, are not "big wide open fields" as you say, but just regular campgrounds, like with trees, picnic tables, fire rings and such.

At BikeKatyTrail you can click on the different towns at the top of the page and get a good idea of what is offered. You can also go to the comments section and probably find out what you want to know for different locations. Hope it works out for you, it's a fun ride.
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Old 02-16-12, 07:16 AM   #11
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Katy trail

Thanx DW99.
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Old 02-16-12, 07:23 AM   #12
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We're looking to go at the end of may into june. Does the trail get real muddy or is it hard packed enough to get by on 1.5'' tires?
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Old 02-20-12, 04:38 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by at_hiker59 View Post
We're looking to go at the end of may into june. Does the trail get real muddy or is it hard packed enough to get by on 1.5'' tires?
1.5" tires will do fine and even more narrow tires work good as it is a crushed limestone surface, you can see my comment above. It is more dusty than soft and a few places, mostly south of Sedalia, where it seems to have a little more sand than others. It will slow you down just a little if it rains but it drains well for the most part. If you are riding for more than a day or two it is best to carry a rag to wipe the chain down and relube, it can get a pretty gritty on long rides. Good luck.
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Old 02-20-12, 08:46 PM   #14
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Late May into June: If it's raining or just finished raining it will be soft, but rideable. After a rain when it dries out, the surface will be beautiful. If it hasn't rained for a week or so, it will be getting dusty on the well used sections. Since there can be heavy thunderstorm downpours in the Spring, watch out for little erosion channels across the trail. They aren't a problem usually, but you're better off it you see them before you hit one.
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Old 03-14-12, 11:58 AM   #15
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Thought I would mention since it hasn't been pointed out yet, crushed limestone trails in the midwest like the KATY and others I ride on in the area are nice, solid, predictable surfaces, most notably in the spring, summer, fall, and early winter months.
The only REAL issue with these trails is in the late winter and very early spring and that is due to the "frost heave". Over the winter the repetitive freeze/thaw cycle fluffs up the limestone trails into a very porous consistency, this is a big problem for road tire widths. The regular rains of March/April quickly settle and repack the trail. Mountain bike tires are not nearly as affected, allowing the trails to still be ridden, but there is usually a narrow window in late winter where these trails can't be ridden on road tires.
This past winter was not as much an issue, as we really didn't have a winter here.
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Old 03-27-12, 11:10 AM   #16
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I ride the Katy often. While many people do ride road bikes on the Katy, there are numerous spots of loose gravel, bumps, and soft surfaces. I'm most comfortable with at least a 32mm tire. Easy rolling fat tires with smooth treads seem to work well.
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