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Training for the Katy Trail in 1 Day (225 flat miles)

Old 05-20-15, 06:02 PM
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DirtRoadRunner
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Training for the Katy Trail in 1 Day (225 flat miles)

I have a crazy idea to ride the entire Katy Trail in one day. The trail is 225 miles of nearly totally flat gravel rail-to-trail, mostly along the Missouri River. My plan is to ride it in late September (cool temps and a full moon for riding after dark), and ride it west-to-east to take advantage of prevailing winds. I have a few people who agreed to run SAG for me during this ride and meet me every ~50 miles or so with food/water/etc.

The question is, how the heck do I properly train for this? I've been averaging 100-120 miles a week so far this spring. On May 10th, I did a 103 mile paved ride with 5,600 feet of climbing and averaged 14.0 mph. My goal for the Katy would be to maintain a 15 mph rolling average on the flat, gravel trail. This would be 15 hours of pedaling, plus a couple hours of rest.

I'm thinking something like 1 to 3 150 mile rides around here (where it is hilly) prior to the Katy. This would be about a 10 hour ride, but still 5 hours shorter than my goal time for the Katy. Since I've never ridden farther than 103 miles, I'm not sure how my body would handle a 50% one-day increase in both total mileage and distance. The one wild card with the Katy is that there are almost no breaks from pedaling, as the flat trail means you never get to coast.

Any other suggestions/tips for a first-time mega ride like this? I have a very comfortable All-City Space Horse gravel bike that I'll be using for this ride - the same bike I currently ride my centuries on.
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Old 05-21-15, 09:07 AM
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I've done a few double-centuries and also the KATY trail end-to-end 4 times. However I take about 5 days to do the KATY. I've considered doing it in one day, but my double centuries were on flat roads plus when I was younger (around 50 YO).

The first thing that I'll mention is that the KATY isn't totally flat. The section from Clinton to Boonville has hills although they are rails-to-trails grade and seldom over 3%. Still you'll feel them.

Second is to plan your trip from Clinton to Machens like you said. It's more downhill and usually with the prevailing winds. The drop from the bluffs down into Boonville will really speed things up.

Third is that it's illegal to ride on the KATY after dark. I suggest that you start before well dawn around June 21st or 22nd which is the longest day of the year. You'll be breaking the law longer in September with more chances of getting caught and stopped especially as you get closer to the more populous St. Charles area. Remember that there are park rangers who do patrol the KATY.

Fourth is that you will be slower on the KATY than on roads. It's hard packed, but still more mushy than roads especially if the trail has been rained on recently. Lower tire pressures might help as it will keep you from getting beat up so much. Maybe start out with normal tire pressures and reduce if you feel necessary.

Fifth going from a century to 200+ miles can be done. I've done it. I've also failed twice and had to DNF at 160 miles due to knee problems. The best advice is to keep ahead of hydration and carbs. If you get dehydrated or low on blood sugar, you are going to pay and it's hard to catch back up. Also be careful not to go anaerobic. I usually kept my heart rate under 130 BPM.

Sixth is to train like you are going to race. I'd recommend mostly flat, long distances. If you have some gravel or crushed limestone paths or roads, all the better.

Last, there are people who have done this ride before. You might want to google some to see if you can find such persons to pick their brains.
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Old 05-21-15, 09:25 AM
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Two more things!

1. The KATY trail is 238 miles. They added about 13 miles recently from St. Charles to Machens. Add about another hour to your estimates.

2. The mile markers read high as they are based on the old rail road line and not the bike trail. Machens is at mile marker 26.9 so subtract 27 miles from mile markers on the trail to know how much more there is to go. Here's a good chart.

Katy Trail & Mileage Chart and Distances
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Old 05-21-15, 09:36 AM
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If you can ride 100miles comfortably, I don't see why you can't ride the entire distance. Just make sure to eat enough
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Old 05-21-15, 10:28 AM
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Thanks for the info. Mid-June isn't going to happen for me and this ride - I haven't trained enough and have other obligations. I'm aware that I'm breaking the law by riding it both before dawn and after dark, and accept that I may be caught and fined. I plan to start around 5AM in September and finish around 9-10PM. I also do not plan to ride all the way to Machens, and will finish in St. Charles instead - I've ridden that stretch before and don't find it particularly interesting, so I'm fine with only riding 225 miles of the trail rather than the full 237.

The problem with training for me is it is very hilly where I live (Farmington), so it will be difficult for me to get in long, flat training rides unless I drive for an hour to ride along the Mississippi or in the bootheel, or 2 hours to ride on the Katy. I might just do this later in the summer to get some training in that is at least kind of like the Katy (we have lots of gravel that I can and do ride, but it too has a ton of hills).
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Old 05-21-15, 12:16 PM
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John Hughes Brevet training series is pretty good and will get you there easily
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Old 05-21-15, 07:57 PM
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For randonneuring rides, it's pretty normal to jump from 200k to a 300k with no intermediate steps. If you're not supposed to be on it at night, I'd just go find a good route that you CAN ride at night rather than sticking to that one. If they catch you and fine you, do they make you leave the trail, or how does that work?
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Old 05-22-15, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
For randonneuring rides, it's pretty normal to jump from 200k to a 300k with no intermediate steps. If you're not supposed to be on it at night, I'd just go find a good route that you CAN ride at night rather than sticking to that one. If they catch you and fine you, do they make you leave the trail, or how does that work?
If caught you will certainly be escorted off the trail. You could be fined. You could even be arrested. It would certainly suck to be within 30 or so miles of the goal only to have it pulled out from under you.
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Old 05-22-15, 07:36 AM
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I could hop off and ride on Highways 94 and 364 when it gets dark, but 94 is curvy, hilly, with no shoulders, and gets a lot of winery traffic. Not a good place to be on a bike after dark.

The other option is of course a 2 AM start - which I may consider, and would result in about 5 hours of pre-dawn riding.

BTW, I used to ride it pretty often around St. Charles when I lived in St. Louis, and can't say that I ever saw any kind of park ranger or LEO on it. I'm willing to roll the dice and take my chances. Looks like the park office is in Columbia (middle of the trail), or about a 90 minute drive from St. Charles.

I will seriously consider the 2AM start though - just not sure how that will work with my performance - I really don't ever get up that early. Suppose I could try a long 2AM gravel ride around here where there is little to no traffic and see how I feel.

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Old 05-22-15, 01:12 PM
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If you are going to start at 2 AM, make sure to have good lights as the section from Clinton to Boonville is more technical than most of the rest of the Katy. Of course good lights will make it easier for the cops to see you.

Again you might want to reconsider September over June. There's about 2.4 hrs less daylight in the middle of September (12:27 hrs) compared to the middle of June (14:51 hrs). It might even be worth putting the ride off until 2016 so that you can train more. Maybe do something like Boonville to St. Charles this year.
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Old 05-26-15, 09:33 PM
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Riding Hwy 94 = death wish. Hilly, windy, no shoulder, and too many Andretti-wannabes.
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Old 05-27-15, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bransom View Post
Riding Hwy 94 = death wish. Hilly, windy, no shoulder, and too many Andretti-wannabes.
RAAM uses it. But then they have support vehicles following them. Back in the day (pre-Katy) we'd ride on Hwy 94, but it is too busy now in a lot of places.
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Old 05-27-15, 09:44 AM
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Yeah, I'd do it with support vehicles — and provided it wasn't the Fall "Let's Go To A Winery, Get Hammered, Then Drive Really Fast"-season. The further out you get, the less deadly it gets, but Weldon Spring to (at least) Augusta can be nuts. And the St. Charles to Weldon Spring section is basically a freeway now since 364 opened. I'm sure there's some combination of surface streets that cover that section but I'm not sure what they'd be.
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Old 06-04-15, 05:45 AM
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Why not just ride the old BAM route?
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Old 06-04-15, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
Why not just ride the old BAM route?
That brings back memories. I did the BAM century a few times. That thing was hilly so the idea of doing BAM or the Half BAM was very intimidating to me at the time.
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Old 06-04-15, 07:38 AM
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As an update, I also asked this same question on STLBiking and was again talked out of the ride . After reading the responses and thinking about it some more, 225 flat, straight miles would probably drive me nuts since I'm used to the rolling hills and scenery down here in SE Missouri. Perhaps I'll attempt the Katy in 2016, depending how my riding is going next year.

Instead, I will be riding a 150 mile Ozark gravel road loop in September to cap off my riding season. I have a route already picked of roads I know well and feel comfortable riding after dark. The route will have around 10,000 feet of climbing and be around 130 miles of gravel and 20 miles of pavement. This should be more fun and easier for me to train for. I also rode 122 paved miles on Monday, so going for 150 of gravel 3+ months from now is a very reasonable training goal.
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Old 06-04-15, 09:55 AM
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The Tour de Cape in September is a great ride. I'm going to try to make it this year.

Tour de Cape Girardeau 2015 - Home

The Tour de Corn is later this month.

Come ride the Tour de Corn - East Prairie, Mo - June 27th, 2015 at 7:30 a.m.
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