Day 6 - I Found Lewis and Clark

One Last Chance to a help BikeCLE

Bike Cleveland (BikeCLE) is a 501(c)(3) advocacy non-profit organization for people on bikes in the Greater Cleveland area. Representing over 1000 dues paying members and more than 32 local businesses, they make sure that any time the conversation turns to transportation — that people on bikes are being considered alongside people in cars. They work to improve policy, infrastructure, and legislation to help make our roads places that serve people and communities, not just traffic.

If you want to help out, please support this worthy organization by becoming a member. It will cost you $35 (or $60 for a family) but you'll get a fancy membership card, invitations to special events and discounts at over 35 local businesses including a number of bike shops. If you are really motivated, you can also donate a few extra dollars as a one-time contribution. My goal is to get as many new memberships as possible and possibly a donation or two. It’s a good group of dedicated people working for all of us to make the streets a safe place for bicyclists. If you do not live in Northeast Ohio, join any way and know that you’ve supported a good cause.

Augusta to St. Charles

The last day of the trip would find me waking up early for the shortest ride of the journey. This morning I would ride from Augusta to Frontier Park in St. Charles and then on to pick up my rental car. Frontier Park is the home of the Lewis and Clark Memorial Sculpture and a symbolic end (or start) of the trail. The trail part of the ride is about 34 miles and the road part of the ride to get the rental car would add another 3 or 4 miles. 

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Breakfast at the Lindenhof

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The Lindenhof Bed & Breakfast was a nice way to spend the final night on the trail. Augusta has a very small town feel and everyone I had contact with was welcoming and friendly. The Lindenhof was no different as the proprietor made me feel at home and gave me a good overview of the property as well as suggestions for dinner. 

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i wanted to get on the trail at first light because I knew I had the start of the drive home ahead of me. My breakfast of an egg dish and bacon was ready at 6:45 am and was amazing. I’m not a huge breakfast eater but I had no trouble finishing this meal. I really enjoyed my stay in Augusta  I packed my panniers, filled my water bottles and set up my bike for the ride to St. Charles.   

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Augusta to Weldon Spring

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The morning was crisp and clear as I made my way down the hill I had climbed the afternoon before. It was a bit sad thinking this was the last day on the trail but also exciting knowing I would complete my journey. Once at the bottom of the hill I turned on to the trail and headed east towards my destination. 

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 The sun was low in the sky and the light was perfect to grab a few pictures of this part of the trail  The scenery was similar to the previous day with the bluffs on my left and either the river, woods or farms on my right The trail was empty and I could tell I was the first person out this morning as I cleared the path of spider webs that had formed overnight. I actually had to stop once and remove a web from the camera on my helmet. 

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This was the coolest of any morning on the trail with a temperature of 45 degrees. Once I started moving it was hardly noticeable and the morning sun warmed things up quickly.

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The trail opened up occasionally offering great views of either farm land or the river. It was cool enough that steam was rising from the river which made for an interesting sight. At one point I came upon a section of the river where a large amount of tree branches were swirling in a side current near the shore. 

 

 

 

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There were a number of places along this part of the trail where the bluffs moved further north allowing for a few houses perched on top of hills overlooking the river. The views must be spectacular from these nice homes.  

 

 

 

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 After a fairly quick 12 or 15 miles I arrived at the Weldon Spring Trailhead. I stopped for about 15 minutes to eat a banana and refill a water bottle. The trailhead information board discussed an interesting feature in this spot, a nuclear waste storage facility!  

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Weldon Spring to St. Charles

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The first part of the trail from Weldon Spring to St. Charles was almost identical to what I had been riding all morning. The trail surface was perfect and the recent rains kept the dust down to almost nothing. Although I was still somewhat in the wilderness, you could start to feel the presence of getting nearer to a population center. One sign was hearing airplanes for the first time in six days. 

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The trail still offered some some wonderful views and it was in this area where I took my favorite picture of the trip. This path that led into a farmers field with a single tree in the distance just screamed “ride down here”.

 

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After a few more miles I arrived at the Greens Bottom Road Trailhead. It was a small facility without a restroom that looked more like a bus stop. You could tell I was getting closer to a larger population center as the traffic was increasing on the road to my south and there were pockets of housing developments to my north.

I arrived on outskirts of St. Charles after about 30 miles of riding. The trail weaved in and out of residential areas and retail shopping sites. I approached a large arena (I found out later this is the Family Arena) and the trail took a tour around it’s parking lot. Next, the trail went through the property of what looked like a cement factory and headed back into a residential area. The trail was pretty busy at this point and filled with joggers and other cyclists.

Arriving in St. Charles - Frontier Park

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A company was setting up a large event of some type at Frontier Park. There were many rental trucks clogging the trail filled with tents, tables and chairs. Workers lined the path as I headed towards Frontier Park. To be honest, I almost rode by the memorial statue of Lewis and Clark as the area was just so busy with the setup. I looked to my right and saw the small circular garden area that contained the statue.

It was a long way from Clinton, Missouri and there was a brief period of quiet satisfaction that the journey was completed on time and with very few issues.

I knew I still had 3 or 4 miles to the rental car counter so I rested for a few minutes and filled a water bottle just in case I took a wrong turn or two.

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St. Charles Trailhead to Enterprise Rental Car

Enterprise had called me to confirm the pickup a couple of days earlier and I mentioned I was on the trail. They offered to pick me up as long as I gave them a 30 minute notice before I arrived in Frontier Park. When I arrived I thought about calling them and just waiting for the pick up but it was a nice day and I still had the “legs” left to get me there. In retrospect, I should have called them because the route was not only hilly (why is it always uphill?) but was also filled with traffic.

You can see from this elevation plot the downhill when I left that morning in Augusta, the flat trail and then the climb away from the river to Enterprise. I turned on my flashing headlight and taillight to make myself more visible and arrived unscathed with a new appreciation for those who ride in hilly terrain. I quickly loaded my bike and gear into the small SUV and started my journey home.

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Quick Summary

After a few days to think about this bike adventure I may come back here and give a few additional thoughts but here is a quick summary of my overall experience.

  • If you are going to do this by yourself, with a small group of riders or even a large group, use a service to help set it up. Yes, you could do everything by yourself but things change rapidly when you are on the trail and having your back covered is a pretty good feeling. I used Noble Invention Bike Touring and would highly recommend them.

  • If you are going self contained, pack light. If you think you need it you probably don’t. I sent a package of some clothes home after the first stop that I just didn’t need.

  • Buy or rent a good bike (with a little wider tire) and make sure you get it serviced before leaving. There were two instances in my journey where I ran across someone with a broken bike. In one case it was a frame crack and in another case a seat post had broke. You should also know how to change a flat, as I saw one rider who had two flats at the same time. I had no mechanical problems at all as I’m sure is the same with most riders but be aware there are places on the trail that are pretty remote.

  • Dust. The crushed limestone surface makes for great riding but on hot and dry days the dust is everywhere. I would recommend bringing along a bandana to cover your mouth and nose on these types of days. I was fortunate that I only had the first two or three days where it was dusty. An evening rain or two settled most of the dust down for my ride thereafter.

  • I really lucked out and had six days of almost perfect weather. I had one day where the temperatures got into the 90’s and was very humid. If you are going to ride six days like this, make sure you hydrate properly and bring along snacks.

  • Bring a camera or a good camera phone. All of the pictures in this blog were taken with an iPhone X. You will want to record some of the sights for sure.

  • You should plan ahead a bit before taking off in the morning. Each morning I would write down the mile marker of the upcoming trailheads. In this way I would know when to stop for a rest and refuel. There are places on the trail (in particular on the west side) where the trailheads are pretty far apart.

  • Just be aware that cell phone coverage on the trail is pretty spotty even around trailheads on the western end of the trail. It seemed to get better the further east I traveled.

  • You don’t need to be a world class bike rider to complete this journey. The ride is fairly easy but you will be in the saddle for 4-6 hours each day. The biggest complaint I heard on the trail was that “my butt is sore”. Also, be aware the western end of the trail has a long gradual slope up. There was nothing steep about this at all but you know you are climbing.

  • Have fun, relax and enjoy the ride. I made a mental note not to rush through the trail and took stops frequently to take a picture or just look around. It’s not a race to the next trailhead. This really was a wonderful experience for me.

Thanks for joining me on the ride…. please take a moment and donate something to BikeCLE.

Jim - September 2018

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Video Montage of Day 6