The day started early, my flight for St Louis left at 6:30AM. To allow time for US customs and security, I had to be at the airport by 5AM which meant getting up at 4:30AM. Given I was up until 10PM getting packed, it didn’t make for a restful night. When I arrived at the airport, the Delta counter was busier than I’ve ever seen it, about 60 people in line waiting to drop baggage off. Luckily I opted to pay for First Class for the flights down to St Louis, so I had a far shorter checkin time. The extra charge was only $100 and includes 2 checked bags. Since I was bringing all of my biking stuff with me anyway, it only ended up being about $70 more for First Class which was well worth it. About the only advantage of early morning flights is getting a view of sunrise from the air.
The flight to Minneapolis was only about 1.5 hours and went by quickly. There is a new lounge in Minneapolis airport since the last time I’ve been there, the Relax lounge. This is fairly similar to the Plaza Lounges we have in Canada. It features a full breakfast, free alcohol and a nice sitting area.
It was a bit too early to have a drink, but they had oatmeal, berries and some meat and cheese which made an excellent breakfast.
The plane ride to St. Louis was a fairly short 1.5 hours as well. On the approach to the airport, I got my first view of the Katy Trail.
The trail is closest to the tree line on the left hand side of the river. St. Louis has an impressive looking airport. I’m not always a fan of buildings from the 1950’s, but this is perfectly fitting for an airport.
The temperature in St Louis was above 30C and humid. When I planned the trip I was thinking it would be cooling down in Missouri just like it cools down back home when September starts, but given Missouri is considerably further south there core summer season is longer. A high of 30C is actually an average temperature for the first week of September.
Finding a decent rental bike isn’t easy, and I would need a good one since I would be putting in some long days on the trail. I’ve never seen a decent rental bike from a place that wasn’t also a full service bike shop. I checked out the options closest to St Charles where I would be starting out, but all they rented were cheap hybrid bikes. These would be fine for a couple hours on the trail, but no for covering 128KM in a day. I ended up locating a bike shop in St Louis that rented cyclocross bikes. A cyclocross bike is basically a road bike that’s been toughened up a bit and can handle rougher terrain. I took the airport train from the airport into St Louis, and caught a bus for the final few KMs to get me to the shop. I left my suitcase at the shop and tested my packed saddle bags on the bike. I went out for a quick test ride and everything looked good, so I called an Uber and headed off to my B&B in St Charles where the trail starts. I had considered riding out to the start of the trail, but there weren’t any particularly cycle friendly options and since I had 106KM to cover on my first day I didn’t want push it since it was about 20 miles from the bike shop to the start of the trail.
Downtown St Charles has a wonderful historical downtown. There is the original railway station that the MKT used.
In a park next to the station, there is a monument to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Tomorrow I’m off to Hermann, MO, a distance of 106KM.