Monday, September 29, 2014

Bike Kirkwood & Grant's Trail Photo-Tour

On Saturday morning, I got up bright and early and rode my bicycle to Keysor Elementary for the Bicycle Tour of Kirkwood. This was an event planned and sponsored by Trailnet, and was part of a larger project which seeks to (a) educate school children and parents about safe riding (and encourage more of it) and (b) share information about Complete Streets efforts in Kirkwood. While I don't have any small people of my own, I wanted to support the effort and energy and be part of the group. So I rode to the school and had a complimentary banana while I waited for our first ride.

The original plan had been to do a five-mile ride, but there were so many little-little kids (some still on trikes) and a lack of available police enforcement meant that streets were not closed for the event. So instead, we did two rides: a one-miler and a 2.5-miler. Both were very slow and steady so everyone could participate. They were fun! I moseyed through streets I was less familiar with and had a nice chat with the Trailnet staff who were coordinating the event and leading the rides. I found that after the ride, though, I wanted to ride more, so I rode with a couple of volunteers toward Grant's Trail and separated from them to continue on to the trail as they headed home for the day.

I decided to use the opportunity to put some miles on the bike while there's daylight for it, and to finally take more photos of the trail. Since I ride Kirkwood to Mehlville and back again, most of the trail photos are from the trip toward Mehlville, and then I tried to get some more detailed shots and signage pics on the way back. I should have had more to eat, though (I'd had a couple granola bars and the banana, as well as several bottles of water) -- by the time I was slogging up Sappington Road to Big Bend, my legs were toast and I was starving. I hadn't really planned to ride nearly thirty miles that day, and hadn't eaten for it. Duly noted. I should plan to stick some granola bars in my bike bag just because. I had the biggest meal after I got home!

For me, the trail never disappoints. It can get busy around Grant's Farm, and certain entrance points with larger parking lots, but because I mosey (generally 10-13 mph), I just don't find it that hard to negotiate the other users on the trail. I can see where, if your goal is to get your miles in and barrel through at 20mph, you'd have issues, but (a) that's not the right place for it, and (b) it's against the rules to go too fast, so...

Anyhoo, largely without comment, here's the photo-tour of Grant's Trail.

There's a playground near the Kirkwood Trailhead.

Restrooms and a waterfountain - these were operational on 9-27, but not 12-1, FYI.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
The trail smelled alternatively damp (green) and sort of rotten (brown), and, as you can see from the photos, was stuck in between the lingering flowers of summer and the first color changes of fall. It was warm - mid-80s - and I suspect we'll get scant color on most of the trees this year as some trees are already going brown and dropping leaves in a clatter whenever the wind blows. Still, I so enjoy that this trail passes businesses, woods, bridges, highways, and horses, and is all within miles of my home. Because of it's proximity (and resulting accessibility), it's probably my favorite. Perhaps another time I can photo-tour Creve Coeur Lake, but I find that trail much busier and more dangerous to do without directing full attention to errant pedestrians and folks renting bikes (who may or may not know how to use them). 

Daylight Savings Time ends in just over a month (November 2). There are just a few perfect riding days left. I hope you (and I hope I) can make the most of them. 

Cheers and happy riding!


  1. Oh... I am so totally feeling the impending darkness closing in. Sigh. Aren't trails like that wonderful? I feel so blessed to live in a city with hundreds of miles of bike trails at my fingertips.

    1. I love multi-user trails, largely because I bike so slowly and love that they are usually pretty flat. We have some great trails in the metro area, but I would love to see them better connected so that we could use them to go places instead of just as recreation. :)

      I was in Colorado this summer, and we drove from Denver to Grand Lake. There were so many paths along the way! (Many connecting singlepaths for MTBs, which isn't my preferred style of biking, though.) I was shocked at how many folks I saw riding on highways IN THE MOUNTAINS, climbing these crazy, windy STEEP hills. I feel badly about complaining about the little hills on my way to and from church and work. Eep!

    2. Yes... connectivity is a HUGE issue - especially since the trails usually run along creeks and rivers which don't exactly run in a grid system! Though Denver is planning to add a number of "bike boulevards" to help with that issue.

      And I had to laugh at your comment about the hills. I think perhaps "hill" is defined differently in different parts of the world. A few weeks ago CatMan and I took a new route up to Red Rocks - we mistakenly thought it would be easier. Ha! I thought I was gonna have a coronary! After we got home he used Google Earth and calculated that over about a 7 mile stretch we gained 1000 feet in elevation! No wonder I felt like dying!

      It does get easier with time though. The first time I tried to ride up one of the big hills in my neighborhood I got passed by a small child pulling a wagon! Not kidding! Of course, switching out my 35 pound cromoly hybrid for a 17 pound carbon fiber road bike helped a bit. Anyhow, interesting tidbit... pretty much all the road bikes sold here in Denver are outfitted with "compact" gearing to make it easier to deal with the hills.

      Anyhow, sorry to blather... Happy Riding!

    3. That's fascinating, Cat! I do think I'd benefit from additional gears and a lighter bike for some commutes. I need to get my MTB converted, as it has 21 gears and an aluminum frame. If I get better handlebars and slicker tires, replace the rigid fork (there's a SHOX on there now), and get some fenders and a back rack, I'll be curious to see how it handles the hills that feel like they thwart me on the 3/10 speeds.

    4. I put Continental slicks on my old cromoly hybrid and it made a HUGE difference - much less road resistance so easier riding. I thought about replacing the handlebars but ultimately I just raised them about an inch or two (that was as far as I could without replacing the stem) and I got Ergon grips. That was enough to get rid of the wrist pain I was having.

      Still... I find that weight is the primary issue when dealing with hills. Lower gears help, but only to the extent that you can still go fast enough to keep up any momentum. My hybrid has plenty of gears, but it's just sooo heavy that when I'm in the low gear on a steep hill I can barely go fast enough to keep the bike upright! On my road bike I'm in a much higher gear, but I can actually get enough momentum so the bike will keep rolling forward if I stop pedaling - at least for a few seconds - something I can't do on the heavy bike.

    5. I do think you're right about weight. My ten speed's only about 7-10 pounds lighter than the upright bike. I also have a hard time shifting because of the downtube location and imprecise gear positions, which can affect pedaling up a hill for sure. I mostly want to switch the handlebars on the mountain bike because they are REALLY narrow - more so than on other bikes so you fit through small spaces more easily. Like trees and rocks on singlepaths.


Let the bicycle talk begin...