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  • Katy Trail Photos
  • Route Maps and Profile
  • Mileage Data: East-West
  • Mileage Data: West-East

  • Media Solutions Consultancy

    BIKING THE KATY TRAIL - PLANNING TIPS


    My equipment requirements were determined by accommodation needs. Since I would be staying in motels overnight, I could carry very little. That allowed a reasonable pace and minimized the risk of complications.

    • Bike: 1997 Trek 730 hybrid. The bike is not only old, it has plenty of miles from it (~8,000 miles). Everything is stock except for a new rear wheel purchased in 2005. The only non-standard equipment was a Cannondale rear luggage rack that I bought off Craigslist, and cheap Panaracer tires (700x35) purchased from Bike Nashbar. The tires were more suited to road riding, but they worked well enough and I didn’t have any flats for the entire trip.
    • Clothing: Don’t skimp on good quality riding clothing and have a fresh set (except for gloves) for each day to stay comfortable. Also use good cycling shoes rather than sneakers, preferably compatible with clipless pedals.
    • Safety: The Katy Trail is safe and benefits from excellent cellular phone coverage along almost the entire route. The closely spaced towns also provide additional protection and support, especially in the east. The most westerly portions of the trail do not have as much infrastructure, but there are plenty of farms around, and utility workers are not an uncommon sight.
      • Medical: Carry a basic medical kit that you can use to repair damage from typical spills off the bike. But also think about insect and animal bites. Get your tetanus shot updated if necessary. I recommend at least one trauma pack to deal with severe bleeding. Make sure you take sunscreen. I learned the hard way - the sun beats down on only one side for most of the trip and you will get roasted in sunny conditions.
        • I recommend using a heart rate monitor which may give advance warning of a medical problem.
        • Make sure you top up your water at all times. You may need it for more than drinking.
        • Where a helmet. Some people think it’s goofy to wear a helmet on a slow trail, but it only takes a minor spill to put you in a coma.
      • Location: Know where you are at all times. The trailheads have excellent information on each portion of the trail, but it is advisable to carry your own maps and route information. At a minimum, I would recommend:
        • A basic cycling computer. You need to know how fast you are riding so that you can estimate distance, arrival times, and plan departure times with awareness of weather and other conditions. Ensure it has fresh batteries or is fully charged.
        • A cell phone.
        • Flashlight.
    • Nutrition: Don’t mess around with your food and fluid intake, especially if you are riding for long durations (+3 hours). I burned over 12,000 calories in 16 hours of riding. It is impossible, whilst riding, to replace that energy using conventional food (unless you plan to carry a portable toilet with you for the moment you stomach rebels...). I rely on liquid nutrition using products from Hammer Nutrition. Absolutely avoid simple sugar products like Powerade and Gatorade. Hammer has an excellent education series that deals with human physiology and nutrition when the body is under stress. It’s worth reading because most people never complete long rides due to “hitting the wall” - when the body is no longer able to supply the energy required by the muscles.
      • Before the ride: No breakfast. When you wake up your liver is loaded with all the glycogen you need for the first few hours of activity. Eating breakfast may actually harm glycogen availability to your system if you’re planning an early start.
      • Rest of ride: Perpetuem sports drink. I consume about 16-21 ounces of Perpetuem mixed with water per hour. Depending on conditions, especially if it’s hot or a feel that I’m flagging, I’ll boost the mixture. I typically use less than the recommended quantity per mix because it causes bloating. TEST YOUR TOLERANCE BEFORE YOU RIDE.
      • End of the ride: Immediately at the completion of a long stage, I use Recoverite to get my body ready for the next day’s riding.
      • Carbo loading?: I eat a regular evening meal between stages. Carbo loading is more myth than fact so don’t go crazy on the pasta and potatoes. Your body will recharge adequately with regular food. Avoid rich, fatty and sugary products though.