Pleasant, Peculiar, and an Almost-Century

With rain in the forecast for the next week, I got away for a long ride, from my home hear Spring Hill, Kansas to Pleasant Hill, Missouri and back, via Peculiar, Missouri.

It was a cool but sunny day, starting off in the 50’s and ending up about 65°F, with a light wind out of the east. Quite pleasant, indeed!

The easterly wind is rather unusual here (it’s usually out of the south or west), so I took this opportunity to explore some new territory in Missouri. I’d never been to Pleasant Hill, but had heard that it was a nice little town that was looking forward to seeing the Katy Trail come through town.

The first 20 miles of the route were on familiar paved roads, and not much of note. After that, the gravel ratio picked up a notch. Ran into a few miles of freshly-graded road just west of Pleasant Hill, and that was a little frustrating, but was over soon enough.

Here was my first sight on entering Pleasant Hill, the future path of the Katy Trail. The Katy currently ends in Clinton, MO, but a new extension is being built from Pleasant Hill to Windsor (just north of Clinton). One of the reasons I wanted to visit Pleasant Hill was to see if any progress was visible. Obviously not here.

Next I came to the old Pleasant Hill train depot. The building is in great shape, but appears to be empty (or at least nothing was open when I was there). Beautiful old structure, but this will not, as far as I can tell, be along the Katy Trail — the depot is on another, active, line.

These two signs tell the history of Pleasant Hill, from its beginnings in the 1820s, through a sad period during the Civil War when the surrounding countryside was razed, through its days as a railroad town.

The town has a very simple and elegant veterans memorial, made of extremely polished stone, and bearing quotes from George Washington, Admiral Nimitz, John F. Kennedy, and George W. Bush, so it must be fairly new.

You can see from this image that the wind was a little strange on this day. The flag in the background is slack, but one of the flags in the reflection is standing out straight, while the one next to it is drooping. Weird.

This is the museum in downtown Pleasant Hill, housed in a lovely stone building. It was closed, unfortunately.

There’s a mural on the side of the museum building that depicts scenes from the town’s history.

After getting some lunch, I headed out of town, when I came across this. I had my route mapped out, but didn’t know about this road closure. I decided to continue, in hopes that the road I was looking for, Sherwood, branched off before the closure.

And indeed, it did.

Just one problem — it, too, was closed, this time for “Bridge Out”. I briefly considered chancing it, but had no way of knowing how far away the bridge was, and whether the bridge was truly missing, or whether it was passable by bike. I decided not to chance it, so headed back out to the highway and took the next road to the east, headed south. One way or another, I figured, it would connect and get me home. And so it did.

Along the way, the road crossed this trail. I presume it was the future Katy extension, but it wasn’t marked, (other than by “No Trespassing” and “Closed for Construction” signs), so I’m not sure. But it’s in the right spot, so it must be. At this crossing, it looks pretty well complete. Not sure of the status of the rest of the route.

There were equipment and people at work going the other direction (behind me as I took this photo), but they were a ways down the trail, so I moved on.

After quite a few miles of gravel and lightly-trafficked paved back roads, I rolled into Peculiar. After purchasing a few overpriced snack items from the truck stop, I found this water tower, and arranged it, myself, and the bike just so.

Water towers don’t lie.

After Peculiar, I was on mostly familiar roads. This is the marker for the “Trail of Death“, the route used during the forced relocation of the Potawatomie people in 1838. This is located at 215th and State Line Road. on the Kansas side.

And nearby, another historical sign, this one stating that the Fort Leavenworth – Fort Scott Military Road crossed here.

I’d love to ride the Military Road route someday. There actually is an official route, the Frontier Military Scenic Byway, but that uses US-69 highway, which is not a bike-friendly, or at least not a very pleasant, route. I’d like to go by back roads.

Ultimately, I made it home with about 77 miles on the odometer. But the cyclocomputer had been flaking out for the last 30 miles — weak battery, I presume. My route map had been for 83 miles, but due to the detour, I knew I had more than that.

I considered going for the century, since I was so close, but how close was I? Was I at 85 miles? 95? No way of knowing for sure.

Once home, I retraced the route, and came up with 89.2 miles:

Oh well, there will be other days for the century.

It’s a blessing to know that I have the health and fitness to knock off a hundee anytime the opportunity arises. Though my legs were showing the fatigue by the end, everything else — hands, shoulders/neck, butt, energy level — was good. I certainly could have done another 10+.

Still, I ended up with an (estimated) 90 miles at an (estimated) speed of 13.5 MPH.

It was a very pleasant day, indeed!

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.


  1. Steve Butcher
    May 20, 2011

    What a nice ride. I always enjoy reading about your rides; especially those on the Missouri side because they are near where I grew up.

  2. May 20, 2011

    Thanks, Steve!

  3. Kate
    July 13, 2011

    Thanks for the interesting posts. Just moved from Florida to Southwest MO, found a bike in the barn and have been using it to get familiar with my beautiful new surroundings. I’ve been thinking about taking my adventures further out … with something a bit sturdier than the barn bike. Somehow I stumbled upon your site and now I’m even more eager to do so!

Comments are closed.