Most cyclists are content with pedaling the 240-mile Katy Trail over the course of four or five days, maybe a week.
Not 30-year-old Lauren Pointer. The Columbia resident became the first woman on record to ride the whole trail in one day last summer. On May 30, the University of Missouri professional rode across the state from Clinton to Machens in an elapsed time of 18 hours, 36 minutes. Her average speed was 16.1 mph over a moving time of 14 hours, 51 minutes.
“I started biking when I was 15 and was always up and down the Katy because our house was right there. I knew I wanted to do the whole thing at some point, probably over a few days,” said Pointer, who rides for Big Tree Cycling in Columbia and Momentum Cycles in St. Charles County.
But when the DK200 endurance gravel race was canceled in 2020, she decided to put her training to use.
“I’d trained for all this distance,” she said. “One day while riding the Katy, I said to myself, ‘If I can do 200 miles in the Flint Hills of Kansas with 10,000 feet of elevation, I should be able to muscle through an extra 40 miles with an almost flat elevation profile.”
Pointer started at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning with the goal of keeping her average speed above 14 mph. She rode mostly by herself — “alone with my thoughts” — talking and singing out loud once her music speaker ran out of power.
“It was the perfect weather day: mid to high 70s, sunny, no wind,” she said. “I was a little worried about flooding because the river had been high, and I did have to take detours in Sedalia and Rocheport and Portland, but overall, everything went OK.”
Her mother, Karren Ramer, provided support along the way, meeting her at most trailheads, so Pointer could change her kit and eat some “real food” (on the bike she subsisted mostly on gels and waffles).
“I didn’t need to stop at all the trailheads, but she’s a mom, you know?” said Pointer.
She was happy to see her Momentum teammate, Jeremy Powers, as she neared Matson. They rode together for about 14 miles.
“There was some major pep talking going on,” Pointer said.
Her father, Kevin Ramer, picked her up at the trail’s eastern terminus in Machens and drove her to the family’s house in O’Fallon, Missouri.
“I couldn’t get out of the car for a couple of minutes. My legs were stuck,” Pointer said. “I can’t remember if I ate or not. All I wanted was a shower and bed. My mom was crying and hugging me, and I was like, ‘Mom, I need to go to sleep.’”
It wasn’t until after her ride when she started looking on the BikeKatyTrail website that she realized she might be the only woman on record to have completed the Katy in one day.
“It was a pleasant surprise. It really hadn’t occurred to me that there were no other women on the [Katy Trail One Day Riders] list,” Pointer said. “I’m stoked. So many people have come up to me and said, ‘You’re the one who did the whole Katy in a day!’ And I say, ‘Yes, I am!’ I didn’t know it would be that big of a deal, but I guess it is.”
All in a day’s work for Pointer and her trusty Trek Checkpoint SL7.
Author Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.