Steve Hargis completes Katy Trail on bicycle
When Steve Hargis, City of Rolla's director of public works, found out that he had a handful of vacation days left to "burn" before year's end, he knew what he wanted to do ... bike ride the Katy Trail from start to finish.
It was the latest chapter in the 60-year-old's journey toward a healthier lifestyle.
"I had a lot of health issues," Hargis said. "So over the last few years I have been trying to get in shape and lead a healthier life."
A year ago he took up bike riding. This past summer he completed his first triathlon.
His wife and biggest supporter, Traci Hargis, told the Daily News that she wasn't sure what to make of her husband's latest brainstorm.
"I wasn't surprised," she said. "I knew it was ambitious, but I knew he could do it. "
Katy Trail State Park is built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad (better known as the Katy). It provides a scenic hiking and biking trail of more than 200 miles across Missouri.
Traci dropped her husband off in Clinton in Henry County and four days later picked him up in Machens in St Charles County.
Steve couldn't say enough about the 240 miles he spent on the trail.
"It is one heck of a facility. The state should be proud of this park," he said. "It is very easy to ride and well marked and well maintained."
He learned quite a bit of railroad history as he traveled from town to town and saw a lot wildlife along the way.
When the two met at Machens, Traci said Steve pointed out that she would need to drive back home to Rolla as he would be too tired.
"However, he wouldn't stop talking," she said. "He was like a kid in a candy story telling me everything he experienced on the trail."
Her hope is that this trip is not about another older man on a long-distance bike ride but rather his story of determination to better himself will inspire others.
"I think he is an inspiration to all as he decided to be healthy a few years ago and he hasn't looked back," she said.
Will Steve make the Katy Trail an annual bike ride?
"I plan on going back for sure. Maybe next summer I will go for the whole trail in two days."