7.5 miles along the trail.
9.7 miles from trail to home.
25.4 miles total, in about 3 hours.
This time I biked directly to and down the trail, without a break before hitting the trail. This was probably a mistake. For one, my drink ran out about 3.5 miles down the trail, when I wanted to do four or five miles. For another SO HOT. It was hot last Friday, too, but I think the air-conditioned breaks I took helped substantially in making the overall trip more tolerable.
I went south this time, passing the 12th mile marker almost immediately, then 13 and 14. And then I never saw 15, although I went about 1.5 miles past 14. After a bit over a mile or so past the 14th, the trail went from a broad flat trail with some gravel on it to a dirt track the width of a bicycle tire, bordered by knee-high weeds. I figured at this point that I must have missed a turnoff onto the trail proper somewhere, but kept going for half a mile or so out of curiosity. The dirt track was very rutted and occasionally had two or three different tire-width tracks running in parallel or criss-crossing each other: it obviously saw enough use to remain marked, but it was pretty awful for riding. After I reached a little stand of trees and saw that the not-really-a-trail continued in the sun on the other side, I took a break in the shade for a few minutes to cool off, then headed back. The only fork I found in the trail on the way back led up to a road and had a gate blocking it (presumably to keep cars from accidentally turning down the trail.) There was no sign of a bike trail continuing alongside or opposite the road. So still not sure what happened to the trail. Maybe what I hit was the trail and it's just reeeeeeeally badly maintained for that section? I met a couple of other bikers at the fork who were just as confused and new to this part of the trail as I was, so enlightenment did not come.
After about 2 hours of biking, I made it to Panera, having decided to stick with my victory bagel-and-frozen-mocha instead of going for ice cream. Mostly because I wanted something akin to food with nutritional value. Not really because the ice cream shop was another mile north and in the opposite direction from home. I collapsed into one of the comfy chairs, feeling vaguely guilty for being sweaty and dirty and suntan-oiled on their helpless furniture, drank a lot of water, ate my bagel, and did some writing -- about six hundred words. Eventually I finished my frozen mocha and decided I should head home.
The route home was longer because I took a detour to go to Hobby Lobby and get frames for some of the unframed art I still have lying around. The Hobby Lobby is in the shopping plaza directly across the highway from Panera. After I took a shortcut across the lawn to get back to the road, it was about a mile from Panera to Hobby Lobby.
There is a lot of access road into that little shopping plaza. I am just saying. I assume it's because the Bass Pro Shop wanted a park-type area around them, and they're the only other store in the immediate vicinity.
I picked out a bunch of frames to go with various art, until I decided I was in danger of not being able to fit them all in the bike basket and stopped getting more. (I actually got the store to give me a measuring tape so I could check that everything would fit before I bought them.) I ended up securing the bags down with a bungee cord to be on the safe side, since the packages were much taller than the basket.
Then I took the scenic route out of Hobby Lobby, which chopped a mile or two off of the distance I had to spend on 40 Highway. I think there must be a trail entrance somewhere closer than the Independence Events Center, because it curved back west a ways along the south route; I should poke around at Google and see if I can find a quicker way on, because biking 8 miles just to get to the trail is a bit much.
At home, I actually put all the pictures in the new frames (except one frame which turned out not to fit the intended pic) and hung half of them. Progress! Hopefully I'll get the rest up tomorrow. I need to figure out where to put them. I am being pretty haphazard in where I hang art at this point, because I just want it ON WALLS and not occupying storage/table/floor space.