Offers AC, Cool Drinks, Restrooms and More

By Karen Cernich Dickhut

The Peers Store can be a mirage of sorts for cyclists putting in long miles on the Katy Trail, especially on hot, 100-plus degree days. Eva and Bret Ulery of Columbia and Eva’s brother, Mark Fleckenstein of Iowa City, Iowa, who rode 100 miles in a single day last month, were overjoyed to stop at Peers for some respite in the form of air conditioning and cold drinks. (The store also stocks ice cream, snacks, art and lots of gift ideas.)

The Ulerys ride the Katy Trail about once a week, usually between 25 and 50 miles, but they go for longer rides in the summer. Last year they rode from Sedalia to Columbia, about half the length of the full trail. They are both educators — she is a clinical instructor and he is a high school math teacher — and it’s easier to find the time to get away in summer.

Peers Store is an amazing find on the trail, Eva said. “All of the trailheads on the Katy are really nice, sometimes they have water, but they don’t usually have a store like Peers.”

During the season, Peers Store is open six days a weeks, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., with live music played on the porch from noon to 3 p.m. from May through October. The store is closed on Wednesdays.

“We try to get to the trail when it’s not 100-plus degrees, but it’s hard to get all of the schedules to line up,” Eva said. “The camaraderie is fun. We don’t get to hang out like this without our cell phones a whole lot, and the food always tastes better.”

Last month on their ride, the trio rode from McBaine to Marthasville, ending at the KT Caboose. They made stops along the way, usually for functional necessity. After experiences on bicycle trails in the Chicago suburbs, where Bret grew up, and in Iowa, where Eva grew up, they appreciate the design of the Katy Trail — the crushed limestone pathway that is through mostly rural, quiet settings, instead of on country roads and back highways, and how so much of the Katy is covered by tree canopy.

“It makes for a really pleasant ride,” Eva said.

One of the best parts of riding the Katy Trail is getting to observe the wildlife as you ride. The Ulerys and Fleckenstein saw many birds and hawks, lizards, box turtles and at least one woodchuck, but fortunately, they had not seen any snakes — yet.

But even better than the variety of wildlife seen on the trail are the fellow trail-riders you meet along the way, Bret said. Peers Store is a great gathering place for cyclists and trail-users and trail-lovers, especially on weekends when live music is being played on the porch.

You’ll find Peers Store at mile marker 80.1 on the Katy Trail or 16011 Concord Hill Road, Marthasville, MO 63057 on a map.