Jenn Bradshaw completes first official full ride of Butterfield Stage Experience route--254 miles across Missouri

It wasn't much more than a year ago when the Butterfield Stage Experience was just a glimmer of an idea mentioned in a regional trails planning meeting. 

Jenn Bradshaw and the historic Butterfield Stage Experience first ride
Jenn Bradshaw and the historic Butterfield Stage Experience first ride

This spring, when the idea the routes starting coming together--to link 8 Missouri counties and over a dozen communities via a gravel bicycle route following the historic route--and those of us planning the route go so excited about it that we were driving ourselves and our bikes across the state just to try out one segment or another and make sure it really worked, we realized we had the first 250 miles of the route ready to go.  

Why not release it and let people start to ride it and and enjoy it.

So we did.

But up until now, no one has ridden the entire 254 miles of the Butterfield Stage Experience, completely and end to end.

Now Warsaw cyclist Jenn Bradshaw has become the first--of many, we hope!--to ride the complete route.

Here is her story:

Jenn Bradshaw's Butterfield Story--the first of many

Jenn Bradshaw August 28 

To know you must do. 254 miles of adventure awaits ????.

Jenn's Butterfield Stage ride - anticipating the 254 miles

Chase Crawford August 30

Jenn Bradshaw will be pedalling the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route that travels through Wheatland!!! Realize it or not, this is a very cool thing for our area and a great opportunity to tie local history and ecotourism into a nice little bow for our community! Wheatland will be the end of her second leg of the 200+ mile journey from Springfield to Jefferson City on the Butterfield. Best of luck Jenn, you’re a rock star!!

 
Steve Hewitt August 31 

Good luck Jenn Bradshaw as you take on the adventure of the Butterfield Stage Experience and showing fellow cyclists what Missouri holds as truly amazing riding opportunities. Have fun and enjoy the 254 mike experience.

Good luck, Jenn!

 
Jenn Bradshaw September 2

Day 1 of the Butterfield Stage Experience was Springfield to Bolivar and Bolivar to Wheatland. It rained. All day. I flatted 6.5 miles in, right in front of the Willard Bike Shop. Thank you for the help Cari Harrison!!

Got to say, Trek makes awesome bikes. My Superfly was caked with nasty wet gravel muck, and never failed to perform. The rain was tough, but things happen when you need them to that lift your spirits. I saw a calf get born! A big brown jolly dog ran with me for a mile or so, and his cheerful spirit I will always be thankful to have encountered.

I arrived in Wheatland filthy, hungry, and wet to the bone. Thankfully the Trail Angel Mary Clements picked me up, took me into her home, fed me and housed me for the night. Got to start the next leg of the journey rested and fueled. I was never in this alone.

 

  Day 1 photos  

Jenn Bradshaw September 3

Day 2 of the Butterfield Stage Experience was Wheatland to Warsaw, then Warsaw to Cole Camp. I left with a full belly and that turned out to be good, as there are no services until R-Corner, just south of Warsaw. Hickory County has hills, I can see how an E-bike would make this more accessible. There are also dogs! Friendly trail dogs that just want to have fun.

 


The Ride with GPS app, with the routes developed by Missouri Bike and Pedestrian Federation's Brent Hugh, worked perfectly. I did recognize part of the route from the Pomme de Tour 108 gravel race, especially the creek crossing on the Lucas Ranch.

 


Riding to the stone in Warsaw, people cheered for me from the deck of The Landing! Plus I got invited for lunch, and Cameron Kelly and Jaime Lux took great care of me before heading on to Cole Camp.

 

   Day 2 photos  

 
Jenn Bradshaw September 4 at 10:02 AM

Day 3 of the Butterfield Experience: Cole Camp to Tipton and Tipton to Jefferson City. 87 miles, I didn't want it to end! Crossing county lines on a bicycle is an exuberance you just don't get while driving, especially when greeted by friendly dogs.


The Tipton Stone is snug against the wall of City Hall, and I ate a bunch of lunch there before pedaling off on the last leg.


About 16 miles outside of Jeff City, the route took me downhill for about a mile and a half to a low water crossing. Swift deep water to wade through, and a huge tree blocking the way on the other side! No way was I going back.


I made it across the water, only losing a snack when the water shoved my bike sideways, and wrestled the Trek over, under, and around the downed tree. Onward to Jeff City!


After being alone on back country roads for 250 miles, Jeff City was a bit of a culture shock. Cars! Traffic lights! Roundabouts and road closures are different challenges than tall hills and wet gravel.


I finally made it up and around the Capitol building, where my friend Mac Vorce waited for me, making a video of course!


With the vision of a regional trails system, collaboration and partnerships between Kaysinger Basin Rpc, Missouri Bike and Pedestrian Federation, Chambers of Commerce, and the support of Trek Bikes, the Butterfield Stage Experience has re-established community connections and brought the history of the Butterfield back to life!

 

Day 3

 

Butterfield Stage Experience Facebook Page

Jenn Bradshaw making history! The first to complete the route from Springfield to Jefferson City! Congratulations!! 

 

Jenn updated her profile picture:

Jenn changes her profile photo . . .

 

And, again:

And . . . changes it again.

Some of those water crossings are, indeed, pretty wicked . . . 

 

Jenn discussing her ride with Mac Vorce on Warsaw TV:

Jenn & Mac Vorce on Warsaw TV talking about the ride

See the Warsaw TV episode by visiting the Warsaw TV web page and looking up Sept 6, 2019 "What's Up Warsaw" (2nd half of episode) 

 

Make your own Butterfield Stage history . . . 

You can make history, too--254 amazing miles along the historic Butterfield Stage Route in Missouri, ready to ride and enjoy.  You can spend an hour, a day, or a week:

Upcoming Butterfield events

Upcoming (and recent) events on the Butterfield route:

The Butterfield project really is bringing communities together--all up and down the route.  Your MoBikeFed membership and generous financial support have been a big part of making that a reality!

Thank you!