SALISBURY — William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame may have gone up in a rocket for his 90th birthday, but Noble Richards pedaled into his 91st year.
The resident of Noble Horizons recently biked 188 miles of the Katy Trail State Park across Missouri.
Knowing their dad was a lifelong cyclist, Richards’ three sons arranged the trip through the Road Scholar program.
“This was a special celebration for our father,” said his oldest son, Tim, who lives in Washington, D.C. “He’s always loved biking and this made us feel good to do it for him. We’re so glad we could make it work.”
The 240-mile Katy Trail is the longest developed rail-trail in the country. It was built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT or Katy), and runs between Clinton and Machens, boasting four restored railroad depots along the way. The section between Cooper and St. Charles counties has been designated an official segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Richards said the trail, which is composed of limestone gravel, was pretty compacted and quite level. It mainly abuts the Missouri River. He and his group traveled from Sedalia to St Charles. One day they rode 54 miles.
“The scenery, to me, was amazing,” Richards said. “Often to our left was a shear cut-down and you could see layers of animals in the limestone. To the right was the river. Three of the five days we rode in rain, making it an extra challenge.”
Somewhat concerned about balance, Richards rode in a motorized tricycle. Tim Richards said there were times his father pedaled faster than anyone else in the group.
“Even though I pedaled, I did get some help,” Noble Richards said with a smile.
Also accompanying him on the ride was his son, Cricket Richards. His third son, Andy, had work commitments. Tim Richards’ wife, Meg Clark, and her three sisters and husbands also joined him, as did some friends.
As part of the trip, the program offers lectures and concerts in the evenings. Clark and her sisters provided some of them.
Richards also took a day off to explore an area with a guide. He took a tour of the Capitol building in Jefferson City, where he was delighted to view murals in the Senate lounge painted by noted artist Thomas Hart Benton.
Richards continues to ride his bike throughout the local area, especially enjoying the Millerton Rail Trail in nearby New York.
Raised in South Kent, he attended South Kent School, earned a bachelor’s degree at Trinity College and a master’s from Wesleyan University.
Following his service in the Air Force, Richards returned to South Kent School for a career spanning 40 years, as both a math teacher and head of school. He visits daily with his wife, Elizabeth, who is a resident of the memory care unit at Noble Horizons.
by Ruth Epstein of The Republican American