Friday, August 30, 2013

Grand Illinois Trail

Sorry for the delay....

My posts each night during my ride of the GIT were short because i have a 'dumb' phone and the only way to post to this blog is to send a short text message. Add to that the fact that i use T-Mobile, which could be the worst service provider in the world. In all but one campground i had no reception with my phone; in the one exception it was one bar. Once you are out of any urban area, or anywhere near a rural area, T-Mobile reception seems to not exist.

But, in any case, after my last post and one last day to ride back home from West Dundee, i ended with 9 days on the road and 460 miles pedaled. It was wonderful. The hills in northwest Illinois ate me up and spit me out, much like the hills did in Missouri a couple of years ago, but for the most part i was able to ride the majority of them.

A few pictures of the wonderfullness i found:

I was very lucky in that the week i rode it was abnormally cool for mid- to late-August. The days were typically in the upper 70's and lower 80's, almost perfect riding weather. The downside of this, though, was that it was also colder than normal at night. With nightly temperatures dropping into the low 50's, and a few in the upper 40's, i regretted not bringing a sleeping bag. I gambled that, given the time of year, it would be warm enough that a light blanket and a silk sleeping bag liner would be enough. And i lost that bet. I ended up sleeping in every piece of clothing i had, including my had, and including my rain pants and rain coat, with the hood pulled over the cap. Typically this was enough to get me through the nights, but on the nights in the 40's, i woke up several time in the very early morning. Oh well.... this wasn't a big enough issue to overcome the great riding weather during the days.

In the end, i didn't ride the entire GIT. Instead i rode a modified version for about half the trip. I rode the normal trail for the first two days and found out that while riding packed limestone paths is OK when it is only 40 miles, you end up back home that same night, and you don't have to ride again the next day, riding on then all day, 70 miles one day, and doing it again the next day, isn't my cup of tea.

So, on day 2, i skipped an entire section of the trail when the guide, and locals at a McDonalds i stopped at, said that i was going to have to ride through gravel — not packed limestone, gravel. Instead i headed out to the local two lane highway and headed straight west.

Then after a night in Le-Aqua-Na State Park on day 6, i cut an entire swing to the north off and rode due west towards Rockford. I don't know what the Jane Adams Trail is like up there, but i didn't want to find out as i had a 60+ mile day to ride that day. From Rockford, i skipped another ride to the north and headed due east to Crystal Lake, before turning south and starting the swing back towards home.

I guess what i found out is that while i love touring, for me that means i want to stay on asphalt throughout the day.

The I&M Canal Trail was in terrible shape during day 2. Two bridges were completely washed out and a third was marked as closed for repairs, but a local told me they hadn't started yet so if i ignored the signs i'd make it across — which i did. Here's an example of where one bridge had stood and what it looks like now, and what they used to replace it until further repairs are made.

Oh, if you live in the US, you know of that company called Sears, Roebuck, & Co. This may be the oldest store in the chain.

A couple of pictures of a typical campsite with the local restaurant i visited each night.

My back tire is now as bald and smooth as a baby's behind and the bike is locked in the garage until i can buy two new tires after the first of the month.

1 comment:

Cheenu said...

Did you camp in a camp ground for every night, in general how did camping location work out.
Any pointers and tips appreciated.
This would be my first bike tour, and am planning on this route.