Touring - Ill Mississippi River Trail
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05-19-08, 04:51 PM
A friend and I (both 63) recently finished the west coast of Illinois from the Wisconsin border following the Ill League of Bicyclists cue sheets for the MRT to the southern tip (Cairo, IL) at confluence of Ohio and Mississippi River. We rode 650 miles even though the direct route was listed at 585. The cue sheets available printed or in pdf files were great and we had no problems staying with the route, quiet roads, and paths when possible and with minimal heavy traffic, narrow shoulder white knuckle segments. We decided we didn't like furniture trucks or short haul coal or gravel trucks because they drove like the got paid by the trip and not by the day. The entire route was great, small towns, expanses of riparian forests, flood plains and rock bluffs. Our trip from 26 April through 7 May included some major winds,and cool weather but minimal rain and hence only enough discomfort to afford bragging rights to two old guys out having fun. Flooding rerouted us a few time (especially in Quad cities, near Keithsburg, and short segments in other areas. One matron in a small town coffee clatch remarked to her friends that she thought it was "Great that someone as old as he is can still ride a bike" So we made her day. Anyone wanting more details is welcome to write directly via PM. tom
05-19-08, 05:09 PM
The cue sheets available printed or in pdf files were great and we had no problems staying with the route, quiet roads, and paths when possible and with minimal heavy traffic, narrow shoulder white knuckle segments.
Tom, do you happen to have a direct link to the cue sheet that you will post here?
05-19-08, 05:43 PM
05-19-08, 08:24 PM
Dellphinius, Thanks, you took the link right out of my "mouth". Perhaps obvious to everyone, the printed version is on real paper with real ink whereas the version I printed using my home printer from the pdf file tended to smear, run, smudge, and self destruct when rain or moisture hit it. I thought the loose sheets would work best in my plastic log sheet, but I would have been much better off destroying one of the hard copy versions. Cheers, tom
05-20-08, 02:05 PM
Didja see the monument to Norma Jean the Elephant in Oquawka? The Popeye statue in Chester? I toured the same area last year.
05-21-08, 09:21 AM
We gave the monument to Norma Jean the circus elephant the pass as we had other things on our mind. Because of flood threats (they were sand bagging Keithsburg the day before), and we were already fighting 30-35 mph winds and off/on sleet pellets. We had to back track 14 miles from New Boston to Aledo for lodging due to Keithsburg flood status. Hence we had a longer ride slated for the next day as we passed through Oquakwa and on to Nauvoo. Aledo was a great alternative lodging site - funky hometown motel with the proprietress sending us down the street to her nephews bar/restaurant. Before we knew it we were favorites of the bar with free caps for riding the farthest and persisting to arrive on an otherwise nasty day. Anyway we trusted the circus elephant monument to be there without our paying homage. We did stop in Alton for the worlds tallest man (8' 11") and other highlights. One spectacular decision was to cross to the MO side on the chain of rock bridge across the Miss. River. It is totally cycle and pedestrians with picnic tables, old fire engines and other distractions in the middle of the bridge. We followed the riverview bike path south on the St. Louis side to the Eades Bridge where we re-crossed to IL and proceeded s to Milan. Note: Milan's local motel is no longer extant so one has to ride a few miles further east to the airport area where a couple of national chains and some eateries exist.
Popeye at Chester justified a photographic session. What was best were the small towns and nice people.
Its a real privilege to have a sandwhich hand-made in a grocery store, not by the deli lady but by the real butcher person. Want that with white bread and mustard, no problem - we have this big jar of mustard and another of mayo if thats your style. tom
05-21-08, 10:25 AM
Thanks for the link.
05-21-08, 06:13 PM
What was best were the small towns and nice people.
Absolutely. Love the small towns along the way. When I rolled through Baldwin, I stopped to get a bite at a local eatery. It began to storm so the lady that ran the place told me to bring my bike inside the restaurant so it wouldn't get wet. Bless her heart. I did the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Hotel Nauvoo and certainly got my money's worth. The Chain of Rocks Bridge is incredible and what a great way for cyclists to cross the Mississippi. Standing on it, it's hard to imagine it once carried the traffic of the famous Route 66. You may have seen the Lewis and Clark Museum, also. That was one of my favorites along the way. But then again, I'm a huge Lewis and Clark fan so I may be biased.
The bottom line, though, were the many friendly small towns along the route. One of my most favorite aspects of bike touring is sitting down in the local small town cafe and ordering the special from a waitress that calls me "hon."
I love the Nauvoo Hotel. Good eats.
You were 1/2 mile from my house when you went through Calhoun Co..
05-22-08, 12:04 AM
Norma Jean was a wonderful bedroom memory for me as a pubescent.....
Okay, cut the wise-assed remarks. I had a Norma that I loved once. In high school. And yes, I remember Norma Jean, and the tragedy that was her life. But she died in a very nice spot. You'll just have to trust me on that. In fact, I wouldn't mind being a few hundred yards west, which would give you a primo view of the Old Man.
I'm a busted-up old man that would totally dig on this trip, but I don't think my health would allow me to do it non-stop. Would gladly pitch in for expenses and a ride on a somewhat reliable support vehicle if anyone wants to respond. Heck, I'd respond to me if I was me. I sound like the kind of person that would make excellent Margaritas and coffee. I really can't see what else a person would need on a tour of the Mississippi.
05-22-08, 10:10 AM
I know everyone is wondering what kind of wildlife shows up as casualties on the roads so the following informal tabulation is of all identifiable DORs (dead on road animals) noted during our trip. We did not tabulate dead on road plant material although one particularly aggressive stick did launch itself and attack the front wheel of my riding partner. The plastic fender was pretzeled but resurrected itself with a bit of encouragement and finished the route in good shape. FYI. Tom
Summary of Dead on Road Animals seen on Ill MRT route when traveled by bicycle 26 April – 7 May 2008.
Opossums – 26
Raccoons – 13
Fox Squirrels – 7
Skunks – 4
Rabbits – 4
Dogs – 2
Cats – 2
Flying Squirrel – 1
Muskrat – 1
Beaver – 1
Red Fox – 1
Marmot – 1
Rat – 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrows – 5
Cardinals – 3
Robins – 2
Blackbird - 2
Purple Martins – 2
Cliff Swallow – 1
Wild Turkey – 1
Red Tail Hawk – 1
Turkey Vulture – 1
Unknown Yellow Bird – 1
Unknown bird – 1
Red Eared Sliders – 20 (mostly hatchlings that had overwintered in nest?)
Box Turtle – 1
Painted Turtle – 1
Snapping Turtle –1
Garter Snake 1
Blue Racer – 1
Unidentified Snake –1
Cricket Frogs – 2
Bullfrogs – 3
Unknown Protoplasm - 1
05-22-08, 12:45 PM
Somebody must have been bored on their ride. :D
Ain't no marmots in Illinois. What you saw was a groundhog.
05-23-08, 10:37 AM
My apologies to sknhgy. I allowed my zoological background to contaminate my names. The scientific name for ground hogs is Marmota monax. All members of the genus Marmota are technically marmots, but some use the term marmot in their common names and others like the woodchuck, groundhog, or less frequently common marmot do so only erradically. Bored I was not: I'm a retired zoologist and observing/counting animals are things I've been doing all my life. I think its important to note the things that cyclists see that those hurling along at 70 mph miss. Cheers, tom
Actually I do the same thing with animals except my observations are more informal and I don't always know the names - as you have pointed out.
I snuck up on a bobcat during a snowstorm this winter while riding and we watched each other from about 50 feet for about a minute before I gave it the peace sign and it took off.
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