Distance 75 miles (70 on my bike and 5 miles I hitched a ride), 12.5 mph average, ride time 5:34, actual time on road 8 hours and 45 minutes, expenses $63.99
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Its going to be another long day so was up and ready to leave at 6:30. I went to Jim’s room and he was up and waiting for me. We loaded most of my gear into his mini-van, thanked him and gave him a big hug for being there for me, mounted Spirit and shoved off. The first 8 miles took me onto busy US Hwy 151 leading into East Dubuque, Illinois. Even with the heavy traffic at high speed I felt relatively safe as there was a wide shoulder to ride. Riding Spirit today is quite different without a heavy load as she is quite agile and quick to respond to my every move but we quickly settled into a nice pace due to this first 8 miles being mostly downhill. The MRT route as outlined in Bob Robinson’s Guide has a number of turns to navigate as I got closer to the Illinois border and East Dubuque. Thought I would save myself a couple miles and a few turns by staying on US 151 that almost worked. Instead I managed to get myself confused as to exactly where I was. I waved down a passing pick-up and asked directions. The driver asked to see my guide and after a couple minutes he was able to figure out where I was going but warned me the route had lots of turns and I’d be in rush hour traffic. He said he was heading in that general direction and would be willing to give me a ride but first he needed to cross over to Dubuque, Iowa to gas up his vehicle as gasoline prices in Iowa are about $0.20 per gallon cheaper. Not to turn down a good thing I told Bill sure I’d be more than happy to take a ride. Bill and I had a good conversation during the next 45 minutes and we parted company as new friends. Bill had taken me to a small town on State Hwy 84 which provided an almost straight route south into Galena, Illinois.
Though this road was two lanes and had fast moving traffic all vehicles passed me at a safe distance.
Upon arriving in Galena, I rode down Main Street checking out stores and looking for a possible cafe to stop for a morning snack but didn’t see any that really stood out so continued on my way. Following the MRT Guide through Galena was excellent and I managed to make it through town without getting temporally confused (lost). What I didn’t like were all the hills. I had to ride roads with names like Rocky Hill, Diggin Hill, Girot Hill and Hanover Hill not good for this vertically challenged Old Guy. Two of the hills proved to be quite challenging in fact the second one, which I was later to find out was called Chestnut Mountain, proved to be too much for me and I had to dismount and walk Spirit the last quarter mile up this steep never ending hill or mountain. Fortunately for me once over this last big hill the route did begin to flatten out and Spirit and I were able to pick up the pace substantially. For awhile I thought today was going to be a repeat of yesterday with unending hills and I wondered about my sanity for wanting to ride the length of theMississippi. Just when I think I’ve reached my physical limit an inner strength pushes me forward and the roads become a little less challenging. Amazing!
Spirit and I arrived in the little community of Savanna about 12:30. Jim and I had discussed this would be our meeting town for the day and we’d all have lunch together. However due to my riding back roads and they riding SH 84 we had a confusion moment. Since they hadn’t seen me on the highway they assumed I had gone directly to Fulton, our overnight town and thus that is where they went. Julissa, Jim’s wife texted me telling me they were at Sunrise Restaurant waiting for me. I texted back I’d be there in a few minutes not knowing they were not in Savanna. In Savanna I stopped and asked a local how to get to the restaurant and rode to it but there was no Jim and family there. I once again stopped a local and asked if there might possibly be two Sunrise restaurant’s in town. She said no but there was another Sunrise in the next town South, Fulton. I phoned Julissa and asked if perhaps they were in Fulton and she confirmed they were. She was ever so apologetic and said they’d come back to meet me. I assured her there was no need, they should go ahead and eat lunch and I’d grab a bite to eat in Savanna and head their way. I asked Julissa to go ahead and set-up lodging for the night which she did.
Pleasant and amazing surprise! As I left Savanna my route took me onto one of the finest bicycle/ pedestrian trails ever The Great River Trail (GRT). The GRT is paved, quite smooth and mostly flat much of it running through Mississippi River wetlands with lots of wildlife and fauna to view even has pull outs for doing such. I was so impressed I had to stop at the Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center to tell them how great the trail is and that I’m very appreciative of being able to ride safe trails with so much to enjoy. The US-DNR representative told me the trail was a cooperative effort of the DNR, which she insisted only contributed a small part, and all the communities and State of Illinois working together to build. The GRT traverses 60 miles from Savanna to Rock Island, Illinois. Some portions of the trail still routes you through streets in a few sections of towns but has excellent signage making it easy to follow. Now this is bicycle riding Nirvana.
The ride from Savanna to Fulton was so pretty I slowed my pace stopped to take numerous pictures of the trail, sorry got carry away with condition of trail forgot to take pictures of the wetlands.
Finally arriving in Fulton I went directly to the Pine Motel to check in as they were holding their last room for me and I didn’t want them to think I wouldn’t be staying the night. After checking in and showering I phoned Jim as he had suggested he’d come to the Pine motel to pick me up and we’d go have dinner at the Sunrise Restaurant here in Fulton. At the Sunrise the evening special was fried chicken with salad and veggies, all you can eat for $8.95. When the waitress brought out the chicken the first serving was an entire half chicken and not a itsy bitsy chicken either as this was a full size chicken rivialing a young turkey in size. Julissa and I had the chicken but I was the only one able to finish off the entire half chicken which was delicious. My licks are smacking together and mouth watering just thinking of how good this meal was. After dinner Jim and I took the girls back to their motel where the girls could have an evening swim. Jim and I then went down to the riverfront to view the Dutch Windmill. This Windmill was manufactured in the Netherlands and shipped to and reassembled by the folks here in Fulton as a tribute to their Dutch Heritage. The windmill was closed for the day as was the cultural center across the street. I learned the next day from Jim as he and the family did the tour the windmill is actually a working one. The windmill is set-up to grind various grains and at various coarseness. Jim and Julissa bought a bag of whole grain wheat ground fine to cook with when they return home.
I’m thankful for Jim and his family coming to my rescue to serve as SAG for me. This turned out to be a very good day, minus the section with the hills of course.