05 September 2008

Bits and Pieces, Random Facts and Photos

A few pictures from my 3-day trip. And some boring trivia to boot.
I find myself slipping into my adult children's post-modernism, with a weakening ability to tell a coherent sequential narrative. And a bike trip is nothing if not sequential, and dangerous if not coherent. But maybe the enjoyment of it is dependent upon neither adjective.

Day One
Here I am, ready to roll. I have gone several summers without a trip.
This is the right thing to do with my life ...

Route: Illinois Prairie Path from my intersection, Elgin Branch to the Fox River. Fox River Trail north through Elgin.

I have wondered about this structure for all the years I've ridden the Fox River Trail. It is on the north side of Elgin, along the river. Someone has spruced it up. If only the rest of the property supported the fantasy of this tower!

Route: continuing up the FRT into McHenry County, the trail progresses without interruption through Dundee and Carpentersville into Algonquin.

Crossing the river in Algonquin, IL. This has been the turn-around point on my annual Easter Monday solo half-century. For years, the day after Easter was my first long ride of the season. This is 25 miles from my house.

The trail goes through Crystal Lake, McHenry, and on to Richmond. IL Rte 173 west into Hebron. Bigelow Ave. in Hebron is Hebron Rd, west to Gasch and then State Line Rd. I turned south on Capron Rd. into the town of Capron where I picked up the Long Prairie Trail, nicely paved into Caledonia. Main Street Caledonia to Caledonia Rd., Kelley, Main, Argyle=Harlem to the entrance of Rock Cut State Park.

My campsite at Rock Cut State Park. What? There was nothing worth photographing, no photo ops, for 75 miles?

The view from my tent. When I arrived, all the spaces across the road were occupied. When a light rain began, they all packed up and left. Curious.

Day Two

The route: Leaving the Park on Willow Creek Trail takes one to Harlem High School at Gladys St. Continue west to Crystal, Frontage Rd (rte 251), Roosevelt/Machesney, Victory and pick up the Bauer Parkway Trail and bridge over the Rock River.

The path through Rockford provides several crossings of the Rock River. This is a classic Jeremy Taylor shot: the Trek 520, on a bridge, above a river. You can tell it's not Jeremy's bike, due to the lack of front panniers.
I didn't know there is a toll bridge in Rockford; happily the bike route is free!

Continuing on the Trail to the Sportcore, the Rock River Recreational Path winds through a large park, along the Rock and up to street level at Riverside Bridge.

I should have stopped to take a picture of this bridge while I was on it (a la Jeremy), if only to better show how beautiful it was. Nice wide planked crossing with beautiful large flower baskets. This shot is looking back at it. Too late to do it justice, though maybe in full sun it would have been splendid.

I finally managed to navigate downtown (confession: the cue sheets are clearer about this section than I gave them credit for. Having now ridden it, I see what they mean. But at the time, I just wasn't getting it.)
The Guardians of Rockford. An awesome public sculpture, and maybe the coolest thing I saw - man made or natural - on the entire trip. Sure, some would have stopped to take pictures from various angles, etc. ...

Through western Rockford via Winnebago St. bridge and Cunningham St = Cunningham Rd.
For future reference, don't even bother trying to find the trailhead to ...
the now-infamous Pecatonica Path - my first view of it. Or rather, the first time I saw it and knew what it was. I may have seen its trailhead, a small field of mown grass leading to what looks like a deer path. According to the GIT cue sheets, that really must have been the trailhead. This is the first road crossing to the west. It's pretty cool, but definitely not for a touring bike, with or without gear. Single track, I'll grant that. The most amazing part of the short ride? (I was still so stubborn about the cue sheets that I thought, well maybe it will get better. Duh.) The most amazing part was the vast number of finches that scared up as I went about 100 yards down here. I love goldfinches - they are my "good cycling omen" bird (don't tell my theolgian friends I said that) . And when I got back to the road I was covered in pollen. That was interesting, too.

The route was aided by the excellent Illinois DOT bike maps, which guided me to and through Winnebago and Pecatonica and on into Freeport. South out of Freeport on Baileyville Rd., east on whatever is the name of the road that intersects at the town of Baileyville.

I don't know what town these stacks are in. At this point I am south and east of Freeport, the sun is shining. The wind (unseen but not unknown) is evidenced in the plumes. My caption on the photo, "this can't be good." Here I am finally headed east, on the road that intersects Baileyville Rd. at Baileyville. But before Co Rd 9 into Leaf River, toward Oregon. The next day, between Oregon and Sycamore, I would see these behemoths again. Yeah, I agree. I'd rather see the Rock Guardians.

Day Three
My campsite in Lowden State Park, Oregon. This trip, not such scenic campsites. Now, if this were a video clip with audio, it would be much more telling.

Route home: Daisyville Rd to Brick Road. Brick has a steep climb up away from the river, and rolls eastward for quite a way.

And it really IS a Brick Road. Or at least, it used to be. In this section, they have maintained, preserved, or restored the brick in homage to the past. I don't know, maybe the county was tired of answering the question. But it is pretty cool. I noticed that here cars heading west into the intersection experience this stretch of brick as a rumble strip. A little kinder and gentler than the usual.

Brick to Co Rd 4 past Payne's Point to Lindenwood Rd. Lindenwood stretches even longer eastward. I was on it a long, long time, when I saw a cyclist in my mirror. It was inevitable that this unencumbered rider was going to overtake me. But hey, I was the one having fun today! We greeted each other as he passed, then I read his jersey "don't mess with Texas" - and again I missed riding with my friend Tom.

A quick connect on Esmond to Old State Rd on to IL Rte 64, good old North Avenue, and I was in Sycamore. Practically home! But not before a stop at Elleson's. Mmmm, donuts. Elleson's is a destination in its own right.

The eastern edge of Sycamore is the western terminus of the Great Western Trail, east 18 miles to St. Charles at Leroy Oakes Park. Through town to the Fox River Trail, south to the Geneva Spur into West Chicago. 3 options to home from there, I chose to ride past Wheaton Academy on Hawthorne, Indian Knoll to Geneva Rd., and ...


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