Overnight Trips

Great River Trail Ride 25 of 52


Date: July 6, 2017
Distance: 20 miles
Weather: Brutal heat, mid 90's.
Highlights of the trip: gorgeous piney campground on the banks of the Mississippi at Usace Thomson Causeway Recreation Area, Arnold's Bike Shop in Thomson, IL.

We picked the wrong day for this ride. We were planning to ride a 20 mile stretch of the 60-mile Great River Trail between the towns of Fulton & Savanna, Illinois. However, after the first few miles of nicely wooded, shaded path, the trail took us over vast, open expanse of prairie, crackling in midday sun. Thermometer readings may have been in the mid-90's, but with heat radiating off the exposed ground we felt like we were under a broiler. We began to look with anticipation for the smallest hint of shade offered by spindly trees and sparse sumac bushes.

At last we came to a beautiful evergreen woodland park with pine-scented shaded paths and a working water fountain. We used out bottles to generously douse ourselves with water from head to toe. This would be doable, we thought, prematurely, as it turned out. After a short run through the state park, the trail spit us out again onto the side of a flat, bare, straight, sun-baked road, with contours of a US Penitentiary shimmering on the horizon. Gamely, we headed on, but after a couple of blocks it became clear that continuing the journey as planned might actually put us in danger of heatstroke.

We decided to cut our loses and turned east into the small hamlet of Thomson, IL in search of light colored t-shirts, sunscreen and water. We were pleasantly surprised to find all three at Arnold's Bike Shop. Actually, we were even more surprised to find Arnold's Bikes Shop in the first place -- a tiny shop, tucked away in a tiny town, packed to the rafters with recumbent bikes and trikes! The owners gave us free tubes of sunscreen and a free t-shirt to cover up my sunburnt shoulders, and gave us directions to a nearby old school ice cream place.

On the way back to Fulton, we took a little extra time to explore the beautiful piney state park, and discovered a tiny, secluded campground directly on the bank of the Mississippi, pictured in the main photo.

We'll definitely be back. In cooler weather.

Cannon Valley Trail, MN Ride 24 of 52


Date: June 27, 2017
Distance: 40 miles
Weather: Sunny, mid 70's.
Highlights of the trip: spectacular scenery throughout the ride, beautifully maintained rest stops along the trail.

I wasn't too happy about going to a funeral on my birthday, but the unfortunate timing did have a silver lining in that we decided to take an extra day driving back from Minneapolis and use that mini-vacation to do something celebratory. Almost as an afterthought, we threw a couple of demo Brompton bikes into the trunk before heading out of the house.

After the funeral, and some social time with relatives, we left Minneapolis in the late afternoon. We chose quiet roads and planned to stop in the town of Red Wing on the banks of the Mississippi. We visited there many years back, and remembered it for the Red Wing Shoe factory there. On our approach into town, Chris spotted a sign that he thought said "Canyon" Valley Trail, which is how we decided we would spend the night in town and ride the trail the following day. Chris loves canyons.

The sign in fact said "Cannon" Valley Trail, but we decided to ride it anyway, and it ended up being one of the most memorable and beautiful rides of the year for us. This trail was our first encounter with trail day fees. In this instance I can honestly say the $4 per person contribution was well worth it. Cannon River Trail is one of the best maintained trails I've ever been on, with beautifully landscaped bike rest areas, complete with self-service bike repair stations over the length of the trail.


Guerrilla Camping Ride 8 of 52

Date: February 18-19, 2017
Distance: 35 miles split between one evening and following morning
Weather: High 50's daytime, low 40's overnight
Highlights of the ride: actually getting lost, actually sleeping in a tent in an unsanctioned spot in February, TWO bald eagles on one branch.