Perry and I planned this trip most of the summer. The plan was to go down to Peoria for the annual Peoria Hamfest then ride our bikes home. Perry and Kathy and I all drove down to Peoria Friday night (with the bikes). The bikes were checked out very well before we left home. I put new tires on my bike a couple weeks before. (Even had a couple long rides to make sure the new tires werew seated right). Then the first problem - My rear tire was flat when we got there! The inner tube had sprung a leak by the valve stem. Well, that's why we brought a spare tube! Next problem: The spare tube had a schrader valve instead of a presta. Well, Peoria has to have a bike shop, right? Saturday after the hamfest (gotta get the priorities right), we stopped and picked up 2 new inner tubes (made sure they were presta valves). Put the tube in and pumped it up. Finally - ready to go! One last equipment checkout Saturday night before we hit the sack. We went out to the garage to find the back tire flat again! After an inspection of the tube, I found a small hole in the tube. Defective tube! We were able to patch it and kept it for a spare. The other tube went on. START DAY
Got up bright and early Sunday morning and went out to the garage to find . . . four good tires! All right!!! Lets ride!!
As we started out the temperature was about 50 degrees and sunny! Not too bad since they were predicting low 40s in the morning. It warmed up later to the mid 60's. The ride through Peoria wasn't too bad. We had a little traffic on the McLugage Bridge but Rt 116 was nice to ride on. (Other than the Germantown hill). The hill wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. We encountered worse. Of course we were well equiped with amateur radio equipment. As we rode into Washburn, we talked to a couple guys flying a Huey. We talked them into picking us up and giving us a ride.
They dropped us off in Wenona where we had a good lunch and rode on toward Ottawa. In the afternoon, we picked up a little headwind. The trip from Wenona up old Rt 51 was a little ruff. Straight north into the wind. When we turned off to the northeast, things improved a little. Finally we saw the Ottawa water tower. Ottawa was finally within reach. We encountered a really fun hill (down of course) But that meant back up to get out of the river valley. We stayed at a Comfort Inn that had a pool. That pool really felt good! By the time we got out of the pool it was starting to get dark, so we just
across the street to eat dinner. Total for the day : 82 miles. A new record for both of us.
MONDAY Monday morning was not quite as nice. It was overcast most of the day. But no wind. We were traveling light. Not too much room to carry stuff on the bike. When You're on the bike you have to improvise. I didn't bring a hair drier along, so we stopped at the airport on the way out of town, and improvised!
The pilot said he could tie the bikes onto the bomb racks, but didn't have room for both of us so we had to find an alternate source of transportation. I guess we should have known better by the looks of the plane - but Capt Festus said we could make it to Aurora.
Anyway, there wasn't too much damage from the crash - just straightened out the handlebars and away we rode. Rt 71 between Ottawa and Yorkville was nice. Mostly rolling hills, but we were able to get up enough momentum going down to coast most of the way up the hills. The road was recently paved, and had wide paved shoulders to ride on. We made really good time all the way to Yorkville. There were a couple little sprinkles of rain that we woried about a little, but not enough for us to even get wet.
From Yorkville, we took mostly back roads into Aurora, where we ate lunch.
Then came the bike trail. We picked up the Fox River Trail in Aurora and rode it from Aurora to Elgin. It's a really great trail. Mostly blacktopped - and not too many roads to cross. In Elgin, we split up. Perry lives in Elgin, so he headed up the HILL (bad word at this point) and home. I continued up the trail thru Elgin. The trail stops in Elgin and continues north of town. They take you on a "Bike Route" thru town on city streets. I had a little mishap on one of the streets. The street has old railroad tracks crossing it at a sharp angle. When I rode across, my back tire dropped into the rut and flipped me on the ground. Anyway just a little scrapped knee and I was back on the road. I left the bike trail in Algonquin and took the back roads thru Barrington Hills. Barrington Hills was correctly named - lots of HILLS (there's that bad word again). I arrived home about 5:30. Pretty close to schedule. (I was guessing about 5:00.) Monday total : 87 miles Well, OK I might have exagerated the helicopter and plane stories a little. . . But we really saw the helicopter and planes - they were kind of bolted to the ground - but they made nice pictures. And how did I get the nice maps? I used a Garmin 12XL GPS receiver. It recorded the whole trip which I downloaded into my computer later. I also had the GPS receiver connected to my portable radio which relayed our position back home every 3 minutes. I only ran the radio part Monday because we didn't have a good radio path until we got to Ottawa.
All the stuff went neatly into one of the paniers and didn't really add too much weight. So what's our next trip?? We're working on one for next year. We're not sure where yet, but I think there will be cheese involved (Somewhere in Wisconsin).
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