Day 19: Camping in the Illinois River Valley

Tonight we stopped into the Hardin Drive-In restaurant and asked if we could camp behind the restaurant if we ordered dinner. The employee called the boss and asked and they said yes; so we ordered a pizza for $12.75 and setup on the riverbank just downstream from the historic Hardin bridge. The southern most bridge on the Illinois River.



We had a side wind or a tailwind all day, along with some big hills during our 55 mile ride. Erik topped out at 49mph (beating his earlier speed today of 44mph) coming down the ridge into Hardin at dusk.

Laundry is doing circles at the 24 hour laundromat. This post is being transmitted to the internet at the Hardin Subway.


On to St Louis tomorrow …. 63 miles to go.

Day 18: Winter is coming

Heading to at least Ashburn, MO with Erik today into the headwind. Maybe push to Louisiana, Missouri if the stars align. The days of sixty degree weather are over up here … Must push South into St Louis before Saturday when the high temperature is just a few degrees above freezing.



Day 17: Rain of cats and dogs

It’s been raining heavy since last night around eleven pm. Thunder, lightning, the whole bit.

My new friend, Esmé, came and visited me (2.5hr drive!!) and brought fuel for my penny stove (I tried six places here in town, no luck.)

We had a great night of fantastic conversation and connected on music, even playing a few tunes and singing along.

Anyway, I woke up this morning to hear the campground owner talking about this guy in a tent. So as my ears burned, I left the tent and went to see what the gossip was about. There was a new Cyclist who’d shown up in the pouring rain after being flooded out down by the river.  Eric worked on his bike and I used the stove fuel and dried food I had to make us some lunch. We’re drying everything out under the pavilion during the afternoon. John one of the campers nearby just brought over his propane fireplace to use tonight


Day 15: 30 miles – Warsaw to Quincy, Il

Wrapped up yesterday after thirty miles when I found a camp ground that lets cyclists stay for $5, has free WiFi, free showers, and reasonable laundry costs.

It was nice and sunny and seventy degrees, but the 15-25mph head winds made any real progress extremely difficult.


The closest bar/grill had $1.25 beers and double cheeseburgers for $7.25.
So I had a few and came back and showered and started my laundry.

Expecting rain, I think I’ll be living in my tent the next few days.

Day 15: Heading Out

To attempt to be more frequent and fluid with updates I’m going to start publishing status updates in addition to the full blog posts I’ve been working on.

Today the sun is shining, it’s 50F, and I’m heading South about 55 miles from Warsaw Illinois to Hannibal Missouri.


Tomorrow it’s supposed to storm so I’m going to take the day off and rest up my sore knee in Hannibal.

I am also going to repack the bike and ship a bunch of stuff back to Minnesota that I’m not using so I can move a bit faster during the day.

Day 2: RECAP – Fridley to Red Wing, er, Prescott



Ready to Roll Out after a photo opportunity.

I awoke on the air mattress from nearly five hours of sleep.  I took a shower and began loading everything onto my bike.  Chris came downstairs and handed me a cup of coffee and we chatted while I ate half the cinnamon roll I’d left out from the night before.

With everything repacked on the bike, I departed around 9:30 to begin the adventure.


Heading into Minneapolis, I decided to take a familiar route down Central Avenue toward downtown.










Autumn was in full swing and I stopped to capture some photos of the golden hue of the fallen leaves against the vibrant, green grass.











Rolling down Central Avenue, I came to Ideal Diner, one of my favorite greasy spoons and so I thought I’d stop in for a proper breakfast.

An order of eggs, toast, and hash browns took 35 minutes to arrive, but they were still delicious.







It doesn’t seem to matter when you cross the St. Anthony Falls pedestrian bridge, there are always people on it.






The Minneapolis Skyline from the St. Anthony Falls Bridge pedestrian and bicycle bridge.


… and then onto the Midtown Greenway “bicycle highway” that cuts East<->West across Minneapolis.


I took the Midtown trail past Hollywood Cycles and stopped in and said goodbye to the owner, Jay, who’d previously done some of the work on my bike this summer (bottom bracket, crank, the failed attempt finding an alternative handlebar setup.)

Continuing East, I passed one of the many pieces of public art along the trail.







Overlooking Eastern Minneapolis from above Minnehaha Falls.


…Past Minnehaha Falls…

They weren’t roaring or raging, so I didn’t bother to take a photo of the falls themselves.

At Fort Snelling, I came across a military veteran who was picking himself up off the ground and cursing sporadically in every direction.  I stopped and said hello, he asked if I’d seen him break the fence moments earlier while attempting to take a photo.  I said, “no,” he them proceeded to express onto me his opinions about the government and how he’d wasted his entire day going out of his way to drive to the Twin Cities to meet with Veteran’s Affairs and receive a government issued cell phone.  He was unsuccessful in receiving the phone.  I wished him a good day and he did to me the same.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, I began the long slow climb over the Mendota Heights Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River.


Crossing the Minnesota River on the Mendota Heights bridge


The trail runs along the Minnesota where it meets the Mississippi through Lilydale and past one of the many “yacht clubs.”



The St. Paul Skyline along the river.


I continued to push out the miles along the river past Newport and toward Cottage Grove.


A tug boat pushing barges up the river.


Cottage Grove toward the Wisconsin border was hill after hill after hill.  The weight of the worst-case-scenario packing I had done was really starting to weigh on my back and legs.  The questions began to pour into my head:

Did I really need my camera gear?  nah.

Did I really need a notebook?  no.

Did I really need four pairs of socks?  … hmm, maybe.


I pushed on and on and my host for the first night, Shawn, had foolishly offered me a ride if I needed one.  So after climbing another hill and starting to see the sun set in the West, I sent Shawn a text saying I’d accept his offer.

We were, after all, in daylight savings time and this “Mississippi Regional Trail” (MRT) I’d heard so much about wasn’t so much a trail as I was finding out, but rather riding the shoulder (when there was a shoulder) of 65 mile per hour (mph) traffic at 5pm on a weekday.  No bueno.



Descending one of the final hills before crossing the river into Wisconsin


I pedaled into Prescott, Wisconsin, twenty miles from my goal for the day and I arranged for Shawn to meet me here in exchange, I’d buy him a drink.

Shawn picked me up, we had a few, including a conventional Wisconsin Bloody Mary (re: the Happy Meal) and then we headed back to Shawn’s place, unloaded the bike, and proceeded to Andy’s bar/restaurant for about another 10 rounds and some wings for dinner.

I met a British guy who was terribly offended when I thought his accent was similar to that of Ringo Starr’s.  He blamed that on living in Minnesota for 11 years.  I met the lovely bartender who was quick with the unnecessary bucket after pouring me an 8oz glass of whiskey at last call.  Youch!   And the pro-fisherman who chatted social media and marketing with me.  I’d go into more detail if I could remember it or if it was important.  It was a great time and a great send off.  Wobbling back to Shawn’s at 2am, I proceeded to charge my phone and immediately pass out on his couch…


Happy Meal bloody mary with a New Glarius Spotted Cow back at the No Name biker bar in Prescott, Wisconsin