Monday, September 26, 2016

A good day with ups and downs.  First up:  Breakfast at Fran & Marilyn's in Jerseytown (nearest lodging we could find to the end of the day's ride in Grafton):  Behold the Ponyshoe.  In the words of our waitress, "You got your toast, you got your meat (I chose sausage), you got your eggs, you got your hash browns.  It is served in a pile and smothered in gravy."
Next up was the start of the day on State Hwy 100 out of Grafton.  The temp was in the high 70's, almost no wind and the road was flat and appropriately called the great scenic byway.
 This tug with his barges was going a little slower than I was.
An up and a down was the section on the Sam Vadalabene trail. Illinois is proud of their bike trails.  This one nicely takes you off the highway and provided a shady place to ride along the river.  Unfortunately, it has not been maintained in years.  Some sections are terribly bumpy because of the tree roots and the last couple of hundred yards before I left it were so badly overgrown that two bikes would not be able to pass each other.
The trail ended at Piasa Park. A tiny park on the highway. .

 An enlargement of the text in the middle:

 The petroglyph of the piasa

For a compete nonsequiter, just before arriving at this park, a string of about 20 identically shaped but differently painted custom cars streamed by me.  Another group of 10 or 12 followed and I was able to get my camera out in time to catch these two.

The Clark bridge , US 67 at Alton.  The road not taken.
This was taken from the Confluence trail.  I had over 12 miles on this trail--another with ups and downs.  The first 9 miles of this were smooth with great views.  One small down (for me, at least) was where the trail crossed roads.  For safety (and I did have one crossing where I needed to wait for a car), they installed these gates.
I'm afraid I saw them more as a challenge to my bike handling.  I hate to walk my bike.
While on the trail, I passed the Lewis and Clark visitor center.  This tower allows you to view the surrounding area from three different levels with descriptions of what you are seeing.  The surrounding grounds have examples of the native plants they saw and collected for Thomas Jefferson.  The center opened at 11 and I was there at 10 so I could only view the outside.
A small "down" while on the trail--I got my second bee sting since I started the trip.  The first one occurred several days ago when the insect flew into my leg while I was traveling fairly fast.  This time, the bug hit my helmet and then dropped to my leg which likely minimized the amount of life he had left to sting me.  The effect was not as severe and did not last as long.  I still wish these things could find someplace to get me besides the inner thigh. The other "down" was the last three miles of the trail where it was not paved but was the same gravel surface as any unimproved road. 
The next feature of the ride was the Chain of Rocks Bridge.  This is an old section of Route 66 that is closed to cars and accessible only to bikes and pedestrians.

A bike rack on the bridge

 Shortly after crossing into Missouri on the bridge, I was on another trail--the St Louis Riverfront trail. This is a very well maintained trail with notices like this for automobiles when they are about to cross or encounter it.

I had been on this trail for 7 or 8 miles when I went around a bend and had my first view of the Gateway Arch, still about 3 miles away

At this moment, the thought went through my mind "I have ridden my bike from the Canadian Border to St. Louis" and a slight chill of excitement went through my body. 

Of course, once actually at the Arch, I had to try another selfie.  This is not one of my strengths!

It was hot and humid and just south of St. Louis I found a Farmer's market that was also a great show of Hispanic music and dancing where I bought two bottles of cold water, one of which I poured over my head.
In a few miles, I got some relief from the heat when a little rain shower dumped on me.  It was still 85 degrees and I would have loved for it to rain longer.  The last "down" for the day--the headwinds returned for the last few miles to Arnold, MO.
I had one more landmark to take a picture of.  Its presence was announced in advance by the aroma. This is especially for my nephew.


  1. Hi Bill, I used to live in St. Louis (the Lou to locals), so these photos brought back some memories. Too bad you didn't stop in Alton and grab a burger at Fast Eddie's. :) Is that Soulard Market in the background of the photo before the Budweiser building?

    1. You have a good eye. It is indeed Soulard Farmers Market. Had I not been hot and tired, I would have probably enjoyed checking it out more.