Big Ride Update: Day 34
Today we rode 106 miles from Garden Prairie to Coal City, Illinois. It was a long but fairly straightforward ride with many small towns and flat, open fields of corn, wheat and soy bean interspersed with horse farms and wind farms. We had two riders join us for the day. We are staying in Coal City Area Club, one of several abandoned strip mines that was turned into a recreational site once the coal mines left town.
Setting off at dawn to beat the heat for a long, 106 mile day.
A red farmhouse in Garden Prairie under an early morning sky streaked with pink.
Riding between open fields of corn on Shattuck Road. Illinois is ranked second in corn production and much of the corm is used for ethanol. Illinois produces 40% of the ethanol used in the U.S. This year’s drought has reduced the corn height by 20%–it’s supposed to be seven feet tall by July 4.
Horse farming is popular in northern Illinois.
A green field of soybeans with dark rider shadows. Illinois trades places with Iowa as the leading producer of soybeans in the country.
A wind farm between Kirkland and Shibbona. With taller turbines and sustainability concerns,Illinois has seen renewed interest in the use of wind power to generate electricity.
Paul Carpenter, an experienced rider, joined us for a day of biking. Paul teaches at Northern Illinois University and commutes 62 miles daily on his bicycle.
Crossing the Illinois River, a 273-mile tributary of the Mississippi. It was important among native. Americans and early French settlers as the major route connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi.
Entering Coal City Area Club. The abandoned strip mines were filled with water and turned into lakes and other recreational facilities by enterprising locals after the coal mines left town. Parts of the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles were shot in Coal City and it is also a reference in the film Blues Brothers (the state prison at Joliet is not far from Coal City)
Local rules about catch and release
An exhausted Big Rider sprawls under a tree after completing his century. The feet are elevated so that the accumulated lactic acid can drain down.
Big Riders relax at a picnic in Coal City Area Club.