Governor announces first-ever Illinois Great Rivers Ride

CHICAGO—This September, hundreds of riders will have the opportunity to experience Illinois’ natural beauty and magnificent destinations as they wind their way along three of the state’s great rivers during the first Illinois Great Rivers Ride, sponsored by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s “Opportunity Returns” Economic Development program, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.

The seven-day, noncompetitive, 385-mile bike ride begins Sept. 11 in the northern region of the state in Rockford and concludes Sept. 18 in the southwestern region of the state at Pere Marquette State Park, making stops each day for various activities, performances and more. Each night, riders have the option to sleep beneath the stars in tents at state parks and campgrounds or in designated hotels or motels.

“The Illinois Great Rivers Ride will heighten interest and appreciation for the unique destinations along the Rock, Mississippi and Illinois rivers by creating a new experience for travelers to explore many of Illinois’ treasures,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

A few highlights of the ride include the following:

Disc golf and camping along the Rock River in Rock Falls;

A visit to the Rock Island Downtown Arts & Entertainment District for dinner and entertainment;

Bluegrass music under the stars at the Big River Forest Preserve in Henderson County; and

Other activities include camping at Nauvoo State Park; night golf; a historic tour by horse-drawn wagon; a tour of the state’s oldest vineyard, Baxter’s Vineyards; an architectural tour and evening entertainment at the Back Water Night Club in Quincy; a celebration at the Heartland Lodge in Pleasant Hill; and hayrides, bonfires and more.

The final day takes riders on a ferry ride across the Illinois River and then onto Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton for a Jimmy Buffet-themed party and fireworks.

“The Illinois Great Rivers Ride is perfect for riders looking for outdoor adventure, entertainment, history and beauty—all in one trip,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin. “Our goal is to make this an annual event to highlight the rich landscape of our state and create opportunity for Illinois communities to thrive.”

The Illinois Great Rivers Ride is partly funded through a grant from “Opportunity Returns” and corporate sponsorships from WREX-TV Rockford, WGEM-TV Quincy and the Quincy Herald Whig newspaper, all which are owned by Quincy Newspapers Inc.

“We are honored to support the first-ever Illinois Great Rivers Ride,” said Tom Oakley, president and CEO, Quincy Newspapers Inc. “Our television stations and newspapers serve many of the communities along the route, and we are pleased to play a role in an important event such as this that will enhance tourism and economic impact for the state and these communities.”

The cost for the seven-day ride is $300 and is limited to the first 300 cyclists who sign up before Monday, Aug. 15 at 9 a.m. (CST). Children younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. An opportunity for adults and children to ride for a shorter number of days is also available.

Registration includes camping, breakfasts, dinners, evening festivities, snacks and beverages. Use of a support and gear truck, as well as transportation from Pere Marquette State Park back to the various starting points, is also included in the registration fee. Lunches will be available for purchase, as well as additional snacks and beverages. Hotel accommodations will be available each night for interested participants at an additional cost.

For more information or to register, visit or call 877-477-7007 (ext. 217).

From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005, issue

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