Illinois Great Rivers Ride kicks off Sept. 9

Don’t miss the Second Annual Illinois Great Rivers Ride, Sept. 10-16.

The Illinois Great Rivers Ride is a noncompetitive bike ride that will begin in Rockford and travel 400 miles along the Rock, Mississippi and Illinois rivers making stops each day for various activities, performances, tours and more before concluding in southwest Illinois in the city of Alton.

The ride is sponsored by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns Economic Development program, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.

In 2005, the inaugural Illinois Great Rivers Ride hosted more than 200 cyclists from 23 states.

The Illinois Great Rivers Ride will showcase the unique destinations along Illinois’ rivers by creating a new experience for travelers to explore many of the state’s treasures. The ride will serve as an exciting travel experience, and will also drive tourism and economic development to the areas along the three rivers.

The ride kicks off with a brief program and ceremony in Rockford at 7 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 10.

Pre-ride Celebration (Sept. 9): The festivities start with a celebration featuring sightseeing, entertainment and dinner in Rockford. Cyclists will visit Anderson Japanese Garden and Rockford’s historic district, Haight Village, where they can participate in a vintage baseball game or tour the Midwest Village and Museum. Participants will also enjoy a pasta dinner followed by an ice cream social.

Following is an overview of the Illinois Great Rivers Ride route and related activities:

Day One (Sept. 10): The ride kicks off in Rockford and follows the beautiful Rock River to an overnight stay in Sterling/Rock Falls. Evening activities include a Mexican fest, featuring a mariachi band, and night Frisbee. Total distance: 59 miles.

Day Two (Sept. 11): Riders continue along the Rock and Mississippi rivers to Rock Island. Evening activities include tours of the Quad City Botanical Center and the Rock Island Arsenal, as well as a ride on the Channel Cat Water Taxi on the Mississippi River, followed by dinner at the John Deere Pavilion. Total distance: 61 miles.

Day Three (Sept. 12): The route continues along the Mississippi River to Big River Forest Preserve in Henderson County. Evening activities include Native American re-enactments under the stars, a fish fry and a horseshoe toss contest. Total distance: 60 miles.

Day Four (Sept. 13): Riders will continue traveling south along the scenic Mississippi River to Nauvoo, where they will camp at Nauvoo State Park. Afternoon activities include golfing followed by a country western-themed dinner with live music and square dancing. Additional evening events include historic tours by horse-drawn wagon and a tour of Baxter’s Vineyards, Illinois’ oldest winery. Total distance: 57 miles.

Day Five (Sept. 14): The ride continues south along the Mississippi River to historic Quincy. Evening activities include a German fest with authentic German food and entertainment. Total distance: 47 miles.

Day Six (Sept. 15): The route follows the Mississippi River to Nebo. Participants can choose from a variety of activities and performances in Nebo, including re-enactments by an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, horseback riding, trap-shooting and visits to Pea Ridge Elk Ranch. The day culminates with a celebration at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, complete with a delicious steak dinner, hayrides and a bonfire. Total distance: 55 miles.

Day Seven (Sept. 16): The route continues to Hardin, where cyclists will board a ferry and enjoy entertainment during an 18-mile ride down the Mississippi River to Brussels. The ride continues to Alton, where it will conclude with a celebration at the National Great Rivers Museum at Melvin Price Locks and Dam in Alton. Evening activities include dinner, dancing and fireworks along with a visit to the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford for era re-enactments. Total distance: 64 miles.

Each night, riders have the option to sleep beneath the stars in tents at state parks and campgrounds or in designated hotels or motels.


From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

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