Illinois Great Rivers Ride launches in Rockford Sept. 11

Don’t miss out on the first-ever Illinois Great Rivers Ride, launching at 7 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11 in Rockford along the Rock River.

The Illinois Great Rivers Ride, which runs through Sept. 18, is a noncompetitive bike ride that begins in Rockford and travels 385 miles along the Rock, Mississippi and Illinois rivers, making stops each day for various activities, performances, tours and more before concluding in Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton.

Local government officials and Illinois State Travel Director Jan Kostner are expected at the Sept. 11 launch in Rockford.

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.

To date, the ride has garnered more than 200 registrants from 23 states, some traveling from as far away as Hawaii. Notable participants include newlyweds on their honeymoon and an 81-year-old cyclist.

What follows is the Illinois Great Rivers Ride schedule:

Day One, Sept. 11—From Rockford, riders will ride along the Rock River to Sterling/Rock Falls, where participants will join the community’s Mexican Heritage Week celebration with fun, food and dance, as well as night Frisbee. Day One distance: 59 miles.

Day Two, Sept. 12—From Sterling/Rock Falls, riders will journey to the Quad Cities (Rock Island/Moline) for a variety of activities, including dinner hosted by John Deere, a visit to the John Deere Pavilion, and a chance to ride a Channel Cat boat along the Mississippi River. Day Two distance: 61 miles.

Day Three, Sept. 13—Route continues along the Mississippi River to Big River Forest Preserve in Henderson County, where riders can relax for the evening, hike and enjoy a catfish fry and bluegrass entertainment and dancing. Day Three distance: 57 miles.

Day Four, Sept. 14—Riders will continue traveling south along the scenic Mississippi River to historic Nauvoo, where they will be welcomed by a skydiver, a local festival and a barbeque. Participants will also get to experience beautiful Nauvoo through horse-drawn wagon rides and a visit to the state’s oldest winery, Baxter’s Vineyards. Day Four distance: 57 miles.

Day Five, Sept. 15—Riders will get a sense of Illinois’ architecture and rich history when they tour Quincy’s Historic District aboard a double decker bus. The day will wrap up at Back Waters Supper Club for an evening of dancing and entertainment. Day Five distance: 47 miles.

Day Six, Sept. 16—As the trip winds down, riders will stop in Pike County for a visit to the Heartland Lodge where participants will enjoy country-western music and the opportunity to explore the grounds via horseback riding or hay rides. Day Six distance: 55 miles.

Day Seven, Sept. 17—The last day takes riders to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton for a Jimmy Buffet-inspired celebration, with fun fare and music—all culminating with a fireworks show on the riverfront. Day Seven distance: 50 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. 31-Sept. 6, 2005, issue

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