Grand Illinois Bike Tour explores Madison County



Bezos can have fun in zero gravity. A fast 15-20mph cycle is pretty exciting for me. Going back to school is simple and also safe, you just need to press the crutch.

Turning this column green last July, the Daily Herald launched me into the ether of bike writing, allowing me to report regularly, with bike safety the underlying push. Last year my concern was the topic, not horseback riding, exhaustion. Surprisingly, my own bike boosted ideas, not just endorphins. All the anxiety I had exhausted simply disappeared.

Like bikes in an overcrowded school rack, ideas quickly began to tip over onto each other from readers, clubs, and advocates. My problem became “How do I cover them all?” “

Answer: Burt Constable, columnist for the Herald. He recently reminded readers that veteran journalist Jack Mabley, now deceased, “sometimes wrote what he called an ‘unwanted column’, where he quickly made his point and moved on to another topic.”

I continue this beautiful tradition, even if I prefer the term “collage”.

Illinois by bike

Ride Illinois’ 18th annual Grand Illinois Bike Tour in June drew 193 participants who explored the Madison County Transit trail rail system across St. Louis, quiet roads, and nearby towns including Alton, Lebanon and Litchfield. . Routes of 200 to 375 miles offered flexibility over the six-day tour, as well as “lots of scenic and historic locations,” according to Ed Barsotti, Ride Illinois consultant and GIBT ride manager.

Sights ranged from the Mary Meachum Underground Railroad Freedom Passage, US Route 66, Century-old Cahokia Mounds and St. Louis Gateway Arch, glimpsed through the mighty Mississippi.

GIBT was born when “Chuck Oestreich, board member and Dick Westfall of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (retired and now chairman of the board) envisioned a weeklong tour, camping in state parks near the Grand Illinois Trail, a vast network of trails / roads in northern Illinois, ”explains Barsotti.

“Over time, GIBT migrated to other parts of Illinois. This was the first year that it was reserved for hotels.” The pandemic has canceled camping options.

GIBT is the only multi-day ride to support Ride Illinois, the statewide nonprofit cycling advocacy organization whose mission is to improve Illinois through cycling. Executive Director Dave Simmons notes, “This is our biggest annual fundraiser, accounting for 20-25% of revenue.

“Ride Illinois was fortunate to be financially healthy in 2020 and able to withstand the impact of the canceled fundraiser. Donations from some GIBT 2020 registrants have been very generous,” said Simmons.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the June 2022 tour, through the campaigns of Bloomington, Normal and Peoria. Registrations on the Ride Illinois website at will open on November 1.

Bike instructor training

The Chicago SAFE (Streets Are For Everybody) / Vision Zero program sponsors a League of American Bicyclists League (LCI) Cycling Instructor Certification Seminar for experienced riders interested in training others to ride safely.

The September 24-26 seminar includes classroom lessons, bike riding skills and an exam. Instructions will be zoomed in online, with bike training in a parking lot at the University of Illinois-Circle Campus. The seminar focuses on teaching and demonstration techniques for use with students in the classroom and by bicycle.

Applicants must be LAB members, have successfully completed the LCI-led Smart Cycling course at least one month prior to the seminar, and register on the LAB website, Registered candidates take an open book exam using seminar materials.

Larry Mysz, national coach of the LCI program, will lead the seminar. Mysz, member of the Board of Directors of the Active Transportation Alliance since 2011, sits on the cycling / pedagogy committee and belongs to the Folks on Spokes cycling club.

Left on the editing room

• The Cyclo Rickshaw Cycling Without Age brought back fond memories for 90-year-old Rita Moody of Arlington Heights, from Michigan’s Apple Cider Century to Barrington Hills road bike rides with her husband. She was following the Tour de France when I called, interrupting her viewing.

“Watching the tour reminded me of riding the Wheeling Wheelmen to Lake Geneva,” she recalls. “On the way back we had a tailwind and, boy, we were really traveling by that time.”

• Alan Kooperman, a retired high school social studies and workshop teacher, refurbishes used bikes for donation. While West Town Bikes of Chicago benefits the most, his volunteering accompanies him to Bonita Springs.

“In Florida, a lot of retirees want to cycle for exercise,” he explains. “Once they get older they sometimes decide that it might not be wiser to ride. Some condos and large apartments end up with abandoned bikes, some barely used.

At the Café of Life, a homeless charity, Kooperman fixes them.

“We give bikes to people who need them to get to work, no questions asked.”

• Another benefit of cycling columnists is being invited to events, including the McHenry County Bicycle Club 40th Anniversary celebration on June 26th. I felt at home among the guests of honor, including club founders Lon Haldeman, Chuck Howenstine, Erin Hynes, George Mann and John Shiel. Over 50 celebrated fraternities, memories and a meal together. Forty years is a lot of miles, and even more fraternity.

• Cyclists and pedestrians can now safely cross the busy Lake-Cook Highway in Wilke to enjoy 5.5 miles of trails in Lake County’s Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve. Cyclists can access the reserve without risking the Schaeffer Road crossing – no crosswalks or signals – or the bustling Arlington Heights Road intersection a mile to the east.

Cooperation between Lake and Cook Counties and the Village of Arlington Heights has supported this improved safety. It included $ 198,300 in federal funds and $ 33,717 each from Cook County and Arlington Heights.

• Join the race. Contact Ralph Banasiak at [email protected]


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