Nick on the bike 2005: Oregon to Virginia
Home Journal Who am I & why am I doing this?
Back to contents
Day 42: Klondike to Grafton, Illinois(!)
August 25, 2005, 8:56 PM
Where am I now: Grafton, Illinois (38.96952N by 90.43224W at 429 ft.)
Today's distance: 56 miles

The sun doesn't always shine in Illinois either, and there's water everywhere at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Illinois Rivers. But there's also a grand old lady in Grafton, Illinois, I'm at the Ruebel tonight, might be here tomorrow night too, this place is OK. At some point this weather system will either exhaust itself here, or go somewhere else.

I spent a great hour or so visiting with the Overbey's this morning at Klondike ParK. Jim's already ridden across America once this year, the southern route in the Spring, now he's headed for Oregon on the L&C, riding a mtb rig thia time, similar to mine. I tried to download useful information for him about what lies ahead, but there's just so much! Too bad we're headed in opposite directions, these folks are good company.

The radio was again calling for rain today, and this time they'd somehow arranged things so that they were right. As the heavens were just beginning to open up, I was just a few miles downtrail from camp approahing the town of Defiance; I ducked into the bar, and yes! They were serving breakfast


parks & soils tax??? try that in Va.....

The same bunch of people & baby who'd been in the bar a few towns uptrail last night were also here for breakfast, we just picked up the conversation where we left off. By the time I'd finished eating the rain had stopped. I got back on the trail. It was only another 15 or so miles to St. Charles, I figured I could at least get down there and hole up if the rain was a problem.

The territory is increasngly suburban as I approach St. Charles, but the river's still the river, bigger than ever. With occasional viney flood plain woods to the right and rock outcrops to th left. I take some photos occasionally.


As I was coming into St. Charles proper, the old railroad station in sight, the clouds in my mirror were looking really bad. There was thunder somewhere, I made a bee line for the KATY trailhead kiosk (which is roofed with benches). It was an appropriate place for me to wait out the second storm of the day, as this is the point where I leave the trail and head back into the outside world. I'd wanted to get out of Missouri and into Illinois today, but I figure I'll grab a motel if the weather doesn't clear.

Eventually the storm passes, and the sun does come out. I get up from my nap on the bench, back on the bike, and cruise downtown St. Charles, nicely restored, before heading east to the ferry across the Mississippi.

A couple of miles out of St. Charles I'm riding along the asphalt shoulder of a concrete 4 lane road doing 15mph or so mph with moderate traffic near the airport. I see a canyon cutting across the entire shoulder ahead of me, check traffic and cut left to get onto the highway proper and around the cut in the paved shoulder. My front wheel slides along the wet ridge between concrete and asphalt rather than climbing it, and I flip the rig & slide down the pavement on my left knee, hip and forearm. A taxi driver headed the other way sees the whole thing, does one of those TV police-chase U-turns in the middle of the highway, and uses his cab to block traffic going my way until I get myself & all myself and my sh*t picked up & out of the road. There was no traffic coming when I pulled my maneuver, but that guy's quick thinking probably saved my stuff from getting run over or me, if I had been seriously injured. It was a really cool move on his part. Once everything was on the shoulder he pulled over to make sure I was all right. I checked everything out, nothing broken, the road rash wasn't too bad, the rig was not too much the worse for wear. I thanked him effusively, offered to pay him for his time but he wouldn't take anything.

I got back on the bike and kept on bookin'. Get my butt out of Missouri & to the nearest motel.

The 25 miles to the Ruebel involved one ferry crossing over the Mississippi, an interestingly hilly ride across the neck of land between that river and the Illinois, then another ferry ride over the Illinois.

waiting for the second ferry, Illinois River

The rain held off, but it was overcast and misty. I found a paved bike path on the east side of the Illinois, which I rode into Grafton.

I'm a wet and worn out dog (a bit beat up too) headed for shelter, and the Ruebel is it. I have a feeling I might sleep in tomorrow, the weather says more of the same, clear skies the following day.