SEA TO SHINING SEA: Madison County's amazing trail system

July 12, 2013

DAY 59 - July 11, 2013 - We rode the Riverfront Trail out of St. Louis, crossed the Mississippi just upriver from downtown, and landed in Illinois' Madison County. After a few twists and turns, we found ourselves riding east on an amazing system of bicycle and pedestrian trails.  Almost all paved, the interconnected system links several small towns with more than 100 miles of trails. We rode for 30 miles with no traffic before finishing out the Madison County Transit Heritage Trail in the village of Marine. We talked to several people who said they had located in the area because of the trails.

We rode on an additional 39 miles before pitching our tent on the grass of the Bond County Fairgrounds. We passed through huge fields of tall corn, most remarkable because we saw no evidence of irrigation. Becky's father once considered moving his farming operation out here from near Baltimore, before settling instead for Maryland's Eastern Shore near Chestertown. He said the topsoil in southern Illinois is seven-feet deep.  But Illinois doesn't have Chesapeake Bay and that tilted the balance scales for the farmer/sailor.

Our 69 miles today raised our total to 2,252. Still averaging about 10 miles an hour. Not bad today considering a steady 8-10 knot headwind.  Looks like we have a week of those ahead as we continue pedaling toward Pittsburgh, kind of paralleling I-70, but on trails wherever available and smaller roads.

Quiet here tonight except when the big trains pass.  We'll be out of here at first light, headed Friday for Effingham.

Logging off at 9:30 p.m. Sweet dreams.

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