The header photograph just below the title of this blog, a fully loaded cyclist (me) against a verdant backdrop of a healthy soybean crop, was shot by my brother-in-law, Jim Finney, in September 2008 during the fourth, and last, Illinois Great Rivers Ride.
The IGRR, organized and funded by my home state, was probably the best tour in terms of rider amenities that I’ve ever participated in. Every day, for example, included a happy hour with free drinks served from a mobile bar. The IGRR, alas, has become a victim of state budget cuts.
Although trucks were available to carry our gear, I used the 2008 IGRR (the third that I rode in) as a shakedown cruise for a cross-country ride. I carried all my gear — tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc. — on my bike. The ride proved to be a good test as the loop through Southern Illinois included formidable hills one after the other. But the shakedown turned out to be easier than I had expected.