I’ve never been a goal-oriented person; I tend to just stumble through life and taking what comes. But I think I’ve cooked up a goal to which I could orient myself: an all-day bike ride.
But where? There are a few lovely bike paths around Springfield, but they don’t really go anywhere, and I’ve ridden them all many, many times. I’d like to make this trip a new experience.
Thankfully, the good people of Madison County have provided cyclists with dozens of miles of interconnected bike paths that actually go places. My planned route makes use of several of those rail-trails:
- The ride begins at Pere Marquette State Park on the Sam Vadalabene Great River Road Bike Trail and heads east, through Grafton and its many wineries, past the tiny town of Elsah and into Alton.
- After passing by the Argosy Alton casino and Riverfront Park, the route then hooks up with the Madison County Transit Confluence Trail. That takes you southeast past the Melvin Price Locks and Dam and then south through the lovely industrial country of the Metro East.
- You then leave the trail just a few hundred feet north of Interstate 270, passing under to make a couple of sharp turns to catch Chain of Rocks Road, which, amazingly enough, takes you across the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
- After crossing the Mississippi River, the bridge spits you out just south of the Missouri side of I-270. There, you catch the St. Louis Riverfront Trail, which heads south through St. Louis’ post-industrial wasteland into downtown.
All told, the route is about 50 miles. But my personal best day’s mileage is somewhere in the low 30s, and it’s been more than two months since I’ve been on a bike. So I’m going to have to “train” for this trip. My goal is to be ready to ride 50 miles by July 1.
I invite you all to mock me when I inevitably fall short.