Sunday, September 21, 2008

River Trail of Illinois

We've hiked the River Trail of Illinois from East Peoria's Fon du Lac park district building on Veterans Drive a few times over the years. But, with the recent acquisition of some bikes, I thought it might be fun to ride the trail Saturday, which turned out to be a beautiful morning.
The hard-surfaced hiking and biking trail was finished in 1991, running 4.8 miles north and east out of East Peoria along the old Illinois Terminal Railway line.
Starting out on our bikes, we were soon pedaling and pedaling. Each time we would stop pedaling to coast a bit, we would instantly lose speed. It didn't really look like we were ascending, but checking our GPS, we found that at one point in the ride, we had ascended almost 200 feet!
About four miles into the ride, we were able to stop near an ice cream shop in East Peoria and look for a geocache. StfRon quickly found the hidden gem, and I grabbed a bottle of water from the ice cream shop vending machine, since they were closed.
We did encounter a pretty long uphill slope at one point, but we finally made it to the crest.
We continued on the trail to see the end, and turns out it connects with a trail in Morton. We rode to the Oak Lawn trailer park, then turned back, deciding we could check out the Morton portion some other time.
Riding back was the real treat due to the return trip down the slope. Coasting down, I kept picking up speed until at one point I was cruising at 18 MPH. I was able to coast without pedaling for at least a mile, with the breeze blowing through my hair, enjoying the view of all the trees.
It was at that moment that I decided I would have to hit this trail again on my bike when the fall colors are out in full force.
Several people were out enjoying the nice day on the path, from bikers to walkers. I plan to make it more of a habit now, too.

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