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Grand Illinois Tail Bicycle Ride Key Equipment


Day Two

Ottawa to Sheffield


Up at 6:30am. It was restless night with a little rain. I had to use the tent's rain fly. The problem with the rain fly on most tents, is that condensation builds up on the inside walls, and you end up soaking yourself with the water created inside from condensation. As much as I could, I tried to keep the fly off the tent so that it could breathe.

My muscles feel weary but refreshed, and I am ready for another day. I am 55 miles away from a good stopping point. If I have the strength and I still have daylight, I could go another 20 miles to get to another potential camping area. LaSalle Peru and Route Six are between those numbers. If all goes well it is a 75 mile day. If it goes like yesterday, I'll stop around 55. I will be entering the Hennepin trail and attempting to get West of Geneseo. This might allow me to make Palisades State Park on the third day. I took some time drying out my bag and eating breakfast, but was on the road by about 8:30am



This stone building looks like something left over from the canal days. It reminds me of the British countryside where you see buildings like this everywhere. It seems they use more stone and brick on their farm buildings.



This rock was cutout so that the train tracks could run through it. I guess it was cheaper to cut a small hole through the rock than to blast out the whole thing. Illinois was one of the most developed places in the world for rail traffic in the mid 1800’s. Had Lincoln not been known for the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, his legacy would have lived through his efforts to get the transcontinental railroad built across the United States. Check out: Nothing Like it in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad. By Stephen Ambrose. It’s a good read. It does a good job of explaining the mood of the United States at a time when the I & M Canal was a crucial means of transportation.



Stopped at a toilet maintained by the municipality in Utica. Very nice place to refill my water and “meditate.” This trip is tough on my body, even though I am in fairly good shape. I started the trip at about 215 pounds and rode the bike intermittently throughout the previous four months. I thought I was ready for this trip, but a little more physical preparation might have been a good idea.

In Peru, I rode up a steep hill and torqued the pedals so hard that I bent the back rim pretty bad. The bike seems ride-able. I tried to bend it back during lunch. This may have been a mistake.


I would take the time to write my notes whenever resting. I used the back of the map pages. On my Motorcycle trip across Europe, I had a Palm Pilot with one of those portable keyboards. This made it easier to reproduce. When I dug out the keyboard, I found it was no longer working –Those keyboards are so delicate. Also, when changing the batteries on palm pilots, you have to be quick or you can lose all the information.

The old fashioned way is nice for a few reasons.  First, you can make drawings and doodles if  you wish; second, there’s less stress concerning data loss.               

Retyping notes made the trip much more memorable. Throw the Palm Pilot (or handspring, or Blackberry, or whatever) away. I did not carry anything more technical than my stove. A cell phone may have afforded a level of comfort, but not having one, added to the adventure.

25 grueling miles so far today. What the hell is Galena and JoDavies County going to be like? That hill in Peru was just damaging. Hills on route 6 and route 29 are the same, but this time, I decided to walk them. Five miles short of my morning goal, I still covered 25 miles. Completing a 70 mile day seems impossible.


There are numerous bridges and aqueducts on the Hennepin trail. It is much newer than the I&M canal and seems less frequently used. It makes a great bike ride.



I am at mile marker 11 on the Hennepin trail and am using more than five liters of water a day. (A little under a gallon and a half) I am dead tired, this is very hard, and I am beginning to feel that completion of the entire GIT trail is a fantasy.

My eyes burn from the sweat that runs through the body salt that has dried on my face. I covered a good bit of miles today, and I am completely out of gas! I am near the Hennepin State park office but cannot seem to find any water here. I set up camp a little further down from the park, and plan to backtrack for water tomorrow.



END DAY 2: Ottawa to Sheffield
Route: GIT Clockwise
Stayed At: 2-3 Miles from Hennepin State Park Office near Sheffield
Total Miles 54.6
Total Time 7:26:24
Average Speed 7.3
Maximum Speed 33.6


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