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Grand Illinois Tail Bicycle Ride Key Equipment


Day Nine

Elgin to Lansing

Woke up from a restful sleep next to a picturesque lake. The campsite was out of the way, the ground impacted, and the lake was serene.

I go through the morning routine:

You wake up, put on your sandals, and take care of “morning business.” Then, the sleeping bag needs to be pulled out and aired because there will inevitably be condensation. Any drying time that you can allow is a bonus. I find a branch and drape it across.

Frontier Statue in Elgin. -And guess what? This is another featured landmark on the GITride t-shirt.



The tent gets the same treatment. It is wet on the inside walls. The mattress pad valve is opened and left to deflate a little bit. Time to eat.

Pump up the stove that was left set up from the night before. Since it was only used 10 hours ago, it will still have pressure. MSR stoves need to be primed: open the valve, allow a little bit of the gas to fill the cup below the burner, close the value, and light it.

The flame will look like a barbecue starter fluid fire. After a minute, the priming flame starts to burn out. Slowly open the valve again. The fuel delivery tube vaporizes the fuel so that now there is a nice “jet style” flame. 

I fill my thermos drinking cup and pan to measure the water, then dump it into the pot. It takes about 3 minutes to heat. While I am waiting for that, I empty two packets of instant oatmeal then stir in the boiling water. Packets of chocolate milk get added to the thermos cup.

A familiar sight, Navy Pier in Downtown Chicago. I remember attending Mayor Byrn’s Chicago Fest here. It was a scary place back then, but it went through a major modern renovation in recent years to become a very nice park. The ferris wheel is good value, but finding a secure place to park the bike with all your kit while you take a ride is another matter.



It’s a timing thing. The idea is to keep the stove burning for the absolute tiniest amount of time so that you can minimize the amount of fuel you have to carry. At night, the process is about the same. Over nine days, running the stove 10-12 minutes a day should cost you only about a quart in fuel.

Oatmeal is consumed with the hot drink. It’s usually colder in the morning, the hot meal is invigorating, and the warm pots feel good on your hands. If there is any excess warm water, it gets used for cleanup. When done; the stove gets broken down, put into its sack, and folded carefully into the pot. The pan fits neatly on the outside of the pot to save space. With the stove inside the pot, there is less worry of stove damage.



Not something you see everyday, even in Chicago (or especially in Chicago?). It looks like an Ocean faring yacht with helicopter. Somebody told me it belongs to Jim Belushi.



The mattress then gets folded over long-ways. Using knees and hands, it’s turned into a 6”x10” roll then stuffed into its sack. This is a bit strenuous. You’ll feel it on your forearms, but it is a good feeling. It is the most strenuous of all the packing activities because the stuff sack will just barely fit a well rolled mattress. -Same operation with the tent, but this stuff sack is a little looser.

Finally, the sleeping bag gets stuffed then cinched into the compression sack. Everything is loaded onto the bike. Keeping everything in a predetermined place allows you to complete a cognitive checklist, speeds packing, and ensures you don’t leave anything behind.

I will usually spend a few minutes reviewing maps and writing a few notes. After that, the bike is moved a few feet away, the campsite checked one last time, and I shove off. Take only pictures leave only footprints.


The Grand Illinois Trail as it runs through the South Side of Chicago. It’s like a highway for bicycles, well groomed and picturesque. This image is also featured on the GITride t-shirt



After getting the rear wheel fixed yesterday, I thought I might be able to do 120 miles, but this was a little too ambitious. I rode all day and covered 80 miles -the one day record for this trip.

After the picture behind McCormick Place (above), I ran out of digital film. I could have spent some time deleting pictures, but the battery was just about dead too.

It was dusk when I made it to a real “Mom n’ Pop” Pizza parlor.

The girl at the counter directed me to the owners, who allowed me to use their bathroom to wash my hands. This is the first time I get hot water on my hands in ten days. I apologized in advance for my “smelliness,” then gulped down a whole thick pizza with a pitcher of beer.

They must have been U of I supporters too because I saw an “Orange and Blue” flag flying behind the register. In Any case, if you are ever going through Lansing, make sure you stop by and get a pizza there. The people, place, and food are great!
Their website: http://www.mamarigettas.com/

It is funny how quickly you fall back into civilization.

By the end of everyday on the trip I was dead tired by dusk. I had my eyes closed within 30 minutes of 7pm every night. On this "hotel" night, I have the heater blaring after a one hour hot shower. I was up until midnight watching TV, organizing my notes, and clearing the garbage out of the bike.

Elgin to Lansing
Route: GIT Clockwise
Stayed At: Day’s Inn Lansing ($55 b/b-hot) (tax included)
Total Miles 79.1
Total Time 9:40:53
Average Speed 8.2
Maximum Speed 22.1



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