Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota
To all who might be waiting on pins and needles to learn where the Travers plan to cycle next, here is our update. In early September, we will stuff our Subaru Impreza with our bicycles, our panniers and our dog, Robbie and travel to DuPage County in Illinois. Upon our arrival, we will say adieu to Robbie, gifting him to our daughter for a month’s time. Then we will begin riding west on the Illinois Prairie Path to the Illinois Michigan Canal Trail. We will cross the Mississippi River into Iowa and then travel northwest and north to Minnesota until we reach he headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca. The estimated mileage is a bit over a thousand miles and we will partake of canal towpaths, rail trails, local roads and state highways. As per our style, we will camp, stay in some small motels, and hopefully find a few Warm Showers hosts along the way.
This plan means it’s time for us to get our bodies in shape once again. Since early May we’ve been training on a variety of rail trails and up and down the hills in the Mad River Valley. In honor of Father’s Day and because Pat’s new passport arrived in the mail, we journeyed by car to Saint Jean sur Richilieu in Quebec to ride on the Chambly Canal trail. This trail is 12 miles in length each way; it’s flat, filled with exquisite scenery and offers delicious food and drink once in Chambly.
It was 55 degrees when we left our home and we had gained only three more degrees when we parked at the tourist information center. After stepping out of the car, my first words were -“it’s too cold; I don’t want to do this.” Of course, I hadn’t dressed appropriately for the weather; the shorts and sleeveless shirt I had on weren’t helping me want to spring into action. Pat’s response was the perfect way to get me on the bicycle. We’ll be in temperatures much like this in Minnesota this fall,” he said. So, I stopped whining and put on my bicycle shoes. At least I had brought along a windbreaker.
Though chilly with the wind blowing in our faces, the ride was easy and seemed way too fast. Unlike the C and O canal the Chambly Canal is an active canal with several locks requiring many lockmasters. This time we spied a boat that had traveled from Georgia. At the halfway point, we stopped for lunch and tried mussels and frites served in a blue cheese broth. One beer and one sangria later, we were back on the trail, this time with the wind lending us a hand.
I don’t know where our next training ride will take us but we’ll keep you apprised as the summer continues. I’m betting we’ll be doing some long trips on the newly minted Lamoille Valley Rail Trail across Vermont.
Shevonne and Pat