This is NOT a post about road riding, though the title may imply that. Instead, it's about riding while on vacation, on the road, so to speak.
I had the foresight to ship a bike out to my in-laws this past spring, knowing that we make about two or more multi-day trips to north-central Illinois (yeah, fine, for all you locals who take exception to me calling it "central" Illinois -- southwest Chicago). My mother-in-law is graciously storing it for me. In a shipping box.
The roads out there are laid out in a very geometric pattern, easy to navigate and not get lost, as long as you keep track of wind direction. Bonus is that you can see your landmarks for quite a distance. Meaning there aren't any real hills (by a Pacific northwest standard).
Anyway... I was wanting to find some folks on Velocipede Salon to ride with while I was there this past weekend. While that didn't pan out (and is kind of a relief, as my schedule degraded quickly leaving me only one opportunity to save my sanity with a ride), there was a suggestion to hop onto the I & R Canal Trail and cruise away the miles.
I have a few rail-trail conversions not too far from me, and they're a nice, mindless ride when it's not a busy time (like most any weekday -- on nice weekends, look out). They're all paved, however.
On one of our trips out a couple years ago, we had crossed the I & M Canal Trail on the way to a community pool, and I'd noticed that it wasn't paved, though I didn't know just how rocky it could be.
Turns out it's very smooth -- better than a lot of the roads I ride on near home. The surface is crushed lava rock and cinder, and very well maintained. A glorious ride.
The fall colors were nearly in full bloom, something that we don't get a lot of in the land of evergreens.
I look forward to going back and riding more of this trail. Maybe I'll be able to round up a couple cohorts to ride along.