Galena, IL to Savanna, IL – 32 Miles

…”It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels” -Heinz Stucke

Our Labor Day weekend “time out” was supposed to officially start today.  The plan was to leave Galena in the morning, drive about two hours to our friend Jim’s farm in Iowa, and hang out for a few days.

Since the drive would be taking us more or less along the MRT route downriver toward Savanna anyway, I suggested we could fit in a “quick” 30 miles in the morning and then continue to Jim’s from there in the afternoon. So that’s what we did.

Those “quick” 30 miles would carry us out of the Driftless area, but that didn’t mean the hills were done with us.

We decided to return to following the “official” MRT route. The guidebook refers to a “pretty good hill” on this section.  There were THREE pretty good hills -we had a total ascent of 1,119 feet in the first half of the ride.

Our official departure photo:

The hotel was located on the North edge of Galena. We had to ride a few miles through town before crossing the bridge over the Galena River and, shortly after, turning off of the highway into a small neighborhood.  It didn’t take long before we were out in the country.

We passed this interesting house and yard decoration display back in the countryside.  Somehow I feel like this wasn’t especially for Halloween!

On the GPS, if you’ve mapped a route you can switch back and forth from the regular riding display (miles/time/speed) to the map screen.  When you are approaching a big hill, it automatically changes and gives information such as how long the hill is, what the grade is (on display the whole way up) and how far is left to get to the top as you ride up.  It helps, but when I first see it pop up on the screen, I get a bit…”Oh no!”

The last hill was a doozy!  Mike swears he saw 20% grade flash on his GPS briefly, but the official grade was 15%.   The picture below was taken looking back after we got to the top -the sign is warning trucks about how steep the down hill is.  This was the “pretty good hill” from the guidebook.By the time we reached the top of the hill, we’d ridden about 10 miles, so it was time for a break.  We stopped next to the entrance for the local ski resort. (A bike lift for that hill would have been nice!!)  

You can imagine our joy when we came to this sign below… If you squint, you can see where the gravel started toward the curve in the background. Fortunately, it only lasted about a mile before we saw pavement again.

We stayed up on the plateau for another 5 miles and then had our last terrifying downhill.  My top speed was about 30 mph, but if I hadn’t been squeezing the life out of the brake handles, it would have been more.  All told, we descended 1,345 feet on the way to Savanna, so even with the “ski hill” we went up, there was more downhill than up, which was a nice change of pace.

I told Mike that I wanted to do the final 15 miles of the day as fast as we could.  He thought I got a little ambitious about it, but we were riding along a highway that had no shoulder and I thought the faster we went, the sooner we’d be off of that road.  It was very much appreciated that the vehicles overtaking us were extremely courteous -giving us plenty of safe room as they passed us.  It was also nice that traffic was light.

It didn’t seem long at all before I spotted the bridge at Savanna in the distance. (You can see highway shoulder that we were dealing with for these last few miles.)

Mike and I were just in Savanna last summer because it was a stop on the Great River Rumble paddling trip.  This time we arrived on two wheels, instead of a kayak!

Nicky had stayed at the hotel for awhile after we left and then went shopping for a few groceries. She was surprised to catch up to us on the road when we were only a few miles outside of Savanna.  She didn’t have long at all to wait for us at the riverside park there.

Our welcoming committee.
Looking back at the bridge.
Looking downriver – still a long way to New Orleans!

After a short break, we got the bikes on the rack and headed to a nearby “biker” restaurant called Poopy’s.  I’d wanted to eat there last summer, but it was closed the day we were in town. I was determined to see it this time.

I’m sure you’re already having a lot of fun with that name!  They do too.  It doesn’t look like much outside, but there is a very large outdoor area behind it with various bars, stages and places to sit.

Nicky was willing to strike a pose!

We had planned to eat there, but decided it was too early for lunch -so onward to Jim’s.

We spent the evening with Jim visiting a great BBQ restaurant for dinner and then checking out a few riverfront pubs in the area so we could sit by the water and watch the world go by.

 The next morning, we delivered Nicky to the airport for her flight home.  She’d graciously come along with us for the first week or so, but needed time at home to get ready for her own upcoming vacation.  There aren’t enough “thank you’s” to express how grateful we are for her help. It made things so much easier and less stressful for us.

On the way back from the airport, Jim took us to the John Deere Pavilion in Moline (one of the Quad Cities).

The show-floor has a mix of antique farm equipment and new equipment on display.  It really is amazing to realize how far farm machinery has evolved since John Deere revolutionized the plow in the mid 1800’s.

This is the newest tractor/combine.  It was massive.

Jim and Mike checking out the controls.

Our only worries for the next day or so were whether to sit on the screened porch or by the fire pit outside.  (There was a bit of laundry to do too.)



Categories: Galena IL to Savanna IL, MRT Bike Trip 2018 & 2022

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