Savanna, IL to Port Byron, IL – 47.4 Miles

…”You got to go down a lot of wrong roads to find the right one.” – Bob Parsons 

Jim has volunteered to lend a hand as our new “hag” …only we decided he should be called a sag “stag” since he’s a guy. We worked out a shuttle situation where we were able to have him get us back to Savanna, but then leave our car for us at our end point for the day -Port Byron.  

We got our bikes off the rack and grabbed our bits and pieces for the day.

After our official departure photo, Jim drove our car back to Port Byron and parked it there for us.  He went home in his car from there.  

We hadn’t planned to ride today at all since it was Labor Day, but there is sixty mile bike path going South that starts in Savanna, so we figured we’d be mostly away from holiday traffic.  

We rode down Savanna’s Main Street looking for the rail car that I knew was near the trailhead for the Great River Trail.

We were expecting to ride about 43 miles today.  I didn’t plot out the mapping for our GPS units as carefully as I’ve been doing for the last few days because it was a bike trail…what could go wrong? (Famous last words),  At least the worst of the hills were in the rearview mirror.

The beginning of the trail seemed a bit industrial.

But we did get some scenery a few miles in.

The trail put us on a road through a campground.  We took a break at the bathrooms there and had a nice chat with some other bikers who’d stopped for a break at the time.

You would think that having a bike path to ride on would be a great way to get on down the road.  A bike path is away from busy roads and might wind through scenery you wouldn’t see from a car.  This bike trail was not lovingly maintained.  It was a mix of bike path and side roads and for the most part the side roads were the better end of the deal.  Except this stretch below:

The trail was a calamity of broken pavement, butt pounding bumps, grass and large twigs littering the way, and a lot of missing signs – especially at important turns!

The signs were a little faded and sometimes it was easier to try to look for the signs placed for trail users coming from the opposite direction (when regular roads were used as part of the trail) to make sure we were on track.

The town of Fulton was a rest stop – It is always good when we can find a gas station.

At one point we knew the trail crossed the highway and was away from the river for several miles before coming back to the river side of the highway.  We were following the signs until it looked like it was dead-ending. Then we saw an arrow directing us onto the road.  Right after that, we had to stop for a train. After we crossed the tracks, we found one or two more signs and then got on a long stretch along a back road with rolling hills (which we didn’t expect to see much of today since bike trails are generally pretty flat). 

A couple of miles down the road we both felt like something was wrong,  We pulled over to doublecheck ourselves and realized we’d either made a wrong turn or missed a turn.  We ended up having to turn back to try to rejoin the bike trail near a town called Albany -which ultimately added about 3 miles to our distance for the day.  As we arrived in town, the GPS was telling me to follow a road along the top of a hill across from the highway and river (which we could see). 

We thought the bike path should be along the river, so we went down toward the river  We ended up at Albany’s waterfront park -so we took a break.


It was in the rest rooms at Albany’s park where I discovered my mermaid tail! After the break, we saw a man and stopped to ask him where the bike path was? He said… “Well, there’s two ways to get to it.  The official way is up on that hill (pointing to where we’d just been) and the unofficial way is to take this road here along the river until it joins the highway and ride the highway for about a mile. You’ll see the trail on the right.” That would have been the point where the trail came back to the river from the “other side”.   We’d had enough of the crazy routing and wanted the most direct route back to the trail – so we rode the highway shoulder or no shoulder.

In one section of the trail, we went through a debris field of dry grass, twigs and even larger bits of wood -as if some brush had been sent through a wood chipper.  All of a sudden I heard a not-so-good-sounding clunk..CLUNK…clunk and my pedals seemed to be grinding.  We pulled over and Mike took a rather large chunk of wood out of my front sprocket. It was stuck between my bike frame and the sprocket.

Our last break of the day came in a small town called Cordova.  Their waterfront park was just before the actual town and a perfect place to stop. 

After the park we passed through Codova.  We were passing the library and it looks like they’d held some sort of street painting event. I’m sure the kids really got a kick out of that.

Codova and Port Byron are only about 5 miles away from each other.  There were two very happy riders when this sign came into view:


This is the bike trail where it came back to the riverfront park.  This picture is looking North.

Our car was waiting as promised.  We loaded ourselves up and drove about 30 minutes back to Jim’s house.

That evening we saw a great sunset and sat by the fire.


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

2 replies

  1. You two just amaze me. Even with every hurdle you just keep on going.

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