Well the old group got together again for an early summer ride this year. After usual amounts of democratic input here on the forum we decided to ride to (and around) Starved Rock State Park in north central Illinois. This edition brought out 4 riders, including myself, on an unusually warm June Sunday. As the date approached, concerns about heavy downpours and thunderstorms began to develop, and sure enough, the morning of the ride started with lots of yellow and red on the radar. Via group text, the group decided to hold off for a few hours as the front was fast moving. By around 10am, we were all stands up. Myself, Aycaramba, and Home4Sale met near Chicago, in Elgin, IL., as SMP started his journey from the quad cities area.
Our first rendezvous in Elgin
Bikes above (in order left to right) belong to Home4Sale, me, and Aycaramba. Our group then began our journey south to meet up with SMP at Starved Rock State Park. It was a simple 2 road route. We took IL 25 south to Route 71, which heads straight to the park. We managed to stay dry and only missed one turn, not too bad. IL 25 is scenic, but quite slow and moderately congested. 71 feels more like a country highway and after crossing the Illinois River in Ottawa, it becomes an absolutely gorgeous road with moderate twisties, somewhat steep elevation changes, and beautiful scenery. Around lunch time we had made it to the park visitor center, where SMP had been patiently waiting.
Here we are in the parking lot
From left to right is Aycaramba, SMP, me, and Home4Sale
After catching up, discussing add ons and customizations, our bellies started doing the talking and we took a short ride up to Utica for lunch at Skoog's. Utica is a one street town, reminded me of the old west almost.
Unfortunately, none of us took any pictures of our meals, but there were no complaints. Over lunch, looking at the clock, we decided riding all the way down the river to Peoria and back might be a bit too ambitious. We decided on a partial journey down the west bank of the river, with a return back up on the east bank. Limited bridges in the area made the route planning easy and we set off with SMP in the lead. This leg of the ride started with some gorgeous scenery and sweeping turns, but ended up becoming flat and straight. No complaints could be heard though because we essentially had the road to ourselves. I'm pretty sure we saw more motorcycles than cars down there, including a few large Harley groups. We stopped in Lacon, IL for gas and a stretch. We all took this opportunity to begin route planning home. After a few minutes we had a plan and said our goodbyes to SMP, as he would be breaking off before the remaining 3 of us would stop again. Stands up again and heading north up the east bank of the river, horn honks and waves to SMP as the remaining 3 broke east on to 71. Myself, Aycaramba, and Home4Sale gassed up one final time in Granville, IL before slabbing it home.
We were all home well before dark, and I was admittedly pretty cooked. Hadn't had many miles under my belt yet at that point in the season, and in the words of SMP, "the interstate really wipes me out"
All in all the day was a success, it was hot and humid, but comfortable while moving. Next stop, the Driftless!