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Old 11-27-2011, 07:30 AM   #1
eldomike OP
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Southern Illinois

Been here about three years....haven't had a chance to ride much in what looks like some of the best riding in the state...are there any get togethers down here? Not much on here about the southern part of the state...would south of I64 be considered south Illinois?
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #2
dwthump
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You're In Luck!

Southern Illinois is a great area for ADV type riding. What area are you in exactly? I'm right along 64 in Fairview Heights and we have many ADV riders in the St. Louis area so we can always scare up a half dozen riders on any given riding day. I went on an ADV ride recently down in the Columbia flats and we ended up with 16 riders on all kinds of bikes. We even got stares from the Harley pirates when we all stopped for lunch in Prairie DuRocher and some of them actually came over and looked at everybody's bikes.

You generally have to go an hour or two south of 64 to get into the cool riding areas as it's mostly flat farmland. The exception is the river bottom roads and levees outside of Columbia. Miles and miles of country road twisties and gravel levee roads as far as you want to go. Cool bluffs also and limestone mines that you can sit in front of in the summer to cool off. The same type of riding continues south of Chester as far as the eyes can see.

Here's my favorites list:

Calhoun Co. north of Alton, "up the river road". Along with the cool river road bluff scenery there are ferries o' plenty on both the Miss. and Illinois rivers.

Murphysboro, south into the Shawnee Nat. Forest to Larue Pine Hills. Cool twisties and tons of gravel on forest service roads with a lot of low water bridges and crossings when it's wet out. Campgrounds are plentiful.

Bixby Mo. area. I know it's not So. Illinois but it's only a couple of hours away to some of the most diverse riding areas around. The twisties go on forever so it's very popular with all kinds of road bikes/crotch rockets. Lots of people meet in Potosi because right outside of town the cool roads start. I've only ridden the forest service roads a couple of times but they also go on forever. There is a gas station/deli in Bixby which is a meeting place for all bikes and you see every kind of bike and rider known to man there.

Hope this helps.

Darren
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:08 PM   #3
Bob Herr
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Fifty first state

For what it is worth I consider SoIL to be all south of I70 The most scenic riding is south of hwy 13 which runs west to east through Carbondale,Marion and Harrisburg. Lots of nice day trips to be had. western KY south ofCairo is also nice. Check out Columbus Belmont SP then run backroads to the Hickman ferry then back up to Cape Gireadu,MO and ride Hwy C to Chester,IL. Bob
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:50 AM   #4
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Just out of your driveway!

Heya EldoMike,
Right out of your driveway is the beginning of a fun ride. You can backroad to Kincaid Lake, cross Rt.149 at SandRidge and pick up the Big Muddy River levee. Continue south several miles to Rt3. There you can either cross Rt.3, and take the Mississippi River levee road or hook a left and head into the Pine Hills area. Either way its a fun ride, and not far from home. PM me if we get a warm(er) weekend day and i'll ride with you.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
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Great info folks, I'll check it out for sure....if anybody is ever in my area(8 miles south of Pinckneyville on 127)...you are welcome to stop by...Ross has a few times...I'm not always around but most times I am...PM me if ya want some contact info...
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:44 PM   #6
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An Old Newbie goes riding with an Old Oldie

Hi everyone, this is my first post, so I'm experimenting and probably making mistakes. I've learned so much poking around this website for the past few years, and it's become the first place I go to for information, but I've never felt I had anything to contribute. Well, that changed Saturday when I rode from my place north of Cape Girardeau to Equality, IL, to meet BigDog for breakfast at 8 a.m.-- a two-hour run for me. The Midwest had been enjoying a 5-day cool spell, and I was itching to get out before the typical July heat and humidity rolled in. I called BigDog late Friday evening and he was up for a ride and suggested we meet at the Red Onion in Equality, which I had never visited. I arrived on my '04 VStrom 650, which was wearing a fresh set of Anakee 3s, and Big Dog was waiting for me with his pretty Husky 650.




Looks like my first photo showed up, so I guess I'll continue with my little story! I haven't known BigDog personally for very long, but have known of him for years, as has everyone who spends time on this website. I e-mailed him in March while recovering from neck surgery, asking for advice on which motorcycle would be a good replacement for my DR200. I explained that I had worked my way down from a DR650, to a DR350, to a DR200 over a period of 20 years, and it seemed that with each weight reduction I had fewer crashes and thus more fun. But the last time I hauled my reliable little 200 out west I was wishing for a little more oomph and a lot less clutch-slipping. I also wanted more of a pack mule that could be equipped with luggage and could keep up with highway traffic. BigDog replied immediately and pointed me to lots of articles on this website and others, and soon I was shopping for a new WR250R. I found a 2013 at the right price at a great dealership in Herrin, IL, and BigDog invited me to ride it over to his place in Mt.Vernon when I picked it up. I explained that I was wearing a big ugly neck brace and the WR would be riding home on a trailer being pulled by a car that my wife Mary would be driving. "No matter," says BigDog, "come on over," and we did! We had a nice visit that chilly March afternoon in BigDog's "cicle-shed," and I picked up some valuable tips on how to equip my shiny new "cicle."

So now that you know how we met, I'll get on with my story: We walked into the Red Onion and BigDog knew everyone, which is nice, because we were both hungry, and the service is always better when you are friendly with the wait staff. We slurped down our coffees and savored our Western omelets while I listened in awe as BigDog enlightened me with his knowledge of local history. He started nearly every sentence with "have you been to the..." or "do you know about the...".

I spent my high school years in O'Fallon, IL and college in Carbondale, so I'm no stranger to these parts, but compared to BigDog, I'm a foreigner. We chatted for an hour or more and he had me wound up and rarin' to go! When we got out to the bikes he looked at my new tires and said, "You think you can ride gravel on them things?" (The last time we had ridden together-- in Missouri-- I had a knobbie on the front. These tires came highly recommended by another VStrom rider, but I had only about 100 miles on them and zero gravel time.) "We shall see," I replied.





Bingo! My second pic showed up.... this is encouraging! What you're looking at above is a "salt spring." In a cloud of dust I had followed BigDog down several miles of gravel roads and into a thick woods. He dismounted and ventured off into a swampy, muddy thicket-- the kind of place where mosquitoes hold reunions and chiggers wait in ambush. The salt spring was only a few paces into the swamp, and the story BigDog told was well worth the muddy boots and buzzing critters. My tour guide explained that salt was the original Illinois industry, and this area was headquarters! Salt water was bubbling up from the earth, and archaeologists claim that ancient civilizations and wildlife have been using it for thousands of years. A sad part of the story describes how slaves were an integral part of the industry after the white man arrived. There's lots of info on the Internet about this area if you are interested in history.




Our next stop was this reminder of another early Illinois industry. I was enjoying the ride, which was 90 percent gravel, and my tires were doing fine, except when the gravel was unnecessarily deep-- there were a few white-knuckle moments, but we managed to plow through. If you are going to ride much with BigDog, knobbies are recommended!





We passed many flowering trees like this one... neither of us knew what they are, but agreed they are beautiful. Any ideas?





My stomach was beginning to growl about the time we were getting glimpses of the Ohio River. We had been on many miles of twisting, hilly gravel and paved roads, and I was having a ball. Much of the southern tip of Illinois is forested, and much of that is national forest, so the scenery is sublime. BigDog steered us to Cave-in-Rock State Park, which is adjacent to the Ohio River Ferry, which contains a nice picnic and observation area. I saved the picnic table while BigDog went for hamburgers and sodas. Does it get any better than this? Stay tuned!



DigDog says, "Hey Steve, you ever been to the second-highest place in Illinois?" He didn't wait for an answer and all I had to do to get an Illinois version of a "Rocky Mountain High" was to follow the bouncing cloud of dust. BigDog took this picture of me (above) and I took this picture of him (below). Do you see any similarities?

OK, here's the deal: In March, I lived through a 4-hour surgery, rewarded myself with a new dual-sport, and needed a new helmet for the new adventures ahead. Comfort and visibility were my highest priorities. For weeks on end during my recovery I had been perusing the ride reports on this website and others, and had run across several positive comments about this style of Fly helmet. One day I received an e-mail from one of the Internet marketing firms, and they had Fly helmets on sale! I punched the "Shop Now" icon, and up popped the Fly page. I entered my size and what do you know?-- they had my size, but only in "radioactive yellow"! I figured BigDog wouldn't mind. When he saw me the first time wearing it he said, "Gosh, that's the ugliest helmet I've ever seen!!!"



Later that afternoon we pulled up at this little church in the middle of the forest. BigDog says, " I used to trail-ride these woods in the 70s, and this church was always left unlocked. Everything's inside just as they left it back then... no one's disturbed a thing. It's really neat!" And it was. The door was unlocked. The windows were not broken out. The walls and pews had not been defaced. It was peaceful, like a place of God should be.




The little cemetery behind was pristine... no broken headstones; no trash to detract from the peacefulness; only the sounds of the forest to set the mood. The only sadness were several headstones that read, "Daughter (or son) of (parents names). Born and Died (on the same date)." Those were very hard times.

We left the forest and the gravel and we eventually arrived at a paved state highway. It was 4 p.m. I told BigDog that if I turned toward Missouri I might get home around 6 p.m., in time to enjoy dinner with Mary. It was a sad moment-- I don't think either of us wanted the day to end. BigDog offered to show me Bell Smith Springs, "which was not far away." I asked for a rain check, and invited him to follow me home and play guitars all night. He smiled, and I knew he was considering it, when he turned north and I turned south. (If you ever have the opportunity to hear him play, don't miss it-- it's the one thing he does better than riding a motorcycle!)
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:02 AM   #7
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Superb first post Steve---------you've got it down pat.

You could pick better riding partners tho

I had to laugh when we got to morning breakfast------I told him to meet me at the "Green Onion"----------but it was the "Red Onion".

I didn't really head North after we parted Steve----I didn't get home till 10PM---poking around for stuff. Got to try out my super bright LED lights.

BigDog
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Old 07-16-2013, 07:16 AM   #8
Curiousteve
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Thanks Mark, that means a lot coming from the master! Home at 10 p.m.? Good grief, how do you do it? You wore my butt out, and I was home by 6:15! Well, I have an excuse I guess. Here's a pic of me taking delivery of my new WR in March... note the neck brace!

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Old 07-16-2013, 08:52 AM   #9
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More Southern Illinois stuff

Burden Falls in the winter----it's near Bell Smith Springs and there is a much bigger falls below this one---but it would have been treacherous to get to with the snow and ice.



And I got there in this-------my old "Bummer"



And my lovely wife



I think she put some "additive" in her coffee to keep her warm.






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Old 07-16-2013, 09:00 AM   #10
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This is about as far North in Illinois as you'll ever catch me riding.

But here is a neat old suspension bridge on the Kaskaskia river just South of Carlye Lake. It was the only way across the river back in the early 1900's--and is only wide enough for a wagon.





Holy crap Steve-------look at this picture I dug up at the old Salt well---when my KLR was almost brand new !!!!






I'd tell you where this bridge is------but I'd have to definitely kill ya.

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Old 07-16-2013, 09:04 AM   #11
Curiousteve
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Nice looking! (The wife, not the truck ) Well, the truck's not bad either, and the photos too! What's the story on the truck?
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:04 AM   #12
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Muddy Illinois------population......not too many.

I ran into a preacher standing in front of his church in Muddy, Illinois and we had the greatest talk. He told me the complete history of the town and explained to me what some of the buildings in town were.

This thing I just couldn't figure out---it's solid concrete--what is it?????

It is the only concret mine tipple in the whole world---it was abandoned many years ago. The preacher told me there use to be another one in Germany, but world war II destroyed it. Most tipples of the day were made out of wood--then steel.

It's a beautiful structure--it was posted no trespassing. I asked the preacher if I could walk up there---he told me I wasn't suppose to and if this one guy caught me he would run me off-----but he told me to tell him that the preacher said it was OK !!!

I think the preacher was late for service !!!





The new Post Office was across the street----a ugly old mobile home.

But look at this jewel !!! The preacher told me it was on historic record as being the smallest Post Office in the United States. All the little brass mail boxed were still inside----what a treasure.

Go too Muddy and poke around--stop and talk to anybody you find in this friendly little town and I'm sure you will be highly entertained.





In the little bitty town of New Burnside, Illinois is this old relic sitting along the side of the road. I use to know this guy.

Back in the 70's Doug Cross was a motorcycle jumper. He put on exhibitions all over but spend most of his time in a hospital.He was suppose to jump the Grand Canyon but never did.

I only seen Doug jump once---he didn't make the far ramp and his chest slammed into the ramp at about 70 mph---I don't know why it didn't kill him--but I heard he is alive and well still living in this town somewhere. The remnants of his old gas station are there---and there is this old trailer, old cars, old boats, old buildings---and 2 old gas pumps at $1.37 a gallon. Kind of a sad place.

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Old 07-16-2013, 09:09 AM   #13
Curiousteve
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You shoulda kept the KLR! How come you took me to the salt spring when it was muddy and mosquito infested? I owe you one!
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiousteve View Post
You shoulda kept the KLR! How come you took me to the salt spring when it was muddy and mosquito infested? I owe you one!
That was a test
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:16 AM   #15
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Great report! I'm from Urbana but I have to say you southern IL guys sure do have some sweet riding, I was down there last month for a bit of camping and hitting Little Egypt offroad park.

I even got a photo with the Iron Furnace too, hah:

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