Saturday, May 10, 2008

Riding to the Driftless Zone (Northwest Illinois)

The far corner of Northwest Illinois is part of the "Driftless Zone". The term "driftless" means a lack of glacial drift. This area of Illinois has many hills and exposed rock because it was not covered by glaciers in the most recent ice ages. Unlike the rest of Northern Illinois which is flat, the Northwest corner of Illinois has some pretty ncie scenery, elevation changes, bluffs and twisty roads.

I have a few good ways to get to the west side of Illinois, today we took the route through Cherry Valley

Lots of blooming going on here

RT 20 heading west

Elizabeth Scales Mound Road

Stagecoach Trail

We left the house around 8AM, it was a bit chilly but not too bad with the Gerbing heated liner. It was a sunny morning when we left but a few hours in to the ride the skies were turning dark, full of clouds that were threatening to rain on us. We were riding west and were getting closer to the rain that was heading our direction but I didn’t expect the rain to be this close. We checked the weather on Mike’s phone and all they were showing were clouds. We continued west arriving in Galena, IL a little after 12:00PM. We were planning on having lunch here and checking out the town. There is lots to see here in Galena, so that is going to be a separate post. Now back to the riding.

I have to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time riding in Illinois. I figure if I have the whole day to ride I might as well head up to Wisconsin where there are more road choices and more curves. Because of that I have really not explored the area around Galena that much. Going to Galena usually means taking RT 20 then getting on Elizabeth Scales Mound Road, one of my favorites, and Stagecoach Trial, everyone’s favorite. I usually ride past Galena and come back some other way.

Good roads around Galena; Elizabeth Scales Mound Rd, Stagecoach Trail and Blackjack Road

Since Galena was the reason we rode out here today and we were not going to ride any further west, I was really excited to finally be able to ride some roads around here.

Heading out of Galena we took Blackjack Road, a road that I’ve heard some people rave about. Then we took Hanover Road to Scenic Ridge Road, a road that I’ve been curious about for a while. Scenic Ridge Road is also called Derinda Road in the next county.

Blackjack Road to Hanover Road to Derinda Road which becomes the Scenic Ridge Road

Blackjack had some awesome views, at one point we were way up high on a ridge and we could see the Mississippi River in the distance. The road conditions changed a lot. It was narrow at times, most of the time with no center stripe and had some really bad pavement in many places. Also there were many blind turns and hills, so for me it was more of a sight-seeing road, not a road I’d want to rail on. It had great views, better then any other road today. Scenic Ridge Road was exactly my type of road though, smooth pavement, center stripe, many curves posted at 35-45MPH. There were even a couple of “s” curves on here.

Blackjack Road, some of the better pavement

Old Sears building on Blackjack Road

More Blackjack Road without the center stripe

This section of Blackjack Road was weird, looked like it flooded recently

Hanover Road was very similar to Blackjack Road

Turning from Hanover Road to Derinda Road which turns in to Scenic Ridge Road south of here

Derinda Road

Flowing curves on Scenic Ridge Road

Scenic Ridge Road

The end of Scenic Ridge Road is in Savanna, the road twists down in to town

You can see the Mississippi River through the trees at the end of Scenic Ridge Road

Scenic Ridge Road was so much fun, that when we got to Savanna we decided to turn around and ride it again. There really wasn’t a lot of traffic here either, which was nice considering there is always traffic near Galena on the weekend.

Derinda Road

An "S" curve on Derinda Road

Scenic Ridge Road took us back to RT 20 which we took pretty much all the way back to Chicagoland arriving home in the early evening.

Our entire route to Galena and back was 350 miles

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