facebook twitter pinterest email

Weekend Bike Trip to Elsah IL – Day 2

Weekend Bike Trip to Elsah IL – Day 2

We had a fun time visiting with my brother, Mike, and wife, Cherie, on Saturday evening.  Delicious dinner at the Mississippi Half Step Restaurant in Grafton and then beers and conversation back at the B&B.  Even after dark it was too hot to sit out on the screened in porch so we just stayed in our room.  We all turned in early.  Craig and I were pretty tired after our 43 mile ride in the heat that day.

Sunday breakfast was at 9am and we packed up our bikes and took off immediately afterwards.  It was going to be another hot day and we were leaving almost three hours later than the day before.  Our route today was about a mile longer than Saturday’s at 44 miles but that included a long break toward the end on the Metrolink.  Virtually the ENTIRE journey was on bike trails today.  No cars.  YAY!!  Here’s our route:


View Elsah to Home in a larger map

The first section of the day was on the Sam Vadalabene Trail along the Great River Road, Highway 100.  It’s such a beautiful ride with the Mississippi River to our right and the scenic bluffs towering above us on the left.  There was a breeze today and clouds so the temperature was much more bearable than the day before.  Our trek along the SV Trail was delightfully uneventful… past the giant Piasa Bird painted onto the bluff, through Alton and then onto the MCT Confluence Trail.

Ready to head for home in the morning.  The Maple Leaf Cottage Inn is behind us.

Ready to head for home in the morning. The Maple Leaf Cottage Inn is behind us.

The Confluence Trail snakes along the top of a levy beside the Mississippi River and then the Chain of Rocks Canal.  It is mostly through unpopulated areas and usually a quiet, carefree ride.  A point of interest along the way is the Lewis & Clark center with its unusual twin viewing towers and an 18th century fort replica.  We took a break there and I took off my shoes and cooled off in the newly installed fountain.

We left the Confluence Trail to cross over the one way bridge to Chouteau Island.  Another forgotten landscape similar to the airport buyout area from the day before.  No houses or traffic.  Just roads and a nice delightfully quiet ride.  The bridge to Chouteau Island is quite interesting.  It is a single lane with a traffic light on either side to ensure only one direction of traffic crosses at a time.  Although it’s almost unnecessary as there’s never any traffic.   The bridge road surface consists of metal girders attached in a tight grid.  The car tires can drive over it but you can look through it and see the canal below.  It’s unnerving at first but fascinating.  One time a barge passed underneath the bridge while we were crossing and we stopped to stand in the middle of the bridge and watch as the barge cruised by directly below us.  The bridge also includes a dedicated bike lane along one side where metal plates have been placed on top of the metal grid (thank goodness for that) to allow cyclists to ride across.

Cooling down in the water fountain at the Lewis & Clark Center.

Cooling down in the water fountain at the Lewis & Clark Center.

Across Chouteau Island is another more well known and even more fascinating bridge.  Built in 1929, The Chain of Rocks Bridge was originally part of famous Route 66 and is very rightly included in the National Register of Historic Places.  The old decaying bridge closed to traffic many years ago and seemed destined to be demolished until a miracle happened in 1998 when it was leased to Trailnet and converted into a walking / biking trail across the river.  The bridge is a mile long with an unusual bend in the middle.  Trailnet has added benches, an antique fire engine and viewing station to the bridge from which you can view two mysterious neighboring water intake buildings.  We love cycling across this spectacular piece of history and usually stop in the middle for a water and snack break.

The Missouri end of the bridge connects to the Riverfront Trail which we ride for the entire eleven mile length to its end at the base of the Arch in downtown St. Louis. This is an interesting trail mostly atop the levy and enveloped between the Mississippi River and old river industrial territory.  Most people traveling through the area in their cars never see this part of St. Louis, the forgotten fields of old cranes and pipes and mysterious metal monstrosities rusting in the sun along the river.  The trail is fastidiously maintained and it is almost surreal to pedal along this strange wasteland.  The trail ends in quirky “Rootwad Park” featuring a vividly colored floodwall mural and weird metal and concrete sculptures of Bob Cassily (the mastermind behind the St. Louis City Museum).

Rootwad Park

Rootwad Park

We cycled a few blocks downtown to our favorite city restaurant, Tigins, as we always do and enjoyed a fantastic late lunch.  Remembering my woozy final four miles yesterday, I wisely decided to forego my usual Guinness and had a Sprite instead.  Of all the rotten luck, today happened to be the day that the infamous “Ride of the Century” riders decided to invade downtown St. Louis.  As we sat on Tigin’s patio we were serenaded by the ear splitting thunder of hundreds of crotch rocket motorcyclists as they careened up and down the city streets, through every red light they could find, between lines of cars, and even on the sidewalks.  I witnessed a lot of dangerous foolhardy behavior.  I’m surprised only two motorcyclists were killed during the event this year.  Shameful and stupid.  We were happy to get out of there.

The Lacledes Landing Metrolink Station is located inside historic Eades Bridge.

The Lacledes Landing Metrolink Station is located inside historic Eades Bridge.

After lunch we cycled the short distance (after making sure the coast was clear of idiot motorcyclists) to the Lacledes Landing Metrolink station and enjoyed the 30 minute ride back to our neck of the woods in Ferguson.  Our house is a short five mile cycle from the UMSL North Station.  Day is done and another successful FUN weekend bike trip is in the books!

<<– WEEKEND BIKE TRIP TO ELSAH DAY 1

Got somethin' to say? Leave a comment!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: