SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois’ Mother Road, historic Route 66 running from Chicago to the Missouri border, beckons trailblazers on two wheels.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) invites bicyclists to ride sections of the new Route 66 Trail in a single day, and gather at one of six locations along the trail at noon on Saturday, June 2 to celebrate their collective efforts to blaze the trail for future riders.
“This will be a major event for bicyclists and the towns all along Route 66 in Illinois,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. “Once the major highway from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles, Route 66 has since been eclipsed by interstate highways on which travelers bypass the small towns along the way with their own special history and local flavor. This event will help visitors sample that history and flavor once again.”
The IDNR, the League of Illinois Bicyclists (LIB) and the Route 66 Trail Executive Council are co-sponsoring the event. Bicyclists will travel one of 13 sections of the Route 66 Trail on June 2, covering the entire distance from downtown Chicago – the route’s starting point – to the Mississippi River near St. Louis. Bicyclists can ride a whole segment or a part of a segment, starting anywhere along the route. Participants can select their own starting times to arrive in the towns at noon. The charted individual segments range from 15-50 miles.
Bicyclists will converge on six towns – Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington, Springfield, Staunton and Edwardsville. Each of the six communities will be hosting noon time ceremonies on June 2 highlighting the Route 66 Trail and related projects. Early registrants will receive free t-shirts commemorating the trail-blazing ride.
“Bicycling the Route 66 Trail gives riders the chance to recapture a bit of the past in an enjoyable, healthy way while imagining what the route was like during its heyday,” said Ed Barsotti, executive director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists. “Our hope is that thousands of bicyclists and others will follow, traveling the Route 66 Trail for exhilarating and nostalgic rides.”
“The trail breaking ride is a chance to sample what we believe will be a great recreational and educational experience for bicyclists at all levels from local recreational riders to cross-country tourists,” said Donovan Gardner, chair of the Route 66 Trail Executive Council.
For more information on the event, the 13 routes and free registration check the LIB website at www.bikelib.org/route66/. Persons who may not want to ride on the Route 66 Trail on June 2 but wish to participate can also check the web site for volunteer opportunity details.