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The Finale

August 4, 2012

I took Saturday, the 28th, as my weekly day off in Marshall, Wisconsin. Then, on Sunday, July 29, I rode from Marshall toward Lake Geneva. Shortly after leaving Marshall, I came to the village of Lake Mills. It had some fabulous older homes. I have tried to discover on line why there were so many elaborate homes, but I had limited success. I think possibly the saw mill and grist mill historically located there supported the housing stock. Anyway, here’s a photo of one of the homes.


In Lake Mills, I saw a sign for Aztalan State Park and found out it was the location of a flat-topped ancient pyramid dated to about 900 AD. When I looked up a picture on line, I thought it looked just like the structures I had seen several years ago at Teotihuacan, near Mexico City. I wanted to ride over to see it but decided I needed to continue on toward Lake Geneva. So I resolved to come back to Aztalan when I return for my 50th graduation reunion at Ripon College in a few years.

In Lake Mills, I got on the Glacial Drumlin Trail. I learned that a “drumlin” is a large  mound of rocks left behind by a glacier. The trail was made of crushed limestone. Here’s a photo of a fancy underpass along the way.


As it turned out, what appeared to be carefully set river rock flanking the entrance was actually some sort of man-made substance, as you can see from this close up-note the gray paint on the edges of the “stones” as well as the seams through their centers.  I was amazed.


I left the Glacial Drumlin Trail in Sullivan and proceeded via road shoulders to Palmyra, Elkhorn, and then Lake Geneva.
I saw some really unusual cattle along the way. They were black with a wide belt of white around their “waists.” When I researched them on line, I found out they are called Belted Galloways. They are fairly rare in the US. They came originally from Scotland and are considered excellent beef cattle. They grow a heavy double coat in the winter that helps them tolerate the cold, so I imagine they are a good breed for Wisconsin.  Anyway, here are the cattle.


At about 7:30 the evening of the 29th, I rode into Lake Geneva. After passing the crowded downtown waterfront, I rode by some incredible mansions and finally reached the Geneva Inn.

This was the view from the dining room the next morning as we ate breakfast and prepared for the final day’s ride from Lake Geneva to Glen Ellyn, Illinois.


I entered Illinois on the Illinois Prairie Trail. From Genoa, Wisconsin, a crushed limestone trail leads to the Prairie Trail. There was no fancy sign announcing the border crossing on the trail. One moment, I was in Wisconsin and the next in Illinois with no particular fanfare. But I knew I was in Illinois when the trail crossed a road and I saw this road sign.


Soon, the trail became a paved path that was excellent riding.  Near the city of McHenry, I passed a woman stopped on the trail. I struck up a conversation with her, explaining that this was the last day of my six-week ride from Seattle, and she began to ride along with me. It turned out she was an angel. Her name was Andrea. As we rode, she mentioned that my back tire seemed low. She said she would show me a good bike shop. She led me on a complicated route through the streets of McHenry to Bike Haven on Pearl Street. She even gave me a map of how to get back on the trail. What a kind person. I’d have been in a real pickle without her!

At Bike Haven, they efficiently repaired my tire, which by that time was totally flat, gave me cold water, and provided a map of the whole bike trail system in the Chicago area, which came in quite handy.

As I proceeded along, I got lost in Elgin, where a detour made it difficult to find the point where the Illinois Prairie Path separated from the Fox River Trail. I hailed a passing bicyclist and asked for directions. His name was Bruce. He offered to show me the way.

As we rode, I explained where I had started riding six weeks earlier and that this was my last day. He explained that, years earlier, as a boy scout, he had actually helped build part of the trail. (Thanks, Bruce!) These days, he said, he used the trail to commute 19 miles to work. Before he turned onto a different trail to go to his home in St. Charles, he gave me excellent directions through the last few turns to reach the Prairie Path.

Not far onto the Prairie Path, the riding surface changed back to crushed limestone. I rode on further, finally entering DuPage County, where Glen Ellyn, my sister’s home town and my ultimate destination, is located.


I began to cry as I passed this sign. I called my sister to tell her where I was and then called my son, Bill Jr., who lives with mental illness and who provided the inspiration for this ride to raise funds for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Bill said he couldn’t figure out how, at almost 70, I had found the strength to ride 2800 miles. Little did he know that he helped me. All along the way, in every difficult spot, I thought of him and all he has so bravely faced and overcome and it helped me keep on going.

This was the scene as I reached where the trail intersected Park Street in Glen Ellyn, the place where my sister and I agreed to meet. What a colorful and welcome celebration it was, with signs, flags, balloons and all.


That’s my brother-in-law, Emerson Lacey, my sister, Martha Lacey, me, my dear friend Malarkey Wall, who drove my rental car sag wagon for the final week of the ride, and my dear friend and classmate from Ripon College, Mary Kroening.

So, that’s the tale of my ride. It was hard work but a wonderful adventure.


From → Ride Posts

  1. Roberta Moore permalink

    You are astonishing and this accomplishment says so much about your strength and dedication. I am so glad that you are safe and in relatively one piece. Your journey was significant in so many ways and is the physical effort of a lifetime! I admire you for choosing it to represent the struggle that so many people have with mental health. We will be glad to see you at home next door. I will even weed your verge area on the street. Brian O’Brian was terrified that your milkweed would blossom and spread! Congratulations.

    • It was good to get home today and to see you on my arrival! Those weeds are going to be a new challenge for me to face!

  2. Mary Kroening permalink

    Welcome home! It was wonderful seeing you and hearing all about your amazing adventure in person. Take care of yourself as well as those weeds – they don’t stand a chance with you on the job! Love to you, Bill, and Malarkey.

    • Thanks for everything you did. It was great to see you and John. I have been keeping up with the other people from Cycle America who are in week 7 of their ride all the way to Boston. It makes me sooo happy to be back in my comfy home!

  3. Martha Lacey permalink

    Those people in the covered wagons who trudged across our young nation have nothing on you. A 2800 mile bike ride just for the love of your child is a magnificent achievement. Congratulations. You did it!!!! Loved seeing you and the Malarkey man. It’s pretty quiet around here today.

  4. Thanks for making the end of the trip so comfortable! The party was wonderful. It was so fun to see all the family.

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