Ride 60: Give Peace A Chance

  Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides  

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Olive Branch, IL                     July 9, 2005

Since my book was published during the Iraq War, I couldn't resist making some sort of political statement (readers of my blog weren't surprised). The peace theme was appropriate because the ride starts in the town of Olive Branch, but I deliberately switched the order of the last two rides to make this one stand out as the last (geographically, this should have been Ride 59, not Ride 60). Both rides start in the park in Olive Branch, and I thought it was really cool that riding west was totally different terrain compared to riding east. This ride goes through the southwesternmost corner of Shawnee National Forest.

My photos from this ride are rather generic, but they give a general impression of what the ride is like. There are hills through wooded areas...

And flats in more open areas...

This climb goes up to a cemetery (on the right):

And this is a look back at the cemetery on top of the hill (the road shown above is on the right):

Obviously, this was another ride where I could have taken more photos. I could have made it much longer, too. I scouted the area extensively in December 2004, and I found several suitable routes. At one point, I was going to make it go all the way to Thebes and its historic courthouse, built in 1848. This was the seat of Alexander County until 1864 when Cairo took over the honors. Dred Scott was imprisoned here. The front of the courthouse is unassuming.

The back, which faces the Mississippi River from atop a bluff, looks more impressive.

By the time I included Thebes, the route was becoming a bit long and convoluted. I scaled back and ended up with the basic  route in the book. Adventurous cyclists can branch off from  this ride and find many other  quiet roads with challenging terrain (there is at least one killer hill in the area that I left out).  I also debated whether this  ride should go  clockwise or counter-clockwise. Try both!

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