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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Painting the highway: Tour de Coal

Today, Jim Marcacci and I painted arrows on the route for Saturday's Tour de Coal in Benld, Ill.

The good news about the ride: We already have more pre-registered riders for the event than we had for the entire event last year. It's good to know that people are returning to the ride and telling others about it. The event is well-supported by the communities of Benld and Gillespie and neighboring smaller towns and area law-enforcement agencies.

The bad news: Gillespie Township picked this week to put new oil and chip on many of its roads. One of the frustrating things that bicycle ride leaders in rural parts of Illinois face is the unpredictable way township highway departments decide when to do the work. Unfortunately, it's too late to do a major reroute of the course, so we will have to deal with it.

The affected areas of the route are many roads west of Illinois Route 4 and north of Illinois Route 138. The rest of the roads on the 15-, 30- and 63-mile routes are in pretty good shape.

Here's some tips for riding on freshly oil-and-chipped roads that appeared in an August newsletter of the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society:
  • Ride as far to the right as safely possible, most likely on a path that has been at least partly smoothed by automobile traffic.
  • In case of approaching cars, slow down in case you have to move onto loose gravel so cars can get around you.
  • Watch out for small piles of loose gravel that go across the road. That's where the trucks dumped the last of their loads.
  • Be exceptionally careful at intersections, especially those where you will be turning, because loose gravel tends to accumulate there.
We hope the roadwork doesn't discourage you from coming to the Tour de Coal. People in the Benld-Gillespie area really work hard to make the ride a success, so come over and share in the area's rich history and coal mining heritage. The route goes near more than 20 inactive and active coal mines, plus the 63-mile route goes on an old alignment of Route 66 between Staunton and Mount Olive and visits the Mother Jones Monument in Mount Olive.

Benld is located about halfway between St. Louis and Springfield, Ill. Registration is from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday at Benld Elementary School, but you can save money by pre-registering for the ride before 11:59 p.m. Thursday. Below is a link to a map on how to get there:


[ Yahoo! Maps ]

Directions to
100 E Dorsey St, Benld, IL 62009

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