Day 9, Pilgrim Spokes – Southwestern Illinois

A Little Drizzle, a Little Misery, Some Perspective

My night in the Butler’s Quarters at the Beall Mansion was delightful, and my next day begins with a drizzly ride down the Great River Trail along the Mississippi as I leave Alton and begin my journey through Illinois. Eventually I find my way along several miles of the Madison County Transit Nickel Plate Trail through Edwardsville.

The morning drizzle is light, but continues to get heavier all the way to Alhambra, where I transition from the trail over to the highway for the final miles of the day. It’s a miserable ride though the cold rain, making my room at the B&B in Greenville even more inviting.

This chapter in Pilgrim Spokes allowed me to do a little storytelling of a winter night in the mountains of Arkansas from years ago, when Bubba and me got our 18-wheeler stuck high on a mountain and survived freezing rain and a long walk out. I also explore that whole “the darkness defines the light” thing, or maybe something more like “it’s only through misery that we can truly appreciate joy.”

Best summed up, I suppose, in this quote that I include in the book:

The lust for comfort murders the passions of the soul.  ~Khalil Gibran

A cross-country bicycle adventure is the canvas for this tale of discovery along the winding backroads of America’s heartland. The second book in the “Cycling Reflections” series, Pilgrim Spokes tells the story of the eastern half of the trans-American trek, continuing the saga begun in Neil’s award-winning previous book—Pilgrim Wheels—which reconnoiters the western half of the journey.

More than just a journal of a bike ride across the country, Hanson’s delightful and beautifully written story takes the reader on an engaging pilgrimage of observation and reflection. Often hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always inspiring, it’s a must-read adventure that will stir your soul.

Three Top Images From The Day

Leaving the Alton Bridge behind, riding along the Great River Trail
Long straight miles along the Madison County Transit Nickel Plate Trail
Another beautiful midwestern farmstead along the trail, this one in the drizzle of a rainy day.