ITINERARY-This is a sample. Watch for 2020 itinerary this fall!
Day 1 Saturday June 1
Check-in at Cape Girardeau, Missouri Arena building overnight site 11 AM-4 PM; explore the Cape Girardeau community
Numerous microbreweries downtown and wineries just outside town; a riverfront casino, and museums are just a few things to check out. Visitor's Bureau will have information and local residents on hand to help you choose. And Cape Splash water park, just a short bike ride from the overnight site is a great place to cool off. There are dozens of restaurants from which to make your dinner selection.
Day 2 Sunday June 2
Illinois' Shawnee National Forest-51 miles round trip
After taking time to "fuel up" with breakfast, take a tour through the southernmost portion of Shawnee National forest, keeping an eye out for the wildlife. The route will first take you by the historic 170 year old Thebes courthouse, with a commanding elevated view of the Mississippi River. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, legend has it that the jail in the basement of the building once briefly housed Dred Scott. Ride to the small village of Olive Branch for a rest stop, and drop in at the Kozy Korner cafe for lunch. You'll then enter the deep and occasionally hilly backroads of the Shawnee National forest. After several miles of shady and sometimes challenging terrain, you'll reach your final rest stop. Here you can prepare for the trip back across the Mississippi River bridge to the Arena Building. We have arranged a wine tasting and dinner outing for Sunday evening at a wine house overlooking the Mississippi River. You'll be able to sign up for this trip at check-in until all spots are filled. This was our most popular outing in 2018 and we expect it to fill up fast. There will be two departures; 4 PM and 6 PM. Each trip will have a limit of 24 on the provided shuttle buses. Or, you may drive yourself if you choose.
Cycling through the Midwest and Mississippi Valley.
Day 5 Wednesday June 5
Columbus-Belmont battlefield-49 miles
An "out and back" route northward to one of Kentucky's most popular state historic sites, location of one of the earliest battles of the Civil War. Nicknamed "The Gibraltar of the West" for its location on the river bluffs, you'll be able to tour a museum, see trenches where the troops took cover, and examine the huge anchor chain used to block boats travelling downriver, as well as many other artifacts. Check out the spectacular view of the Mississippi River, highlighting the strategic significance of the site. For lunch, there is a snack bar in the park, or a restaurant you'll pass by in the tiny hamlet of Columbus. This paved route has a couple of moderate hills just outside the park entrance.
Day 7 Friday June 7
Reelfoot Lake wildlife refuge-65 miles
As you head north from the Dyer County fairgrounds, we'll return to cycle along the very scenic Bluff Road for the first time since 2015! You'll pass through the lakeside Spicer Park rest stop in Samburg, with outstanding views of Reelfoot Lake, and continue along Lakeside Drive, dotted with summer fishing and vacation cabins and homes. Several restaurants will beckon to you for lunch. The Boathouse in Samburg and Blue Bank resort restaurant both have lakeside decks. You'll be able to stop in at the state park visitor center, browse the exhibits on the great earthquakes and area wildlife, or have fun paddling through the cypress trees in a canoe or kayak! After lunch you return to Dyersburg through mostly flat river floodplain. Today's route takes you very close to or even directly over the New Madrid Fault in several places, so be prepared to hold on to your helmet!!
Day 4 Tuesday June 4
DIscovery Park Science Center-Union City, Tennessee-40 miles round trip
Cycle a 40 mile round-trip course to Union City, Tennessee and check out the new Discovery Park Science Center there. It's like a "mini-Epcot" right here in the Heartland! View exhibits on the wildlife of the area, see the aquatic life that populates Reelfoot Lake in the aquarium, and check out the "earthquake simulator" which lets you feel what it might have been like to experience the great New Madrid earthquakes of the early 1800's.
Day 6 Thursday June 6
Drive yourself to the final stop in Dyersburg, Tennessee; then, ride to...
Full Throttle Saloon/Distillery Trimble, TN-46 miles round-trip
After you've arrived at the Dyer County fairgrounds and set up your camp, today's route will take you to the small town of Trimble, Tennessee, now home to the Full Throttle Saloon and Distillery. Here, if you're so inclined, you can taste real hill country moonshine and some Tennessee whiskey! And stop by the diner for some lunch. On the return to Dyersburg, you'll ride through some of the most scenic areas of the week!
Day 3 Monday June 3
Drive yourself to Hickman, Kentucky; then-cycle to "Sassafras Ridge"-31 miles
Arrive at the Fulton County High School east of town, your home for the next three nights. Set up your outdoor or indoor campsite, then cycle through the river flood plain west of town, imagining what the area was like during the hustle and bustle of the steamboat era over 150 years ago, and comparing that with the modern highly productive farms that now are the area's primary industry. Your rest stop on this loop will be at the historic Sassafras Ridge Baptist church, all that remains of a once thriving rural farm community.
From 2-5 PM Monday afternoon, you'll also be able to tour the historic courthouse, including a trip all the way to the top to see the 115 year old, one of four still functioning, Seth Thomas bell tower clocks. A visit to Kentucky Kernel Pecans is highlighted with your being able to personally vacuum-pack your own souvenir can of "munchin' pecans". Adult beverages and appetizers will be offered each afternoon in the air-conditioned confines of Hub's Restaurant, while for those with a sweet tooth, a local family offers a tour of their historic period home capped off with a sampling of freshly made homemade cakes! As the below photo shows, in 2018, coconut cake was the most popular!
Bicycle tour through 4 states in 7 days June 2020!