Day 1 Saturday June 1
Check-in at Cape Girardeau, MO Arena building overnight site; ride to Trail of Tears State Park-29 miles
Those cyclists who arrive early in the check-in window on Day 1 will have time to ride our NEW check-in day route leading to Trail of Tears State Park north of Cape Girardeau. Get yourself and your bike "warmed up" while you enjoy commanding views of the Mississippi River, learn about the "Trail of Tears" route taken by the Cherokee Indians in the 1830's, and enjoy some beautiful scenery. Not ready to ride the first day? Alternately, and especially if you have your kids along, Cape Splash water park, just a short bike ride from the overnight site is a great place to cool off. There are also wineries and microbreweries you can visit, and dozens of restaurants from which to make your dinner selection. Information about all of these will be in your rider packet.
Day 5 Wednesday June 5
Columbus-Belmont battlefield-50 miles; G~R~A~V~E~L option-33 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. The gravel route is shorter and flatter with better river views.
Day 7 Friday June 7
Reelfoot Lake wildlife refuge-61 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 6 Thursday June 6
Drive yourself to the final stop in Dyersburg, Tennessee; then, ride to...
Full Throttle Saloon/Distillery Trimble, TN-45 miles; G~R~A~V~E~L option-41 miles
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! On the return to Dyersburg, there will be both road and an alternate gravel route.
Day 3 Monday June 3
Drive yourself to Hickman, Kentucky; then, ride to...
Discovery Park Center Union City, TN-34 miles
Arrive at the Fulton County High School east of town, your home for the next three nights. Since it's such a quick trip to the new site today, you'll still have time to ride 17 miles to Union City, TN, and take in the sights at the new Discovery Park science center there. Experience a simulation of the 1811-1812 earthquakes from which our tour takes its name. "Immerse" yourself in the underwater aquatic sights of Reelfoot Lake. Or you can just relax at the campsite and explore the offerings of Hickman! Evening meals here will be catered by Hub's restaurant. During your stay in Hickman, you'll also be able to tour the historic courthouse, including a trip all the way to the top to see the still functional 115 year old Seth Thomas clock. A visit to Kentucky Kernel Pecans is capped off with your being able to personally vacuum-pack your own souvenir can of "munchin' pecans". Adult beverages 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 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!
Bike tour cycling through 4 states in 7 days this June!
Day 2 Sunday June 2
Illinois' Shawnee National Forest, and Horseshoe Lake wildlife refuge
After taking time to "fuel up" with breakfast, take a tour through the southernmost portion of Shawnee National forest and cycle around Horseshoe Lake, 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. 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 emerge into a flat river floodplain and circle around the cypress swamps and wildlife of Horseshoe Lake. Return to the Arena Building in Cape across the Mississippi River bridge. We have arranged a wine tasting and dinner outing for Sunday evening at a wine house overlooking the Mississippi River. This was our most popular outing in 2018 and we expect it to fill up fast. You'll be able to sign up for this trip at check-in and until all spots are filled. There will be two departures; 4 PM and 6 PM. Each trip will have a limit of 50 on the provided shuttle buses. Or, you may drive yourself if you choose.
Cycling through the Midwest and Mississippi Valley!
Day 4 Tuesday June 4
New Madrid/ferry-56 miles; G~R~A~V~E~L option-55 miles
Get breakfast early and be at the ferry landing at 7 AM to catch the first voyage across the river to Missouri! Once there, you'll have a choice of paved or gravel routes through river bottom farmland with your destination being New Madrid, Missouri, namesake town for our tour. When you arrive, you can check out the earthquake and river heritage museum, and take a stroll out on the Mississippi River observation deck. There will be opportunities for lunch, and if you want a trip back to the Civil War era, take a tour of the Hunter-Dawson antebellum mansion, complete with its original furnishings. Return to Hickman by 3 PM for a chance to tour the local attractions there.