August 28, 2010
At 7:30 a.m. I head south into a magnificent Wisconsin morning. The sun is peering over my left shoulder and the moon is high in the sky on my right. I am cycling through picturesque farmland on lazy back roads. The corn is tall and ready to be harvested. Soybean fields that were once a brilliant green are turning a yellow buff color. Soon the golden leaves will fall off and the dry beans will be gathered.
I turn onto Honey Creek Road. What a delightful name. Yellow butterflies flit and float through fields of colorful wildflowers. While munching sweet grasses, curious brown cows peek at me through wire fences. Their tails move back and forth nonstop as they swat pesky flies. I see maple trees laced with a hint of red, signifying that fall is approaching.
Steep rolling hills monopolize the landscape. I call them drumlin hills. Some are one long, steep climb. Others are two or three short climbs with tiny flat stretches thrown in. Whichever variety, they all have magnificent views at the top followed by an exhilarating descent.
My frolic through the Wisconsin farmland comes to an end when I enter the small town of Genoa City. It is time to get on the Prairie Trail. The trail, an old Chicago and Northwestern rail line, is a 28-mile route starting just 0.8-miles from the Wisconsin-Illinois boarder in Genoa City, Wisconsin, and ending in Algonquin, Illinois.
I jump on the trail at 11 a.m. and before I can blink, I cross over into our eighth state, Illinois. A bunny darts out in front of me than high-tails it down the crushed stone path. I cross several bridges under a long canopy of trees before entering a stunning prairie landscape.
The prairie is overflowing with very tall colorful grasses. Yellow, purple, golden brown and red grasses sway in the breeze. Wildflowers painted in purple, blue, white and yellow hues highlight the colorful prairie portrait. It is a remarkable sight.
At mile 8, the surface switches to smooth asphalt. I pedal by tall cornfields and elevated railroad tracks. The trail rolls through Whispering Oaks Park in McHenry, and curves up hilly terrain in Sterne’s Wood. We arrive in the town of Crystal Lake the destination for our layover day.