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Sports & Recreation

Best Rural Bicycle Ride 

Monroe and Randolph Counties, Ill.

Monroe and Randolph counties in Illinois offer top-notch rides through farmland on roads with so little traffic they may as well be bicycle paths. Although Monroe County farmers have a reputation for disliking bicyclists, serious run-ins aren't common. Be on your best behavior and ride professionally. A good 40-mile ride (which has been marked with pink directional arrows painted on the pavement by group-ride organizers so you can't get lost) begins in Waterloo, the Monroe County seat. Take Highway 3 north out of town to Country Club, where you'll turn right, and then left when you get to Gilmore Lake. The route jogs east on Keim and into Randolph County after a few miles, then heads north again on Bohleysville Road, which takes you into Millstadt, the halfway point and the first chance you'll get to buy snacks or beverages. Head east out of town on Madison until you get to Roachtown Road, where you'll turn south and begin the trek back to the starting point. The road changes names a few times (watch for those directional arrows) before it reaches Paderborn. Having traveled 30 miles, you may want to stretch your legs and buy refreshments at the Knotty Pines Tavern before making the final push back to Waterloo. If you're not sure of the way back, ask at the tavern. Come prepared with plenty of food and drink. Outside of Millstadt and Waterloo, there aren't any grocery stores on this route, nor are there many houses where you can ask to fill your water bottle. And that's the point: to get away from it all.

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