Finally, my first proper ride in the US of A! I’ve done a little bit of exploring of the local area, but nothing serious on Killer Croc (or Crocubot as some are calling it, hilarious!). I joined the website, ADVrider and was able to meet up with some people in the area on a ride. The destination? Oblong, Illinois. The plan? To ride there from my place, camp for two nights and bloody ride!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll see that I have been planning for a camping trip on the bike. I’ve kept it basic on the bike, packing my tent, clothes in a dry bag, some gopro gear, cooking equipment and set off. Yep, no sleeping bag or mat required here people, hard as nails!
The ride down was pretty uneventful. I was able to find a couple of cheeky gravel roads, but it was mostly boring country roads in grid pattern form. But hey, I was just happy to be on the road!
I arrived at the camp site in Oblong and found that everyone was much more prepared than me. Hey, I’m keeping it minimalist, I had everything I needed and I was just on the bike. The campground was fantastic and is put on by the town. Its $10 a night and that includes power, toilets and showers. Bargain. We settled in for the night to get an early start in the morning.
We were lucky that one of the lads had all the GPS maps for the area. The decent roads are pretty hidden away, if you didn’t know they were there, you probably wouldn’t find them. The riding was a mixture of country roads, gravel, some dirt, green lanes, creek crossings and mud. It was really wet in some of the spots, the day before there had been a bit of rain.
There certainly weren’t any technical spots, but some of the creek crossings were bloody muddy. There were a couple of sections that were a hard slog on the big KLR. You know when it’s wet and there’s a layer of muddy ”icing” on top that is just stupidly slippery? Yeah, there was some of that. Plus, 200kg’s of bike with dual sport tyres definitely makes for a tough time in the wet. I loved it!
We had lunch at a place called Moonshine. Yep, just like the hillbilly drink. They have a store there that has a cult following. It’s a great spot to grab a burger and drink, the burgers really hit the spot.
Continuing on the ride, we found some nice creek and river areas. For me there were three highlights in particular. First was being able to ride along the Wabash River. Sand riding is just a blast to me. Second up was another part of the river where you can ride on the rocks….well I’m pretty sure it was the same river! While not super technical, there was a good step up when riding up and down to get to it. Last was a creek bed you can ride in. There is a spot where people have etched their names in the rock, plus it was just super pretty.
Over the whole day, I think we roughly covered about 230 miles. It was a big day of riding and I am not bike fit at all! Plus, I have an old man back which doesn’t help.
After a big day of riding, we headed back to the camp site. The legends I was camping with put on burgers both nights! My 2 minute noodles live to fight another day. Oh, it’s worth mentioning, if you’re a beer snob like me, take your own. We went to the local liquor store and I asked if they had any IPA’s. I have never seen a woman so confused in my life. I grabbed some Budweiser, tasted like horse piss, do not recommend.
Unfortunately, the rain settled in big time over night. At bed time it started to pour down. My $24 Walmart tent got a proper work out. The result? It did well! I stayed dry and happy. The rain continued all night and morning. We decided to pull the pin on the days riding, it was too wet. I packed up (my tent fit back in the bag easy BTW, score!) and headed home.
Lucky we didn’t ride that morning. I tried my best to find the trails, but most of the roads were flooded and too deep to pass. I had to ride around about 6 different roads till I could find one that was shallow enough to cross! About halfway through the ride things cleared up nicely and I was able to dry off.
Overall, it was a good ride. Not as technical or off road orientated as I like, but it’s probably the best we have nearby in central Illinois. The KLR performed a LOT better off road than I thought it would. Its weight is the main limiting factor, but once modded like mine, this baby can go places.
What kind of bike could you do the ride on? I think any adventure bike could do it; it was pretty easy riding with some mildly tricky bits thrown in, and that was mainly because of the weather!
Thanks for reading everyone. I’ve got tons more content to work on so keep you eyes out for that. Make sure you follow me on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram too. And watch the video! Keep it OnTheBackWheel ppl…