Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lake Wedington Loop #1

Today, my friend Jess and I decided to take advantage of the great weather and go on a bike ride (see map below). Neither of us are avid cyclists, but we like to pretend we are in great shape and can do pretty much anything (yes this attitude has gotten us into some trouble in the past).
After packing swimsuits and a frisbee (neither of which ended up being used), we struck out for Lake Wedington without really doing much research. It turns out the lake is 17 miles west of town and that you if you take the seemingly logical choice of Wedington Dr. to get there, you have some pretty nasty hills in the way. We added an unnecessary hill, by initially deciding to take MLK west and then quickly deciding that road was too nasty and deciding to head north to Wedington Dr.

Wedington Dr. is a large road with little shade for most of the way. In the more developed areas, it does have a sidewalk and in places a nice wide bike path. After about 8 miles, the large relatively flat road begins to curve up and down some hills. A couple of the downhill sections were so great (long and steep) that we decided to find a different way home.

We arrived at the lake around 5:00 having taken a little over 1.5 hrs to get out there. At this point we admitted to ourselves that we were already pretty pooped and probably didn't have the time or energy to swim or throw a frisbee given that sunset is around 7:00 these days. So after exploring the cabins, lodge, swimming area, and campground we headed back towards Fayetteville.

This time, we took a very different route and it ended up being a lot better and also worse in places. The southern section of the loop shown on the map is much flatter, and for most of the way it is more scenic and less busy. All that comes to a nasty, screeching halt when you reach Main St./MLK Blvd. There is a bike lane for a bit in Farmington, and then ironically, around the time you see the "Fayetteville: Bike Friendly City" sign, there is no bike lane and no decent sidewalk. Needless to say, the last five miles on MLK were not fun. If you live in the northern part of Fayetteville, you might change the route a bit and take Double Springs Rd. or Broyles St. north back to Wedington Dr. for the final leg back into town.

Has anyone else done this ride? Any suggestions?
Here is another Lake Wedington Route.

More details on the flatter, more scenic route for those who are interested and/or not Google Maps savvy:
On the way back, we turned just past the chicken houses onto Viney Grove/Co. Rd. 37. We followed this road through a pastoral valley carved by the headwaters of the Illinois River. The scenery continued after we turned left on Goose Creek Rd./Co. Rd. 66. We followed that road for just over 5 miles, before turning right on Double Springs Rd. and then left on Main St. in Farmington.

View Lake Weddington Loop in a larger map

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