Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 33 Belvidere, illinois (98 miles)

Today the ride consists mostly of rolling rural roads through Wisconsin dairyland and then flattens as the riders reach the Illinois Sate Line, their 8th state. They will go through the town of Evansville, which has beautiful old houses, along the way and then cross the state line at the town of Beloit.

Something about Belvidere: Located in north central Illinois, Belvidere is approximately 75 miles (121 km) northwest of the downtown of Chicago, and approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of Rockford. As of the census of 2000, there were 20,820 people.

Belvidere was originally built on the north side of the Kishwaukee River. In 1851, a railroad was built south of the river, the business section followed to the south side of the river, where Belvidere's "downtown" is now located. Belvidere is known as "The city of murals."

The Township Murals were designed and created through the use of original photos by a former Belvidere High School Art teacher. A number of Belvidere High School Art students also worked on the project.

One of Belvidere's many murals

On April 21, 1967, a devastating tornado struck Belvidere. Twenty-four lives were lost in the tornado, many of whom were school children. The tornado struck at the end of the school day of Belvidere High School, while many children including those that attended area grade schools were waiting on school buses outside of the high school. Out of sixteen school buses outside of the high school, twelve were overturned or thrown. In 2007 a statue was erected in front of Belvidere High School in memorial of the lives lost.

Stainless steel tornado memorial which is engraved with the victims' names. Surrounding the memorial are four stainless steel benches where one can sit for quiet contemplation to remember the lives of those who were lost.

Today's weather forecast for Belvidere:

Temperature: 91.6 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 68%
Dew Point: 79 °F
Wind: 7.0 mph from the SW
Wind Gust: 10.0 mph
Pressure: 29.42 in (Rising)
Heat Index: 108 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles

Tonight's forecast is calling for showers and possible severe thunderstorms/flash flooding. Lows in the mid 70s. Southwest winds around 10 mph early in the evening becoming light and variable late in the evening.

Chuck said that it was raining hard when he left Madison and it continued all morning. There was some confusion getting out of Madison with riders going every which way on the bike path but they all made it out of Madison finally. During the morning, he passed remnants of last night's storm in the form of downed trees (one on top of a house) and flattened corn fields.

Eventually, the rain did stop and the sun came out. Then the day turned very hot and humid with a SW headwind. He was amazed that the change in weather occurred in about an hour's time. Oh, Well, that's the Midwest for you. Chuck said between the rain in the morning and then the heat, humidity and headwinds of the afternoon he was whooped by the end of the day.

At the Illinois State border he did get a surprise though. Jim Andreson from the 2008 Big Ride, who lives in the Chicago area, was at the Illinois State Line sign. Later in the day Jim met back up with the riders with an ice chest full of Dairy Queen Blizzards and cold lemonade as well as cookies and watermelon. Chuck said that on a hot and humid day it all tasted so good. He was very glad to see Jim and to get to talk to him for awhile.

From Mark's blog: Chuck enjoying a DQ blizzard with Jim Andreson and some of the other Big Riders

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