KLR River To River-----Shawnee Forest Dualsport
October 4th and 5th, 2003
A Southern Illinois Backroad Ride
Ride Organizer: Mark Sampson

Eight adventure riders showed up at the campground in Cave In Rock State Park Friday for 2 days and about 350 miles of backroading. The weather initially was suppose to be cold and rainy---however we had absolutely none of that !! The weather was just the opposite of what the weather man said. No----rain (OK 8 drops Joe said), nice warm days and cool nights for camping. It could not have been better. Me, Jay Grafton and Rodney King rolled into Cave In Rock Friday evening in the dark and joined several KLR bike riders for dinner at the local mom and pop restaurant. Then it was off to the campground to set our tents up in the dark----it was so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of your face----flashlights were the order of the night-----and we even got up a little campfire before nodding off.

We all were up by 6AM and went to town and couldn't belive our stomachs-----the local Amvets or something was having a fund raiser pancake and sausage breakfast for $3.50. Jackpot-----what a treat----all we could eat and drink. I tried to let on to everybody that I planned this, but they seen throught it all.

Here we all are on the ferry that will take us over the Ohio river into Kentucky. It is super nice out.

We rode some one lane, very hilly scenic roads East and then North along the Ohio river and ended up at the Ohio river in Mulfordtown, Ky. The famous battery rock is visible across the river in Illinois where during the civil war there were batteries of cannons waiting to shoot boats coming down the Ohio.
I had planned on doing an illegal abandoned bridge crossing on the way to Old Shawneetown----but they tore the neat old bridge down and it was just a concrete bridge now. Here's the bank in Old Shawneetown, Illinois that was built in 1840 and is the oldest building in the state of Illnois still standing that was built as a bank. The little town of what is now know as Chicago was financed throught this bank believe it or not. Brad Blackburns bright yellow DR650 really stands out in this picture.
We rode South again on some nice secluded backroads right back to Cave In Rock. Then we headed straight West on a hilly road which ran parallel with the Ohio river. Just West of Elizabethtown we turned North and came upon "Stone Fort"------which is an old iron ore smelter. The smelter was completely on the ground at one time but has since restored to its original condition.

Heading North thru the ghost town of Karbers Ridge we stopped and made a hike through the "Garden Of The Gods", where there are some really neat rock formations on a high bluff. Pictured left to right are: Kenny Gibbons, Tony Koenan, Joe Hart, and Mark Sampson.

Brad and a couple other riders had went on to the lunch stop as Brad had a stock tank on his DR650 and was running pretty low on fuel.

Joe and Tony were getting a cool drink of water from the old hand pump after the hike thru Garden Of The Gods.
Tony Koenan (left) from Union, Missouri was a really great riding companion all weekend long. He was a very good rider and seemed to have the same passion for adventure riding that I have. I hope to do more riding with Tony in the future. I'm always riding in Missouri-----so I'm sure we will get together in the future.

OK-----this isn't Mount Antero, elevation 14,200ft. in Colorado----but it's the best we have in Southern, Illinois.

You can see my bike here with my new military plastic gas tank, tank panniers and sheep skin. I sent a picture of it to my 26 year old son and he replied----"Dad you've had some really ugly bikes (BMW's)----but the sheepskin puts this one over the edge" !!! He declared it the ugliest bike on the planet------well when he's 53 years old, he'll like it :)

I made it plain and clear to all riders that there would be no mud on this ride-----what you see here is merely a mirage, and why Tony fell down here I don't know. Rodney on the big 1150GS Adventure just flew down this muddy rocky trail like he was on an XR250------I think we all were just in his way.

This was the first of 3 crashes we would have for the weekend.

Crash definition: When you fall down--and somebody sees you !!!!!!!

Jay Grafton on his F650 sure ain't know poser---here he is cuttin' through virgin forest like Dick Burleson on his way to another gold medal.
Obviously another one of those mirages.

Everyone had a hoot on the rough section of trail---and thankfully nobody was mad a me for taking them down it. Actually they all said it was their favorite part.

Here we are at Tunnel Hill, Illinois at the old railroad tunnel which is about 800' long. It is now a trail for bicyclists and goes over 23 tressels. I've ridden on it and it is so beautiful.

After here----it was getting late and we went on to Fern Cliff state park and set up our tents-----I can't belive nobody got a picture of the nice campfire we had. We sat around talking adventure untill we conked out. Everybody was worn out as it was a full day of riding.

Up at 5:30 AM------we packed up our tents and headed for the "Sit A Spell" mom and pop restaurant near the dam at Lake Of Egypt. We had a great breakfast and had 2 more riders joins us. John Simmons (black t-shirt) the owner of Grassroots BMW and a pancho villa Mexico tour guide spent as much time with us as he could this morning, but then had a funeral to go to and left us by noon. He is a very fascinating guy with many stories to tell and kept us entertained.

Also "Big Dave" joined us on his new R1150GS sport-----Dave told us he was a road rider----but after watching him ride the big GS with us down some very fast levees I knew he had some dirt bike experience in him.

Our first stop was "Hippy Falls" about 6 miles West of Goreville, Illinois. This place is unmarked and you would have to ask locals to find it.

The water fall is a 50ft. drop and you can ride right through the creek feeding it. The falls is just beyond the big yellow GS.

Left to Right: Rodney King, Jim Kempf and Jay Grafton test the edge of the cliff. Jim was a very quiet fellow----but always had a big smile on his face and was a great riding companion. I think he like to go fast as every time I cranked it up---he was right behind me.

Later we had a dead engine race down a scary switchback gravel downhill----I had it in the bag I thought----but here comes ole' Jim and blows by me at a horrific 3mph. ----"News Flash"----Jim has been disqualified as I got inside information he had a little push from an anonimous rider who's engine was running-----shame on you Jim :) I'm still the dead engine race king !!!

You can see the big rock overhang under the falls in this picture. Only a couple of the riders had ever seen this place----and I enjoyed taking them to it.


The view on top of Bald Knob is a full 360° view. It looks much higher up here than it actually is. The 111ft. cross built in 1963 is neat, and was built as a symbol of peace.
We took a break here at this deep rock quarry. Some of the roads were very dusty---but nobody complained.
Just off of Bean Ridge road---and down a one lane gravel road is Bean Ridge pond. A very secluded small pond full of huge lilly pads-----a good place for a break. It was suppose to be 29° tonight----but it never even got close to it-----a beautiful day.
My favorite picture-----here all of us are riding a levee below the "government rock" bluff at the edge of "Larue Pine Hills" state forest which is just about 5 miles South of Grand Tower, Illinois.
In Grand Tower we stopped for gas and were terrorized by this young hethen on his fire breathing highly modified lawnmower (he took the mower deck off) !!! This guy was the coolest guy in town as he had a motor while everyone else his age were peddling bicycles. I bet he picked up a lot of chicks on this thing. Notice his front wheels are off the ground !!--I got my camera out and he did a complete show that would have put a monster truck show to shame. He said if he had a string (in which he by-passed the governor) he could really stand her up.
This is the end of the ride and we are just below the gas line suspension bridge just North of Grand Tower on the Mississippi. None of us wanted the ride to end.
Here you can see the two 4ft. in diameter gas lines suspended from the cable towers and hanging over the Mississippi river. This is an impressive thing to go see.
I promised every a good steak at the "Bottom Up" bar and grill in Nunert, Illinois----population 23. I had also promise a nice warm fire in the woodstove inside-----but it was much too warm for that.

Soooooo---we went out on the back porch and ate our steaks outside----what a perfect way to end a perfect ride.

A toast to a perfect ride---- and new and old friends.


Look at the dust on Daves Kilimanjaro----everybody was covered.

I didn't see any dust----don't know what their problem was ????????

A close-up shot of my new friend Brad Blackburn from Sikeston, Missouri on his pretty new DR650. It performed well---but I bet he comes back with a bigger gas tank next time !!!

Brad really loves camping----just not in a tent. He was the only guy to motel it.

He really entertained us with his riding adventure stories in the wilderness-------alone---by himself. Brad does what I do---but alone--pretty tough dude for a motel--er.

Looks like he has some of those "Dirt Bagz" for saddlebags---after seeing them, I'm getting a set for my DRZ400S----they are nice and come with side racks.

Just me-------at Garden Of The Gods near Karbers Ridge, Illinois.

Joe Hart---Marseilles, Illinois. He rode in some serious weather to our campsite Friday night.

I forgot to tell-----when we all got up a 6AM at the start of our ride Saturday morning------Joe had already went for a 45 minute run in the dark-----with no engine-----with his feet !!! yeah !!

Yo-Da-Man Joe !!!!!!!!!

Keeny Gibbons--Mexico, Missouri---DR870.

If you've been on my webpage you've seen plenty of Kenny------couldn't have a better buddy.

Rodney "The Tic" King-----BMWR1150GS Adventure. I had the biggest gas tank untill he showed up !!!!!

He looks a little sad I think here-----he had to leave us early Sunday morning for an important family get together.

"Big Dave"----BMWR1150GS Sport---Carmi, Illinois---said he was a road rider ????--Bullshit !!

He had the "Big Dog" cranked !!!

The best thing about the whole weekend was the compatibility of all the riders who came. We all got along just great and seemed to have the same riding pace and were torn between looking at the scenery and flogging our bikes. I enjoyed each and everyone of yours company. Thanks for an enjoyable ride guys!!!

And don't forget-----"The man who dies with the biggest gas tank----wins".

Mark Sampson