Friday, May 22, 2015

Mayfield KY to Cairo IL

May 22

Our departure from Mayfield was on a busy road with no shoulder. Ace had a flat at the beginning of our ride, a piece of steel belt had lodged in his tire. It’s our first flat. There was a lot of traffic, including truck traffic and It was a little stressful for quite a few miles, but eventually we seemed to lose a majority of the traffic to other roads. Most folks are pretty good about slowing down or moving over as needed, but there are always a few who can’t seem to accomplish this simple maneuver.

Lunch was at a little restaurant in Wickliffe KY, just before crossing into Illinois. We would need to cross the Ohio River on a beautiful old steel bridge. The bridge is very long and narrow with no shoulder, so we decided to shuttle the bikes over on the car. It would have been fun to ride over it, but it would just be too dangerous.

Jo and Ace went first, while May and I waited in Wickliffe. I went in search of an ATM, and after I finished my transaction a nice woman at the bank called out the window and asked if I needed some cold water or anything - very nice! Roger returned and we ferried the last two bikes over and we took off to ride through the town of Cairo.

Cairo Illinois, a sad little town. At one time it had to have been prosperous. There is some beautiful architecture throughout the town, but it is now an empty shell. The population has dwindled. Many of the buildings are deteriorating, and those businesses that appeared to be operational were closed even though it was Friday afternoon.

Roger and I rode bikes around the town, to the downtown area, and out to the levee, before heading north of town to our motel. Once we were settled in, Jo, May, Roger, and I returned to downtown Cairo to visit a few more sights. We also drove south of town looking for photo ops of the bridge we crossed. We found another bridge, this one over the Mississippi River. It was closed for major repairs and we walked to up to the top of it for views of the river.

The weather today was perfect. Warm and sunny, not too hot. We rode about 36 miles, shorter than planned due to the shuttling of the bikes.

All in all a very interesting day.

Interesting old barn still standing 
Cool sign in the yard of some nice folks
who invited us to sit in their yard and have sweet tea.
Nice riding once the traffic thinned out.
County Courthouse, Wickliffe Kentucky 
Illinois Border - no opportunity for group shot
Barge traffic on the Ohio River 
Cairo IL - One of many abandoned buildings
Downtown Cairo
Some of the near abandoned building.
In fact I don't know if there is any business here,
but we can see one car in the photo
The bridge on which we crossed the Ohio River
Levee with flood markings.
Historic Downtown Cairo
More empty buildings 
Crumbling and deteriorating
Someone had recently planted some roses, while in the background the city is dying 
Illinois Central
Wall of murals 
Some of the far ones are unfinished
Ornate gate at Riverlore
Side porch, Riverlore

Magnolia Manor 
Ornate architectural features on Magnolia Manor
Bridge over the Mississippi River under repair
Look at those large beams
Confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers


  1. Welcome to Illinois, my home state. Southern IL is indeed very sad. There are beautiful landscapes and state forests (Shawnee), but the towns are just as you show. Do be careful on the roads. Bikes are still fairly unusual, I would think. Mid state will be mostly huge semis and farm machinery and pickups. Yeeha...

    1. Thanks Martha, We try to find quiet backroads, but sometimes they're hard to find. In a few days we will be on a main biking route and it will be easier to avoid some of the worst roads, and get through towns on back streets rather than the main drag.

  2. Cairo looks like a movie set. Sad to see those beautiful buildings deteriorate. There should be some fund for it, to keep them in shape... Certainly picturesque.

    1. Good description Sonja, I think there is a little state funding for some buildings, but the main seems to simply be left to fall apart. I think how sad it must be to try to raise kids here.

  3. Cairo's abandoned buildings looked like they could be used as a set for the series "Walking Dead"....kind of sad actually. Wikipedia has a good writeup of the life and times of Cairo, .

    1. Thanks Dom, yes I read up on Cairo. I had to know what the heck happened. We thought it might have been flooding, but that was not the case. Racial issues and economic changes did the damage. People just left. Very sad

  4. Some pretty old mansions. I love the old barn pic though.

    I can't believe you guys made it over 1000 miles without a flat. That is pretty darn good.

    1. Let's hope we go another 1000 before any flats...or even 2 or 3 :)