9th Annual Virgil Gilman “Fall Colors” Trail Ride

9th Annual EBC Virgil Gilman "Fall Colors" Ride


Elmhurst Bicycle Club has any number of longtime ride leaders. Each of them has a “signature ride”. This one belongs to Joanne DeZur. She told me today that she has a group ride image from each of the nine years she has led this ride. Today’s ride had eight (8) participants including this reporter.

About The Trail

This trail is 9 miles from Ohio Street, south of Montgomery, northwest to Bliss Woods on Bliss Road, north of Sugar Grove. The Fox River is crossed on a covered bridge between Rt. 25 and Rt. 31 in Aurora, north of Ashland Avenue. (630-897-0516).

The Virgil L. Gilman Nature Trail, includes two abandoned railroad right-of-ways. Beginning at Business Rt. 30 near Montgomery Road, the trail stretches west, a distance of approximately 11.2 miles to Waubonsee Community College. The Virgil L. Gilman Trail was constructed by the Fox Valley Park District and the Kane County Forest Preserve District.

The Virgil L. Gilman Nature Trail (PDF) crosses Waubonsee Creek. Beyond the creek are wetlands, filled with small birds and waterfowl. Ducks, heron and shore birds visit the marsh on their migratory flights. Redwing Blackbirds, the Downy Woodpecker, Cardinals, Bluejays can be seen along the path, as well as wildflowers and small patches of native prairie. Cottonwoods, White Poplars, Sycamores, White and Black Oak add to the sights to be seen. A truss bridge connects the two shores of the Fox River.

— Excerpted from the Kane County F.P. website

It has been more than a decade since Connie and I led a group ride on this trail. Back then there were no bridges that crossed the main thoroughfare and highway sections. Like the Illinois Prairie Path this trail has undergone some vast improvements which make it special.

Like the Naperville River Walk Trail this one is about the same length and has the same kind of rustic beauty that gives you the impression that you are miles from nowhere. The terrain is rolling and if you take the time you can spot all sorts of flora and fauna. In fact as we were heading out we passed a field full of fowl grazing in the early morning sunlight.

All along the trail are flowers and trees of every description. The length of the trail seems well maintained and certainly should be a source of pride for the counties through which it winds. Most notable are the new overpasses that keep you safe from the cross traffic at various points.

The grades up to these overpasses is gentle enough that a recumbent rider need not slow down the upright riders in their midst. And that of course means that the downhills are gradual enough that you won’t overtake the upright riders at 40 mph over wet leaves or when the trail is crowded.

Waubonsee Community College

The College has a Student Center that dominates the parking lot where the trail ends. Heading over to the doors you enter and find a dining area and washrooms close-to-hand. Several of our number went in to find food and to use the restrooms. It makes for a very nice turnaround point for those who like me are old enough to need to make frequent pitstops and would like nothing better than a warm bowl of soup!

I sat outside and munched on a bagel w/peanut butter, and a ProBar all washed down with the remainder of my first bottle of EFS First Endurance Energy Drink. I really like this fluid nourishment since it has a lower glycemic index than some I have used and it seems to nourish my muscles on really hot days or when I am in jeopardy of dehydration. Great stuff!

The ProBars (I know I sound like a walking commercial) are also great food. They are vegan quality and highly organic. Nothing I have used before does as good a job of helping me avoid cramps and gain quick energy without affecting my blood sugar levels in a bad way. Another great product!

The Return Trip

The trip back was uneventful. I only wish that we had been able to linger a bit along the way since I am used to stopping all the time to grab the frequent photograph of anything and everything that interests me along the way. I called Connie after the ride to let her know that this is a ride we should do in the very near future!

As the group entered the parking lot everyone was willing to express a “thank you” to our ride leader. She does a great job of keeping the group moving at the posted speeds and Ted Sward does an equally great job of sweeping the rear. Both are marvelously consistent riders. Something I aspire to but am too lazy to perfect.

Another great day on the bike!

Cyclometer Info

Distance: 23.0 miles
Time: 2h 14m 37s