Archive for October, 2011
The Get Out Blog is normally a very positive place, but after another local cyclist was struck and killed by a car last weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to speak to all the drivers out there about the slower-moving traffic that shares the road with you.
A 57-year- old cyclist named Michael Alexander of Fort Madison, Iowa, was struck by a pickup truck from behind on a stretch of road near Montrose, Iowa, last Friday. Michael was an avid cyclist, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a conductor for BNSF Railroad.
I didn’t know Mr. Alexander personally, but just two weeks ago, I was cycling with my husband and a friend on the same road on which he was tragically struck. It’s a pretty road that runs alongside the Mississippi from Montrose all the way to Keokuk, Iowa. The shoulders aren’t enormous, but they’re plenty to ride on if cars are paying attention and bikers are staying off to the sides. On this occasion though, a driver was distracted just long enough to not see Mr. Alexander.
This is one of at least four cyclists killed in the Tri-State area this year in motor vehicle collisions. Even though I didn’t know this cyclist, and maybe because I was just on the same stretch of road, the tragedy has hit very close to home for me. I know that I’ve driven distracted lots of times. I’ve texted. I’ve answered a phone call. I’ve looked down to change a song on my iPod. It could have easily been me hit on my bicycle, but could also have just as easily been me who was distracted long enough to hit a cyclist, walker or runner.
The truth of the matter is that cyclists aren’t always in the right. As a group, we’re generally pretty conscientious of laws and we stay off to the sides of the road and use blinking lights and wear the brightest jerseys we can find, but there are times when we make the wrong move. On the articles about Mr. Alexander’s death on some news of the local outlets though, there were a couple of highly inappropriate comments posted by people regarding riders. You see those types of comments any time a cyclist is hit by a car. One that really upset me was a comment by a viewer using the name “Lawnboy” on KTVO’s website: “Very unfortunate event, however until bicyclists put their common sense before their ‘right’ to the roads, there will undoubtedly be more of these stories.”
I wasn’t there, and I don’t know if this cyclist was in the right place or not. The point is this: It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong. When a car strikes a biker, runner or walker, it’s always the car that wins. Therefore, it’s the driver’s responsibility to be as conscientious as possible. As drivers we have to keep our eyes on the road, pay attention to our lanes, and look out for other people using the roadways. The road that Mr. Alexander was killed on is designated a scenic drive and has cycling route signs along its entire length. It’s a place that a motorist might reasonably expect to see a cyclist. And it was definitely his right to be using the road to cycle.
My heart truly goes out to the family of Mr. Alexander and to the family of the driver of the pickup truck that struck him. I don’t doubt that the driver wishes that he hadn’t had his eyes off the road to do whatever little thing had him distracted. Life is going to be hard for both families going forward from this incredibly sad event.
I hope you take a moment right now to think about the way you drive. Are you careful to look out for cyclists, runners, walkers, kids playing, farm vehicles, construction workers, horses and motorcycle riders? The text you were going to send, the song you were going to listen to, or whatever else you might find yourself distracted with are not worth the consequences that can happen when you drive distracted. Please be safe on the roads, and be aware of all of the people who share them with you.
To read Mr. Alexander’s obituary or to express condolences, please click here.
— Laura Sievert
Ahhhhh … Swimsuit season is officially over, and if you’re like me,
you’re thinking sweet thoughts of holiday treats and big family dinners. I really hate to undo all of the good work I’ve done to get fit this summer though. If only there were a way to have my mashed potatoes and stay in my current blue jeans too …
YMCA Turkey Run
Before you pop the bird in the oven, head on over to the Quincy Family YMCA’s 32nd Annual TurkeyRun. You won’t feel too bad about a second piece of pie if you started your Thanksgiving morning with a 5K run or walk, 10K run or 1 mile walk! This Quincy tradition brings hundreds of runners and walkers together to celebrate something we should really be thankful for: our health and fitness. You can register online for the event at http://www.active.com/running/quincy-il/quincy-family-ymca-turkey-run-2011-oy086 The fee for participation is $27 for individuals if you sign up before 11/17, or $55 for a family of up to 4 people. On 11/18, registration goes to $32 for individuals or $60 for families of up to 4. Proceeds benefit the YMCA.
Jingle Bell Run/Walk
Oh what fun it is to run! The 2011 Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Arthritis Foundation will be held at the Quincy Mall on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Jingle Bell Run/Walk is a national event whereparticipants kick off their holiday season by raising money to fight the No. 1 cause of disability in the United States: arthritis. You’re encouraged to wear holiday-themed costumes and to tie bells to your shoes to celebrate the season! You can register as a team or as an individual. Early-bird registration rates end Nov. 12, so sign up soon! All of the registration information can be found here http://jinglebellquincy.kintera.org. If you can’t run in the event, you can always donate to teams or individuals running. To make a donation, visit http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/ccp.asp?
I hope you get the chance to Get Out and take part in these events. I’ll be there with bells on!
I’m a Salvation Army bell ringer, but not the kind who stands at the mall with a red kettle. The bell in question is small and white with a red Salvation Army logo emblazoned on its side, and to ring it, you need to climb to the top of the Kroc Center’s new rock climbing wall.
Wednesday night was my second time in the new Kroc facility. My husband and I are still deciding on which gym to join for the cold winter months when I have to put my bike away (awww), so in order to “try before we buy” we got some guest passes and headed down for a workout. Guest passes are $7.50 per day, and are very worthwhile if you like to get a feel for a facility before you purchase a membership.
We started our workout on the new Matrix treadmills. I was pretty excited to try these out. They feature video runs where you can select a setting — I picked Utah Canyon country — and then as you run, the video displays a “trail” you can run through. I liked that it gave little facts about the scenery you were passing as you ran, and that the incline adjusted automatically to match the trail.
After the treadmills, Justin and I headed over to some of the weight equipment. I tried the assisted pull-ups machine, then the pull-down bar, then the tricep-working arm deal. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I’m no weight lifter. The gym staff was friendly though, and they were happy to explain machines, even if I wasn’t all that happy to try them.
Justin knows his way around a gym, so he took off to do more upper-body workout machines while I decided to try out the video bikes. The video bikes are simply awesome. I mean, it’s not the same as riding outdoors, but it turns working out into a game, and I really enjoyed that. Basically, you pick a course on the screen and you pedal to complete it. The neat part is that you have to control the bike just like you would a real bicycle. It has shifters and handlebars that move, and you steer around the course, dodge other riders and trek up and down hills with appropriate resistance. I’ll admit — I may have run a few other riders off the road and down cliffs just to see what would happen — but I promise I’d never do that on my real bike.
When I was properly exhausted, I went to find my husband and my jacket. I was headed for the exit when the imposing rock wall caught my eye. There were three guys standing at the wall, and when one of them saw me looking up, he waved me over.
The guys explained that every other Wednesday is, “Ladies’ Night Up,” where women get to try the kRock Wall for free! I may have been exhausted, but I wasn’t going to let a free climbing opportunity pass me by. A rock wall volunteer named Zlatko set me up with a harness. He explained the double figure 8 knot and a fisherman’s knot as he made them, and then pointed out the route I’d be taking up the wall. The beginner’s route was set up to be a ladder-like climb where you always have four good points of contact on the wall.
I started and quickly figured out a few things about climbing. The first thing I learned was the closer my body was to the wall, the easier it was on my arms. The next important thing I learned was that climbing isn’t all upper body strength anyway. You can use your legs and stand up on each new step, and that takes a lot of the strain out of your arms.
I got a little stuck about halfway up the wall, so I decided to take the plunge and let go. The auto-belay system lowered me gently to the ground and was actually really fun. I looked back at the spot that had me stuck, and after some consideration, I decided I wanted to give the wall one more try. This time, the volunteers suggested that instead of the auto-belay system, they’d set me up on a rope-belay that they controlled. The advantage was that if I needed to rest a second or shake my arms out, they could take my weight and keep me on the wall.
I set out on my second attempt, bound for the little white bell. The first section was easy, and I got past the place I’d been stuck before. I was three-fourths of the way up and the bell was in sight. I asked Zlatko to hold me for a second, I shook out my arms, and then made the final push to the top. Then, I reached out and rang the bell! It felt amazing!
I hope you all get the chance to go and experience the new Kroc Center. Without fail, every member of the staff was helpful and friendly, and whether you’re learning the weight equipment or the rock wall, they’ll be glad to teach you what you need to know. I also hope you give climbing a chance. Two trips up that wall and I’m totally addicted. I’m even planning a trip to Upper Limits Rock Gym in St. Louis for a lesson or two. The next “Ladies’ Up Night” at the Kroc Center will be Wednesday, Nov. 2. I know that I’ll be there and I hope you are too!
Crisp autumn days are here, and it’s a great time to Get Out with your family or friends and try something new. One of the most affordable and fun activities available in our area is disc golf!
Disk golf — also called frisbee golf or “frolf” — is an easy sport to learn and is a healthy and fun way to get your entire family out to be active together. There are several very nice disc golf courses in our area, and just last week, I went out to the course at Upper Moorman Park in Quincy with a group of friends for a nice afternoon round.
The rules of disc golf are similar to regular golf. The golfer steps up to a tee area and throws a disc toward a metal basket that acts as the hole. Each hole on the course has a set par or suggested number of throws that it should take to get to the basket. You score the hole the same as you would in golf — you count the total number of throws and the lowest total wins. You can score birdies, bogies, pars … all the same terms as regular golf.
Frisbee golf discs are specially designed for the sport. Discs are labeled the same way as golf clubs. There are drivers, putters or discs with numbers on them that correspond to irons or woods. Each type of disc is shaped to optimize its flight to a certain distance. For example, drivers are meant to fly long and putters are shaped for short, accurate throws.
You don’t need all of the types of discs to get started though. In fact, if you’re just trying disc golf out for the first time,
I’d suggest purchasing one driver and using it for the whole game. You can purchase discs many places, including MC Sports, Kmart or from any number of online sources. Most recreational discs cost around $7-$15, so disc golf is a relatively inexpensive hobby to get started playing.
The other good news about disc golf is that after you have your Frisbees, there is not much cost in the sport. Courses in our area are all at public parks and are free! And you don’t even really need a course — I highly recommend practicing by making a hole out of an orange Quincy Recycle bin, placing it behind the swing set in your back yard and using your tulip-poplar-tree as a hazard. But that’s just me.
Local courses include:
Upper Moorman Park in Quincy: 18 holes. Open until the Avenue of Lights closes the park in the winter. http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=1572
Flower City Park in Palmyra, Mo.: 18 holes, year round. Map here: http://www.showmepalmyra.com/parksrec/disc_golf.pdf
Wildcat Springs Park in Hamilton, Ill.: 18 holes, year round. Very pretty course with lots of trees and concrete tee boxes. http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=848
Rand Park in Keokuk, Iowa: 18 holes. Open until Keokuk City of Christmas Lights close the park in November. This is a lovely course at a park that has a stunning overlook to the Mississippi River. There are also Rec Disk Golf Leagues here in the summer. http://www.iowabeautiful.com/southeast-iowa-tourism/23-rand-park.html
For more information and to search for other courses, check out http://www.dgcoursereview.com
*Thanks to Corey Miller with his help on putting together info for this article!
I went to Kelly’s Restaurant the past two Tuesday nights, but it wasn’t for the cheese soup or the cinnamon rolls. In fact, it was for a much healthier purpose all together. I was there to meet with the Heartland Road Runners and Walkers Club and participate in their evening social run!
The HRRWC is a chapter of the Road Runners Club of America. Their mission is to promote walking, running and active lifestyles for people of all ages and fitness levels. The Quincy Club has many scheduled group runs, including the one I participated in the last two weeks.
I’m a pretty active person, but running has always been tough for me. I’m slow and maybe a little self-conscious, and I was really intimidated by the idea of running with a group. Many members of the Quincy Bicycle Club are also members of HRRWC though, and they kept telling me I needed to give running with the club a shot. At the very least I thought it would give me something new to blog about, so I laced up my Mizunos and went out to meet the club.
The Tuesday evening social runs meet in the parking lot at a different Quincy restaurant each month. This month the run meets at Kelly’s at 6:45. I talked my friend Jeremy into going to with me, and when we arrived, there was about a dozen runners ranging in age from 15 to 55 standing in the parking lot. I didn’t really know what to expect from there. I knew a few of the people there were amazing athletes and I was pretty worried that I’d be left in their dust as soon as we took off. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case at all.
We set out from the Kelly’s lot out toward 30th Street. The pace was nice and easy and people were chatting while we jogged. We turned up Maine Street and spread out in a long line going through Madison Park. It was a beautiful autumn evening and I was actually really enjoying the run. The group naturally broke itself into smaller groups about a mile into the run. My friend Jeremy is a stronger runner than I am and he went with the middle group. I was in the slowest group, but the four of us stuck together and I never felt like I was slowing anyone down.
Doug Seebers paired up with me at about the 1.5 mile mark, and he explained that he uses a system of running called the Jeff Galloway Program. I’ll write more about this in an upcoming blog, but I learned that the program is a running and walking combination designed to maximize distance and minimize injury for runners. Doug and I alternated running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute for the remainder of the 3.2 mile run. It was only after the run that I learned that Doug has completed 35 full marathon runs (26.2 miles) using this method.
Running with Doug was great for a beginner like me. He was full of encouragement and helped me to push just a little harder without making me feel like I wasn’t moving fast enough. The second week I ran with another club member, Denise Poland, and I was again surprised at how encouraging it was to run with someone else and share in another club member’s enthusiasm for being active.
After each evening social run, the club sticks around for dinner at the restaurant that they started from. I really enjoyed the conversation after the run. Every bit of the experience was welcoming and inclusive, and I’m really excited about learning from each of the runners of the HRRWC. I would encourage any of my readers to join us in the parking lot at Kelly’s next Tuesday at 6:45 to Get Out and give the Heartland Road Runners and Walkers Club a shot. They’ve definitely got a place for you, no matter how much or how little experience you have.
To learn more about HRRWC, visit www.hrrwc.com or find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heartland-Road-Runners-and-Walkers-Club-HRRWC/73873799611 Yearly membership to the club is $15 for an individual or $25 for a family. Evening social runs will start from Kelly’s on Tuesdays at 6:45 throughout October. After that, you may contact Glenn Swick at email@example.com to find out where the club will be meeting. There are also early morning runs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:30 AM leaving from Starbucks. Information and times for other scheduled runs and events are on the HRRWC website.
Abraham Lincoln has always been my favorite president. By coincidence, Lincoln and I share the same birthday — Feb. 12. In Illinois, that always meant that everyone had my birthday off from school or work. It was probably that connection that spurred my interest in learning more about the nation’s beloved 16th president. As a kid, I would read all of the books about him that I could find and watch documentaries on television from time to time, but I think experiencing a good trip through the Land of Lincoln is probably the most engaging way to learn about the places and events that shaped Honest Abe.
The Looking for Lincoln Story Trail is a collection of 215 informative dioramas located throughout Central Illinois. Quincy is home to 18 of these waypoints. The Quincy Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Lincoln-Douglas Interpretative Center and the Friends of the Trails have teamed up to present a bicycle trail that guides visitors through each of these exhibits.
To celebrate this new trail, former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz and President of Friends of the Trails Cullan Duke will preside over a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13. The ceremony will be held at the Washington Park Lincoln Douglas diorama (Rain location is in the Lincoln-Douglas Interpretive Center across the street).
The on-road bike trail begins at Washington Park in front of the Lincoln-Douglas Interpretive Center. The first eight stops are all directly around Washington Park in downtown Quincy. The close proximity of these first eight stops makes this a great portion of the trail to walk! From there, the trail heads down Hampshire Street and then up to the Villa Kathrine. The southernmost waypoint takes riders to historic Woodland Cemetery. The route then traverses Fifth Street to Kentucky, stops near the John Wood Mansion at 12th and State, and then turns to head back up beautiful Maine Street towards the park.
One of the highlights of each of the Looking for Lincoln displays are the Rubbing Medallions. These individual coins have raised images that relate to the info-graphic . They’re designed for visitors to place paper over and rub the design with a crayon or chalk for a lasting souvenir of their visit. The Medallions are a great way to help engage kids and get them excited about history.
If you don’t have a bike or are only visiting Quincy, you’re not out of luck for this trail. The Friends of the Trails has bicycles available for rent located at both the Lincoln-Douglas Interpretive Center, (217) 228-8696, as well as the Villa Kathrine, (217) 214-3700. Hourly or daily rates are available, and there is even a tandem bicycle available to rent. Maps of the trail are also available at these locations as well as Madison Davis Bike Shop at 912 South Eighth St. in Quincy (217) 222-7262.
I encourage everyone to take the time to Get Out and look for Lincoln’s connections with Quincy. Now, does anyone know where I can find a stove-pipe hat to fit over my bike helmet…?
Special thanks to the Madison Davis Bicycle Shop, Refreshment Services Quincy, the Historic Quincy Business District, the Quincy Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Signs in Time, Jenny Terstriep, Richard Powell, Abby Schlipmann, and everyone else who has helped make this trail possible.
**Click here to download a PDF of the trail map: LHTMap
If I were the boss of things, I’d declare Friday a citywide “Day to Get Out.” I’d close the shops and the offices and the banks, and I’d send everyone in town to a park to enjoy the blue skies and beautiful autumn weather. I’m not the boss of things, but I am tossing around the idea of taking a vacation day and heading out for some fun fall activities. Here are a few ideas if you want to follow suit:
Color Drive on the Great River Road
There’s no nicer way to enjoy the Mid-Mississippi valley than a color drive on the Great River Road. The Great River Road stretches over 2,000 miles in 10 states along the Mississippi River. The section that we live on has been named a National Scenic Byway and is often mentioned as one of the most splendid drives in the Midwest. If I were color hunting this weekend, I’d head north along the GRR. The stretch between Hamilton and Nauvoo, Ill., features stunning river views to the west and beautiful forested bluffs to the east. If you fancy a slower color tour, the same stretch of road is lovely to experience by bicycle. The Great River Road Golf Club is also right along this drive and greens fees for 18 holes are only $13 on the weekdays and $15 on the weekends.
As the changing colors move to the south next weekend, follow the GRR toward Hannibal or all the way to St. Charles, Mo. For more information on the Great River Road and useful maps, check out www.greatriverroad.com.
Wine Tasting in Ursa
Spirit Knob Winery is just a short drive from Quincy up the Great River Road. The winery was established in 2002, and sitting outside sipping a glass of semi-dry Bluff Ridge White Wine is one of the best ways I can think of to while away an afternoon. The scenic location overlooks farm fields, forested hillsides and the river valley. For the winery’s hours, events calendar, directions and wine list, visit www.spiritknob.com.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
The 2,200-acre Cahokia Mounds site is located in Collinsville, Ill. — just northeast of St. Louis. It’s one of the most historic sites in the state and has been designated as both a World Heritage Site and as a National Historic Landmark. There are more than 120 separate mounds at Cahokia, and each reveals something unique about the Mississippian culture that once thrived there.
Archeologists believe that there were around 20,000 inhabitants of the city at its height; which means that in the year 1250 A.D., the city of Cahokia was bigger than London. You can explore the ancient city through walking tours, trails, museum exhibits, a theater and much more. You can’t miss my favorite spot in the park — Monk’s Mound. It’s 100-foot tall, nearly 1,000-feet across and is the largest Pre-Cambrian earthwork in North America. For more information on Cahokia Mounds, visit cahokiamounds.org Also, I highly recommend the book, “Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi” by Timothy R. Pauketat. This book is available at the Quincy Public Library.
I hope you all get some opportunity to Get Out this week and enjoy fall. This nice weather is going to be gone before we know it. If you’ve got other good ideas or activities to share, leave a comment below. I’m always looking for ways to “Get Out.”
Everyone join me in giving the Illinois Department of Natural Resources a round of applause, because they’ve come up with one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of. The IDNR will use its program called Target Hunger Now to take the non-native invasive Asian Carp out of the river and on to the dinner plates of Illinois’ hungry.
The Asian Carp is actually not one type of fish, but three: the Silver, Bighead and Black Carp. They were originally imported from Southeast Asia for use in keeping aquaculture facilities free of plankton, algae and other microscopic organisms. Flooding at these aquaculture plants let the fish escape into our rivers and, in recent years, populations of these fish have exploded in the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers and many of their tributaries.
The Asian Carp are a major problem for several reasons. First, they’re really big fish. The carp average 30 to 40 pounds each, but the largest can be up to 7-feet long and tip the scales at up to 150 pounds. These behemoths are voracious eaters who can consume up to 20 percent of their own body weight in algae and plankton (and, in the case of the Black variety, muscles and sturgeon eggs) per day. They also are prolific breeders, so even though some predators like eagles, pelicans, herons and some large-mouth bass have been known to eat some of the juveniles, far too many of the fish reach a size where they are too large to be eaten. Due to their number, size and appetite, they simply out-compete local fish populations.
The other major problem the carp are known for is the way that they jump. Low decibel vibrations, like the noise from a boat motor, cause the fish to launch themselves in the air. I saw this first hand on Quincy Bay while I was kayaking with Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon this summer. It was really something to see dozens of fish launch into the air when a small john boat passed us — and it’s easy to imagine that if you were in a moving boat and got struck by one of these fish, you could face potential injury.
That’s why moving the carp from jumping in the rivers to jumping onto dinner plates seems like such a good idea. The fish is already a popular dinner item in parts of Asia and Europe, but Americans are just warming up to the idea. The Asian Carp can be quite tasty when prepared well. Unlike native carp species, Asian Carp feed within the water column rather than off of the bottom of the river. Anyone who has tasted a particularly “muddy” catfish will know that bottom feeders are not culinary winners. Fish that feed in the water column are also lower in contaminates like methyl mercury than bottom feeders.
Target Hunger Now has already hosted many successful events in Illinois. According to its website, more than 2,000 Illinois families took advantage of the donated venison (deer) program last year. Target Hunger Now hopes that as much as 40,000 pounds of fish can be processed daily. They also expect to distribute 100,000 pounds of venison this year through the Illinois food bank system. This equates to approximately 3.3 million protein-rich meals available free to those who are facing hunger in our communities. And a bonus: catching and processing these fish is creating jobs right here in Illinois.
There are lots of great online resources if you’d like to learn more about Target Hunger Now or the invasive Asian Carp:
- Ideas for how to prepare carp and venison: http://www.dnr.state.il.us/THN/ISAH%20Recipe%20Flyer.pdf
- Illinois Fishing Information: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/fishing/Documents/IllinoisFishingInformation.pdf
- Asian Carp and management efforts: http://www.asiancarp.org or http://www.glfc.org/fishmgmt/carp.php
- Target Hunger Now campaign: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Pages/TargetHungerNow.aspx
Stay tuned to the Get Out blog later this month for information on the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program.