Ride IllinoisRide Illinois

2021 Grand Illinois Bike Tour

March 22, 2021 Announcement:

GIBT 2021 will be hotel-only due to camping venue issues 

Second hotel package opened for riders in the cancelled camping option

In January, we surveyed then-current GIBT registrants about the possibility of going to a hotel-only GIBT this year, if we ran into availability issues with the schools and sites hosting our campers. Thankfully for all of us, the large majority of our campers preferred this over
cancellation of the entire tour/fundraiser.

Now, unfortunately, the hotel-only contingency has come true. As it stands now, four of our five camping night venues are unavailable to us, with no suitable, available backup camping sites and too much uncertainty on whether/when those host schools’ policies might return to normal. So, we made the difficult decision to cancel the camping option.

To accommodate our campers, and since our original hotel package is basically full, we created a secondary hotel package – details below. The number of rooms we were able to secure should be enough for the anticipated demand from already registered campers, but it will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration (with the secondary hotel package) is re-opened to the general public.

We continue to closely monitor the pandemic situation and vaccination program, with our overall “Go” or “No Go” decision in late April. We’re growing more optimistic that we’ll see you for a fun week of biking on June 13-18! With the hotel-only decision made, several variables are now gone. We can focus more on planning appropriate COVID prevention practices – AND all the other details of another great GIBT tour.

Some details of the secondary hotel package:

  • We can try to match you with a roommate if you don’t already have one in mind.
  • This fee compares with the prices of the original hotel package, with the difference coming from the different hotel room costs.
  • The secondary hotel package includes the LaQuinta in O’Fallon, two nights primarily at Edwardsville’s Country Hearth Inn (with some at the Holiday Inn), and two nights at Alton’s Best Western (with some at the Super 8). Over the course of the week, we try to be fair in assigning who stays where when there are two hotels at a location.
  • The O’Fallon LaQuinta was chosen out of route safety necessity, but it does make a long Day 1 somewhat longer (55 miles) and Day 2’s Basic Route considerably shorter – for secondary hotel package riders.
  • As with the original hotel package, the pricing reflects (boxed) catered dinners for four (instead of three) of the five nights. Enjoy Edwardsville’s nearby restaurants on your other night there. We’ll alternate which hotel package’s dinner will be catered on the two nights, so the restaurants are not overwhelmed.

While this year’s GIBT tour will look different than past and future years, we’re confident that you’ll have a great time. Stay healthy, start your training, and we sure hope to see you all in June!
Dave Simmons, Gina Kenny, and Ed Barsotti

Join us June 13, 2021 through June 18, 2021 for our 18th annual Grand Illinois Bike Tour! Our 2021 loop will tour the Trails of Madison County, on the Illinois side of the St. Louis area. We will start and stop in Litchfield, with overnights in Lebanon (one night), Edwardsville and Godfrey/Alton (two nights each). Join us and invite your friends (non-riding volunteers needed too).

Register now in confidence – 100% refund available for COVID-19 concerns or any other reason, through May 12.

Choose among our daily mileage options for a total ranging from 200 to 375 miles, consisting of quiet rural roads and 140+ miles on trails (almost all asphalt-surfaced) on old railroad corridors. Pick between our camping and hotel options (only the hotel option is available for 2021), and enjoy evenings filled with good food and fellowship with riders hailing from around the country. Proceeds benefit Ride Illinois, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization, and support our mission to make Illinois a better, safer and more enjoyable place to ride.

Our fully supported tour basics:

  • Basic daily route distances between towns range from 45 to 52 miles. Longer route and layover day options are available. Routes are marked, and both cue sheets and RideWithGPS navigation are provided.
  • Campers will tent in parks and college grounds, with showering facilities on-site (four nights) or nearby via shuttle bus/biking/walking (one night). All breakfasts and dinners (10 meals in total) are included. (Camping option is not available for 2021.)
  • The hotel option, available for an additional fee, sells out early and accommodates approximately 100 riders (this primary hotel option is full). For 2021, we have added a secondary hotel option to accommodate our GIBT riders. Eight meals (all breakfasts and three dinners) and evening receptions are included.
  • Luggage transportation is provided in separate vehicles for campers and hotelers.
  • Emergency SAG, refreshment stops, and t-shirt are included. Local bike shops will be providing expert bike repair. See “Extra third-party services” below for other offerings including camping rentals and set-up services, as well as massage service. (Extra third-party services will not be available for the 2021 GIBT.)
  • Nightly meetings include ride information and more.
  • Velosophie, an optional reading discussion group, meets before dinner each day. Join the fun after dinner at camp, as fellow riders play guitar and banjo.

The pandemic, government restrictions, and school value availability may or may not force us to postpone GIBT again. We expect to make a final decision by April. If we are a “go,” we will still make several adjustments to limit crowds, especially inside. An example includes having caters box our meals for quick pickup.

The ride is limited to 250 riders.

Registration will be available online as well as via a PDF that you can print and mail to Ride Illinois.

Why should you ride GIBT? We will let some of the riders in this year’s GIBT answer that with their favorite parts of the ride:

  • “I had a great time. The folks who do the ride were interesting and funny. I felt welcomed as a lone first-timer and really had a lot of fun.”
  • “The routes were enjoyable and varied.”
  • “This ride was perfect for me! The mileage options, camping, Velosophie, meals, layover days, and location = perfect!”
  • “Great ride. Liked the small size.”

Want more details and more reasons why you should join us? Check out our 2019 Grand Illinois Bike Tour video:


Registration Rates

Secondary Hotel Package
Single Occupancy: $1,060 (Member rate: $1,025)
Double Occupancy: $850 per person (Member rate: $815))

Questions? Email info@rideillinois.org.

Please read our revised cancellation and refund policy below.

The ride is limited to 250 riders.

Register online or download, print, and mail the PDF Registration Form.

Route & Mileage

The tour begins and ends in Litchfield, with free parking for the week, and stops in Lebanon, Edwardsville (two nights) and Alton (two nights).

On each of the four days when we move to a new town, we offer a basic route of 45-53 miles with longer options for an extra 20 miles or so. Ride at your own pace on quiet, rural, mostly flat roads and on the area’s trails, and enjoy plenty of time each day to explore the small towns and attractions along the route and in our overnight host towns.

The third and fifth days will be layover days, during which you can explore sites and other local attractions, ride trails and rural roads on somewhat shorter options around Edwardsville and Alton. Or, just enjoy the days however you wish.

Preliminary Route Mileages (subject to change)
Day 1: Litchfield to Lebanon
Basic Route – 52.4 miles, +815 ft climbing (camping) or 51.8 miles, +674 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 73.1 miles, +1,306 ft climbing (camping) or 72.6 miles, +1,200 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 2: Lebanon to Edwardsville
Basic Route – 41.2 miles, +933 ft climbing (camping) or 44.9 miles, +966 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 61.4 miles, +1,314 ft climbing (camping) or 64.9 miles, +1,346 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 3: Layover day in Edwardsville
Long Route – 48.4 miles, +740 ft climbing (camping) or 47.5 miles, +679 ft climbing (hotel)
Shorter options – 31.1 miles, +687 ft climbing (camping) or 27.6 miles, +531 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 4: Edwardsville to Godfrey/Alton
Basic Route – 49.1 miles, +1,172 ft climbing (camping) or 47.3 miles, +1,033 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 73.0 miles, +1,728 ft climbing (camping) or 71.3 miles, +1,551 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 5: Layover day in Godfrey/Alton
Basic Route – 36.2 miles, +1,258 ft climbing (camping) or 36.1 miles, +1,148 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 47.7 miles, +1,821 ft climbing (camping) or 47.7 miles, +1,717 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 6: Godfrey/Alton to Litchfield
Basic Route – 44.8 miles, +1,316 ft climbing (camping) or 46.0 miles, +1,317 ft climbing (hotel)
Touring (long) option – Adds 4.5 miles, tourist sites

Campsites (Not available for 2021 GIBT)

Please note that our camping option is not available for 2021 but we plan to have the camping option again for the 2022 Grand Illinois Bike Tour.

Designated group camping sites will be at Lebanon’s Horner Recreation Park, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Godfrey’s Lewis and Clark Community College. Those camping before the tour on Saturday night are encouraged to book reservations at Lake Lou Yaeger, in Litchfield, about three miles from the start location.

All breakfasts and dinners (10 meals in total) and luggage transportation are included for campers. SIU-Edwardsville and Lewis & Clark have shower facilities; shuttling to showers will be provided in Lebanon (or you can walk or ride 1 mile to the facilities).

Most riders provide their own tents and camping gear, but rentals and other camping services are available — see “Extra third-party services,” below.

After your day on a bike, join the fun at campsite evening singalongs. Two returning campers plan to bring a guitar and banjo – let us know if you’d like to bring an instrument, too.

Hotel Option

Over the years, our hotel option has grown in popularity. This year, 100 spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for our primary hotel option. The primary hotel option is full for 2021; but, we have opened a secondary hotel option. Both single and double occupancy options are offered. Hotel fees are listed under Registration Rates above and include transportation of your luggage from hotel to hotel each day.

Those wishing to stay in a hotel before the tour on Saturday night are encouraged to book reservations at the Baymont Inn & Suites – Litchfield.

Hotels (Primary)
Sunday night: Best Western Plus MidAmerica, Mascoutah/Lebanon
Monday night: TownePlace Suites & Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Edwardsville
Tuesday night: TownePlace Suites & Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Edwardsville
Wednesday night: Hampton Inn & Best Western, Alton
Thursday night: Hampton Inn & Best Western, Alton

Hotels (Secondary)
Sunday night: LaQuinta Inn, O’Fallon
Monday night: Country Hearth Inn and Suites, Edwardsville
Tuesday night: Country Hearth Inn and Suites, Edwardsville
Wednesday night: Super 8, Alton
Thursday night: Super 8, Alton

Catered dinners will be provided on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. This year, these dinners will be available for pickup at your hotels to calm health concerns. On Monday and Tuesday nights, hotelers will be on their own for dinner (factored into the price). All hotels will provide breakfast in the morning.

Bikes will be kept in hotel rooms and not at the campground. One 40-pound bag per registrant will be accepted.

Each year, a couple riders want to sign up for double occupancy without already having a roommate in mind. Please email us and we can put you into contact with others in this situation, to find a roommate.

Contact info@rideillinois.org with any other questions regarding the hotel option.

Extra Third-Party Services (Not Available for 2021)

This option is not available for 2021; but, we expect it to return for the 2022 Grand Illinois Bike Tour.

Events Bike Ride Services offers other options for all riders including massages, bike cleaning, and transport for those leaving the ride early.

For campers: Tent, towel and chair rental is available, as is tent set up/take down as well as VIP luggage service (don’t need to find your luggage).

Make arrangements with Glen Morey directly.

Ride & Fundraise for Better Biking in Illinois

The Grand Illinois Bike Tour is the only multi-day ride in Illinois that specifically raises money to support the goal of a more bike-friendly Illinois. Proceeds benefit Ride Illinois, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to make bicycling better in Illinois.

We encourage all participants to fundraise a minimum of $100 on top of the registration fee to better support the costs of the ride and help propel Ride Illinois’ mission to make biking safer and more enjoyable statewide.

The fundraising program is optional but is strongly encouraged. Riders can also make a donation in lieu of fundraising.  Contact info@rideillinois.org with any questions.

Ride Illinois is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations supporting a rider are tax deductible. All donations from personal fundraising will be distributed to Ride Illinois and are nonrefundable.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Please review our revised Cancellation and Refund Policy – which applies for all. 

We know these are uncertain times. For the 2021 GIBT, we are revising our cancellation and refund policy to allow for a full refund, minus any credit card processing fees, until May 12. From May 13 to June 3, the cancellation fee will be 25% of your total payment, plus the credit card fees. From June 4 until the ride, no refund will be issued.

If needed, riders may transfer their registration to another rider at any time, for any reason, at no cost.  This is also true if the ride is full and there is someone on the waiting list willing to take your spot.  However, after May 18, we cannot guarantee the correct t-shirt size for the substitute rider.

Finally, no refund will be given for:

  • Participant’s late arrival
  • If a participant chooses to leave the tour for any reason after the first day
  • Food, lodging, side trips or other services for which a participant paid but did not use

Please note that the Grand Illinois Bike Tour is Ride Illinois’ largest annual fundraiser. The funds raised from the Grand Illinois Bike Tour helps us to continue our advocacy work to make Illinois a land of safe and enjoyable bicycling for all; and to promote bicycle access, education and safety.

Third-party trip insurance is highly recommended for these unexpected situations.  Silent Sports is one provider option  – for example, a rider aged 60-69 would pay $46 if camping, $61 if double-occupancy motel.


Would you like to participate in the tour but not ride every day?  Or, do you know someone — perhaps a significant other — who wants to come along but not bike? Maybe you are with a group of riders that want to ferry a vehicle around for the week. We are offering discounted or free registration for volunteer drivers and extra vehicles to help with SAG ride support, water stops, and to give us a hand in case of emergencies. Please contact us at info@rideillinois.org if you might be interested.