Ride IllinoisRide Illinois

2022 Grand Illinois Bike Tour

Ride Illinois is looking to hire a new Tour Director for our June 11-16, 2023 Grand Illinois Bike Tour (GIBT) event. See the job posting HERE.

This is a part-time, flexible-schedule, home-based (except GIBT week) contract position to do much of the planning and conducting of the event, held annually since 2003. The Tour Director will have lots of help from our other GIBT organizers, including our current Tour Director, who will be reducing his role/hours but will still coach and assist the new director throughout the process.

Our 2023 GIBT will be hotel-only, starting and ending in Kewanee, with overnights in Moline (two nights), Savanna (one), and Sterling-Rock Falls (two).  Registration is expected to open on November 1, at www.rideillinois.org, with a tentative capacity of 150 riders.    

We encourage you to consider applying for our Tour Director position, if you are interested and want to help Ride Illinois continue our important bicycle advocacy work. [Job posting HERE]

Join us June 12 through June 17 for the 19th annual Grand Illinois Bike Tour (GIBT)! Our 2022 loop will tour the heart of central Illinois. We’ll start and end at McLean County’s Comlara County Park with overnights in East Peoria (one night), Normal (two nights) and Pontiac (two nights). Join us and invite your friends (non-riding volunteers needed).

Choose among our daily mileage options for a total between 200 to 380 miles, consisting mainly of quiet rural roads as well as some paved trails around Bloomington-Normal and East Peoria. Pick between our camping and hotel options, and enjoy evenings filled with good food and socializing with riders from around the country. Proceeds benefit Ride Illinois, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization, and support our mission to make Illinois better through biking.

Our fully supported tour basics:

  • Daily route distances between 43 to 49 miles. Longer route and layover day options are available. RideWithGPS and cue sheets will be provided for navigation. (Find more information in “Route, Mileage, and Navigation” below.)
  • Campers will tent at a sports facility and in city parks, with showering facilities on-site (three nights) or nearby via shuttle trolley (two nights).
  • All breakfasts and dinners (10 meals total) will be provided for both campers and hotel guests.
  • Luggage transportation is provided in separate vehicles for campers and hotel guests.
  • SAG (pickup) support, refreshment and water 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.)
  • Important updates during GIBT will be sent  via email (with printouts for those without smartphones) or text, when necessary.
  • Join the fun after dinner at camp, as fellow riders play music and invite you to sing along.
  • Velosophie, an optional reading discussion group, meets before dinner each day. (You can view the 2022 reading list here.)

Some of the COVID mitigation steps that were incorporated for 2021 will be retained as a precaution against another potential surge and for other advantages. Some such steps include drive-thru packet pickup (more efficient), boxed catered dinners instead of buffet-lines (less running out of food items), no shuttling of hotelers to campsites for dinner, daily emails and texts as needed (better details) – instead of during-dinner info meetings, and more.

The ride is limited to 250 riders.

Registration is online. (If you would prefer a PDF, that can be printed and mailed to Ride Illinois, please email us.)

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:

  • This was my first bike trip and I loved every minute of it!! The bike routes and towns were fantastic and it was all very well organized. I was very impressed and so excited for next year!
  • The routes were great, the people even better.  Really, for all the changes and arrangements that had to be made, I think the ride was wonderful.”
  • This was my 1st multi-day bike ride. I had a GREAT time, learned a lot (about biking and myself), made new friends, and look forward to more.

In our 2021 post-ride survey, riders rated GIBT 3.76 (out of 4) overall and 3.77 in value for the money. Want more details and more reasons why you should join us? Check out our Grand Illinois Bike Tour video:

Registration Rates

Please note: To receive our discounted member rates, log-in to our membership portal.

Not sure if your membership is current? You can also log on to check! (Any questions, email us at info@rideillinois.org.)

 

Rates as of December 1, 2021:

Camping: $555 (Member rate: $520)

Single Occupancy Hotel Rooms: $1,180 (Member rate: $1,145)

Double Occupancy Hotel Rooms: $930 per person (Member rate: $895 per person)

[Note: See the Hotel Option section for info on Tier 2 hotel partial refunds and other information.] 

 

Questions? Email info@rideillinois.org.

Please read our revised cancellation and refund policy below.

The ride is limited to 250 riders.

Registration is open online or email us to request a PDF registration form.

Route, Mileage & Navigation

The tour begins and ends in Comlara Park, a McLean County facility with free parking for the week and post-ride showers available on Friday. Overnight stops will be in East Peoria (one night), Normal (two nights) and Pontiac (two nights).

On each of the four days when we move to a new town, we offer a basic route of 43-49 miles with longer options for an extra 20-25 miles or so. Ride at your own pace on quiet, rural roads and some paved trails. Enjoy plenty of time each day to explore the small towns and attractions along the route and in our overnight host towns. Three of our days will feature parts of the Route 66 Bike Route and its places of interest.

The third and fifth days will be layover days, during which you can explore sites and other local attractions, choose between the two route options we provide, or just enjoy the days however you wish.

Preliminary Route Mileages (subject to change)
Day 1: Comlara to East Peoria
Basic Route – 43.6 miles, +1,553 ft climbing (camping) or 49.2 miles, +1,527 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 65.8 miles, +2,579 ft climbing (camping) or 71.4 miles, +2,553 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 2: East Peoria to Normal
Basic Route – 47.6 miles, +1,483 ft climbing (camping) or 48.5 miles, +1,479 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 68.8 miles, +1,964 ft climbing (camping) or 69.7 miles, +1,960 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 3: Layover day in Normal
Long Route – 55.5 miles, +1,574 ft climbing (camping) or 56.0 miles, +1,596 ft climbing (hotel)
Shorter option – 37.1 miles, +977 ft climbing (camping) or 37.6 miles, +989 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 4: Normal to Pontiac
Basic Route – 47.4 miles, +472 ft climbing (camping) or 44.2 miles, +417 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 72.4 miles, +832 ft climbing (camping) or 69.2 miles, +777 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 5: Layover day in Pontiac
Long Route52.2 miles, +763 ft climbing (camping) or 56.7 miles, +819 ft climbing (hotel)
Shorter option52.2 miles, +763 ft climbing (camping) or 56.7 miles, +819 ft climbing (hotel)

Day 6: Pontiac to Comlara
Basic Route – 43.6 miles, +741 ft climbing (camping) or 42.3 miles, +731 ft climbing (hotel)
Long option – 57.5 miles, +937 ft climbing (camping) or 56.2 miles, +927 ft climbing (hotel)

Navigation 

The bicycle tour industry as a whole is transitioning away from paint-marks or stickers for route navigation, in favor of technology tools such as RideWithGPS. Reasons to move away from road marking include the dangers of the (multi-day) task, questionable legality, relationships with road agencies – and susceptibility to repaving between the time of marking and the ride. Smartphone-based RideWithGPS provides audio instructions for navigation with the ability to add other cues about rest stops, points of interest, etc. Because it uses GPS signals, which are everywhere, it will work for you in places of poor cell phone coverage, too.

In recent years, GIBT has offered RideWithGPS as an option. In 2021, only 28% of our riders used markings for their primary navigation, while most used RideWithGPS. For 2022, we are making the change, going solely with RideWithGPS (free for our tour users), printed cue sheets, and overall segment maps. This will be a big change for some, so steps we will take to help include:

  • Editing RideWithGPS’ default audio cues for better user-friendliness, and adding key info on services and sites along the route.
  • Providing in our pre-ride Rider Info Letter tips on using RideWithGPS’ audio cues and maps effectively on your phone. Also, have a “help desk” at packet pickup.
  • Creating a directory of RideWithGPS practice routes for several sample routes throughout Illinois – and elsewhere on request – so you can get used to using this method before you get to GIBT.
  • Asking riders who are already comfortable with RideWithGPS and are willing to have newbies ride with them to let us know, so we can give them a different-colored name tag on the back of their bike.
  • Adjusting our printed cue sheets to be more user-friendly.
Campsites

A camping option will be available again for the 2022 Grand Illinois Bike Tour.

Designated group camping sites will be at East Peoria’s Eastside Centre, Normal’s Fairview Park and Pontiac’s Chautauqua Park. Those camping before the tour on Saturday night may do so in the group camping area of Comlara Park, the start location.

All breakfasts and dinners (10 meals in total) and luggage transportation are included for campers. Eastside Centre and Fairview Park have shower facilities; shuttling to showers will be provided in Pontiac (or you can bike 1 mile there).

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, led by a couple GIBT regulars bringing their guitar, banjo, etc. Let us know if you would like to bring an instrument, too.

Hotel Option

Please note that our Tier 1 option is now full. There are still rooms available for the Tier 2 option.

Over the years, our hotel option has grown in popularity. This year, we have expanded our hotel option to 95 rooms in hopes of handling the increasing demand. Both single and double occupancy options are offered. Hotel rates are $930 per person for the double occupancy option and $1,180 for the single occupancy option. (Please note that there are discounts for members.) Closer to the ride, partial refunds of $60 (single occupancy) or $30 (double occupancy) will be given to those who registered for the Tier 1 rate and who stay at our less expensive Pontiac hotels (registrations on or before January 6, 2022).

The hotel option includes transportation of your luggage from hotel to hotel each day.

Hotels

Sunday night: East Peoria’s Fairfield Inn and Best Western Plus (adjacent, similarly rated hotels)

Monday night: Normal’s Holiday Inn

Tuesday night: Normal’s Holiday Inn

Wednesday night: Pontiac’s Hampton Inn, Best Western*, and Quality Inn*

Thursday night: Pontiac’s Hampton Inn, Best Western*, and Quality Inn*

Catered dinners will be provided at or very near the hotels – there will be no shuttling to campsite locations. All hotels will provide breakfast in the morning. As of now, the plan is to have evening receptions on at least some of the nights.

Bikes will be kept in hotel rooms. One 40-pound bag per registrant will be accepted. Please, no oversized luggage!

Each year, a few 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

Events Bike Ride Services is back for 2022, offering 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 (do not 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 $150 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 situations including personal or family medical emergencies:  

  1. Between registration and May 11, the cancellation fee is 15% of your payment, plus the nonrefundable credit card fees if you paid that way.
  2. Between May 12 and June 2, the cancellation fee is 25% of your payment, plus any credit card fees.
  3. No refund June 3 or after.
  4. Through June 2, if there is another significant COVID-19 surge that concerns you but does not rise to the level of GIBT tour postponement, you may cancel with the option of waiving (or donating) the 15% or 25% cancellation fee.

Third-party trip insurance is highly recommended and quite affordable for many medical and other unexpected situations leading to cancellation. Silent Sports is one provider option.

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 11, 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.

Volunteering

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.

Depending on how much one volunteers, we are offering partial to full registration discounts for those able to help us with the following tasks:

  • SAG ride support – with your own vehicle or that of another SAG volunteer, park along an assigned location on the route awaiting a call from SAG dispatch to pick up rider(s) unable to continue.  Bring them to camp or hotel and, if needed, bring their bike to the bike shop.  (Vehicles with bike racks suitable for SAG service are needed, as are 1-2 vehicles able to carry large recumbent bikes/trikes.)
  • Mobile water stop – park (your or another volunteer’s vehicle) at an assigned location, hailing riders coming by, offering them water from large jugs you have filled.
  • Rest stop volunteer – manage a rest stop along the route, including setup and takedown of food, drink, and tables.  Depending on the volunteers recruited, this may or may not also involve shopping for rest stop food and drink the night before (reimbursed, of course).

Each of the roles above have half- or full-day shifts and discounts of generally 1/6th of the cost of a camping registration per half-day worked, up to the full price of a camping registration.  Gasoline is reimbursed.

Other volunteer roles include:

  • Helping early Sunday morning with packet pick-up, for 1-1.5 hours before your riding day.
  • Emergency on-call SAG help, for unusual “all hands on deck” situations.  Often, this is a non-riding spouse with the couple’s own vehicle not otherwise used for GIBT volunteering during the week.

If you are or may be interested in volunteering, please contact us at info@rideillinois.org BEFORE you register, so discounts can be applied.