While pondering new Ride to Eat destinations recently, I asked BikerBob for some recommendations. He suggested several places that support the magazine, including Knuckleheads Roadhouse in Washburn. Scheduled to host its first BikerSpot Sunday Funday that weekend, Knuckleheads became the obvious choice. But, I will get to those other places he mentioned soon.
It was a glorious Sunday. The forecast called for sunshine and a high of 80 — time to ride!
I was absolutely relieved to be on the bike. Yeah, relieved. Work was a bit — okay, a lot — busy at the time, and I needed a break. Thankfully, 10 minutes on the bike is like three days on the beach for me. (That’s why it’s called “wind therapy.”)
We wandered here and there on our way down into the Illinois River valley, choosing a new direction on a whim. The fresh air cleansed my mind as I gazed over the spring green landscape. Everything felt alive again, renewed after the long, cold winter.
As we passed the Marshall County State Conservation Area, I noticed a low-lying meadow blanketed in purple flowers. It really was beautiful. With no safe place to park on the road for a photo op, we pulled over at the parking area just a bit further along where there was another purple field. We had been riding that road for more than three years, and I don’t remember ever seeing that phenomenon before. Makes me wonder what caused it this year…
Just over the river bridge in Lacon, there’s a small public marina. Wanting to share more photos of our adventures, we decided to pull over to get one. The marina was busier than I expected for a Sunday morning. Heck, even a county patrol vehicle was idling in the lot. The river was rather calm, a nice change from the choppy waves that come with cold weather.
After our pleasant, not-nearly-direct route to Washburn, we quickly found the bar and grill just outside town.
I’m not kidding when I say we were still in the parking lot and already were impressed. Someone was blowing loose gravel off the lot in preparation for all the bikes that would be coming and going all day. Nice touch!
Inside was much bigger than expected. The expansive bar offered plenty of seating, so we claimed a place with a clear view of the stage and grabbed some menus.
I appreciate how they don’t try to be everything to everybody, instead seeming to stick to what they do well. Their “Riding Snacks” include jalapeño poppers and cheese curds, as well as three types of chicken sandwich, cheese dogs and a few more options. From there, they feature three main categories: burgers, wings and salads. Having skipped breakfast, we both went for a “half-pound of fresh 100% American Angus Chuck” burger and side.
My Mushroom and Swiss was outstanding. The large burger was cooked well, but not too “well,” and had a thick layer of mushrooms. Where the sandwich really won me over was the cheese — two slices! Most places only give you one, but the double is where it’s at, especially for such a large patty. Not surprising if you’ve read my articles before, I chose the beer-battered mushrooms as a side. (Apparently, I was feeling mushroom-y that day.)
His selection — the Knucklehead Deluxe — was nothing less than awesome. With bacon, cheese, onion rings, barbecue sauce and traditional toppings, it was a mouthful. The sauce paired well with the burger, bacon and cheese, while the rings added an interesting twist on a typical onion topper. After taking my obligatory sample bites for “research purposes,” I decided that the Deluxe would be on my order on our next visit, along with the tasty crinkle cut fries he let me try, too.
Quite satisfied with our meals, we sipped our drinks and watched the staff finish their preparations for Sunday Funday. We decided to hang around a bit to say hi to BikerBob and crew and to see the band play a few songs before heading back out to enjoy an afternoon of riding.
It was a pretty straight shot home, but Wally wanted to stop in Lowpoint for a photo by the old high school, where his father attended. It’s an interesting old building, but it makes me sad to see a place dedicated to learning abandoned in such a way.
I chuckled as we headed back out of town, explaining to him that there were some people standing by a truck across the street watching our little photo shoot and I was wondering what they must’ve thought.
Traffic picked up as we reconnected with 116, which made me happy to be so close to home. It had been such a great day of riding, I didn’t want to taint it with the stress of other drivers. The sun was shining, the wind was light and the grill called our names — ah, summer.
Note: Knuckleheads Roadhouse is located at 895 N. Francis in Washburn, Ill., and opens daily at 10 a.m.