The Return of the Moonshine Lunch Run | Favourite Experience

Moonshine Lunch Run
A number of the 2023 Moonshine ride-to-eat members (left to proper): Steve Efthyvoulou, Scott Williams, Chuck Smolka, Randy Bridgewater, and Michael Boucher.

This Favourite Experience doesn’t embrace a route map as a result of it’s all a couple of single vacation spot: the nook of 300 Highway and 600 Avenue in Moonshine, Illinois. Getting there’s a private expertise for each rider who makes the Moonshine Lunch Run.

You could recall the story I wrote in regards to the final official Moonshine Lunch Run, which befell on April 29, 2018. However on that day, as I gathered with different lengthy‑­distance riders exterior the Moonshine Retailer, munching my Moonburger beneath a cool Illinois rain, I sensed it wasn’t the top.

Associated: Reflections on the Moonshine Lunch Run


The unique idea for the MLR, conceived by our late farmer pal Terry Hammond, simply required people to trip from someplace far. Terry knew sure individuals would make the lengthy, usually troublesome trip to Moonshine to attach with different riders who’d do the identical. The hamburgers had been nice, however the fellowship of lengthy‑­distance riders mattered most.

Earlier this yr, Bob Cust of Swansea, Illinois, introduced he was internet hosting an RTE (ride-to-­eat) on the Moonshine Retailer. I shared this with Steve Efthyvoulou, who first introduced me to Moonshine in 2010. “I’m in,” he stated instantly. We reached out to different MLR alums, together with Michael Boucher and Randy Bridgewater, plus beginner Chuck Smolka. All in.

Moonshine Lunch Run
Michigander Randy Bridgewater (left) introduced Chuck Smolka of Connecticut to his first Moonshine Lunch Run.

People who’ve finished a trip to Moonshine perceive its particular challenges of lengthy distance, changeable climate, and bodily endurance. For me, Moonshine has been the eventual vacation spot of a number of April rides that had me leaving Massachusetts after which becoming a member of associates to carve mountain roads in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, or Kentucky on the best way to southeastern Illinois. Moonshine was a waypoint on some journeys to extra distant driving areas, just like the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas, and I earned my Iron Butt certification on the Curt Gran Memorial Moonshine 1000.

In order for you a real Moonshine Lunch Run expertise, you actually need to trip there throughout April, when Terry Hammond invited people to come back. The temperature might plunge beneath freezing, but it surely may also attain 90. You’ll be able to rely on rain, and snow is feasible. It’s additionally twister season; one yr, a tornado touched down a number of miles from our motel. The solar would possibly even shine!

Moonshine Lunch Run Moonshine Store Illinois
You’ll discover the Moonshine Retailer on the nook of 300 Highway and 600 Avenue in Moonshine, Illinois, in the midst of nowhere. The burger is definitely worth the trip.

Final April, my ninth run to Moonshine was on backroads by means of the Connecticut Berkshires and New York’s Hudson Valley, over the hills of northern New Jersey, throughout Pennsylvania’s northern tier, after which onto the more and more flat, open areas of rural Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Moonshine Lunch Run Moonburger Moonshine Store
There’s no massive secret to a Moonburger…simply a big portion of recent floor beef flattened on a grill. Yum!

Sure, extra individuals go to southeastern Illinois for summer time actions. The fairgrounds in DuQuoin host a race within the American Flat Observe bike racing collection. The Illinois 300 NASCAR Cup race takes place in Madison. There are celebrations for German heritage in Waterloo and Hoyleton, Swiss heritage in Highland, and roots music and barbeque in Mt. Carmel. There are crusing occasions, a world trapshooting championship, artwork gala’s, music festivals, county gala’s, and far more.

Moonshine Lunch Run world's largest rocking chair Casey Illinois
Outsized curiosities, together with the world’s largest rocking chair, are on show all through Casey, Illinois.

Since I’ve all the time ridden to Illinois in April, I haven’t skilled summertime there. However I’ve loved visiting the city of Casey, some 14 miles from Moonshine and residential of the world’s largest mailbox, pencil, pitchfork, wind chimes, rocking chair, golf tee, and different outsized curiosities. Since my final go to, somebody added the world’s largest antlers. Each MLR has introduced me to Casey, and getting there all the time entails various levels of problem. Different riders who made it overcame their very own challenges. As Terry would say, we “get it.”

Moonshine Lunch Run
Above: Scott Williams (left) and Steve Efthyvoulou in 2010, at their first Moonshine Lunch Run. They’ve made eight journeys collectively to Moonshine.

Beneath: Scott and Steve did the 2023 run collectively. There’s much less hair nowadays – and what stays is grey – however the smiles are nonetheless there.

Moonshine Lunch Run

Because the MLR is now not an official occasion, there weren’t 1,000‑­plus riders like earlier than. This time there have been a number of dozen, with the biggest contingent being members of the Motorbike Tourer’s Discussion board. However as I’ve come to count on, the hassle to get there – and to attach with different riders who did the identical – was well-rewarded.

I bumped into Mike Brown of Harrisburg, North Carolina, whom I’d seen at a number of MLRs. “When you have been there, you need to return,” he stated. “In the event you haven’t been there, you’ll want to go!” Mike introduced alongside a primary‑­timer, Bob Candy of Harmony, North Carolina. Not like most riders who come on touring bikes, Bob made his first trip to Moonshine on a unadorned bike, his 2021 Triumph Avenue Triple 765 R.

“Once we left Harrisburg at 4 a.m., it was darkish and drizzly,” Bob instructed me. “I couldn’t inform Mike ‘I can’t do that.’ I acquired over the psychological barrier, and right here I’m.” Bob will get it!

Moonshine Lunch Run Casey Illinois
Casey, Illinois, situated not removed from Moonshine, is the adopted hometown for a lot of long-distance bike riders.

I met Darryl Halbert, who has been to each MLR since 2011, although one way or the other our paths by no means crossed. He used to stay in Atlanta, Georgia, and his trip to Moonshine would come with entertaining curves by means of the Appalachian Mountains. He’s retired now and dwelling in Denver, Colorado, so he rode to Moonshine throughout the plains. “There’s a whole lot of Kansas between right here and Colorado,” he chuckled.

I additionally met Greg Rice, a real legend within the lengthy‑­distance rider neighborhood, who instructed me about one other “lunch run” he had made. Because the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, resident recalled, “I needed to take an image of my bike by the Panama Canal.” So Greg rode to Panama. He acquired the image and had a burger for lunch. His spherical journey took 10 days.

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Considerably, some MLR traditions carried on this yr, like dinner at Richard’s Farm on Friday night and Renee Handelman’s cinnamon buns on Saturday morning. I loved my Moonburger with cheese and bacon at a picnic desk beside the Moonshine Retailer with different riders, and it was good. Quickly after, my group started our rides residence to Texas, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Moonshine Lunch Run
The Moonburger (single with cheese and bacon variant) pairs effectively with a Boylan’s birch beer.

Using east collectively, Steve and I endured the wettest day in our mixed Moonshine historical past. Over dinner in a heat, dry restaurant, we laughed about it. Journey is simply discomfort retold at leisure, and we’ve had our share of journey on our runs to Moonshine. Bone-chilling chilly. Scorching warmth. Nasty storms. Roads that turned rock-strewn goat paths regardless of maps promising in any other case.

Was this yr’s Moonshine Lunch Run similar to previous occasions? Not precisely. But it surely was at the moment’s model of excellent occasions, shared with different long-distance riders who get it. I count on Terry can be good with that.

See all of Rider‘s touring tales right here.