Based in Carbondale, Illinois, Matt Kupec is the chief executive officer for the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Foundation. He joined the foundation in 2018 and oversees the management of the SIU Foundation including all fundraising activities at the school. Beyond his work as a fundraising professional, Matt Kupec enjoys staying active through weightlifting and cycling.
Cycling opportunities in Southern Illinois have been good for some time but opportunities for mountain bikers are scare but they are in the process of getting better!
Cyclists living in Illinois have a range of trails to consider for their next outing, including numerous out-of-use railways that have been converted into multi-use paths known as rail-trails. The Illinois Prairie Path is one of the most popular trails in the state, and for good reason. One of the first ever inductees to the Rails to Trails (RTC) Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, the 57.4 mile route carves through Cook, Du Page, and Kane Counties. The path was instrumental in the creation of future rail-trails and continues to welcome more than 800,000 visitors annually.
The Fox River Trail, meanwhile, covers 43.4 miles of Kane, Kendall, and McHenry counties. One of the most highly rated trails on TrailLink.com, the route offers scenic views of wildflower meadows and picturesque windmills as it winds through old mill towns and a variety of natural areas, many of which are ideal for birding.
Finally, the Tunnel Hill State Trail is a 55.6 mile route encompassing four counties. Rail-trail enthusiasts will be particularly pleased with this ride, as it features 23 trestle bridges, one of which measures 450 feet in length. Additional trails to consider include the Madison County Transit Nickel Plate Trail and the Rock Island Trail in Peoria and Stark counties.
But the really exciting news awaits for mountain bikers. The SIU Touch of Nature is developing mountain bike trails to serve the vastly underserved mountain bikers who must drive long distances to find a quality trail experience. The TON property consists of over 3,000 acres of rolling hill country that has been put too many uses over the years. Plans are underway to build the region’s finest mountain bike trails as part of the Touch of Nature goal of becoming the nation’s premier outdoor education center.