"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 1.1 Complete

Today's Route: Wilmette, IL - Portage, IN

Except for the wonderful 18 mile Lakefront trail, we stayed away for
the lake to avoid congestion and industrialization along the south shore

Threatening Thunderstorms never developed. Instead we road through fog along the lakefront and then summer-like sunshine to Indiana's miles and miles of beautiful bike paths.

Departed:May 17, '15, 07:14AM
Starts in:Wilmette, IL, US
Distance:67.6 mi
Elevation:1674 / - 1586 ft
Max Grade5.0 %
Avg. Grade0.1 %
Total Duration:09:17:20
Moving Time:05:35:15
Max Speed:18.0 mph
Avg. Speed:12.1 mph

East end of Navy Pier looking back to the fog-encased Chicago Skyline


We worried all week about the weather. Really didn't want to start this grand adventure by riding in our support van because of dangerous thunderstorms. Fortunately everyone's prayers and concerns paid off - we had nice foggy weather until just past the Loop. When the sun did come out it did so instantaneously completely foggy up our glasses with the change in temperature. Strangest phenomena of the day. 

In front of Buckingham Fountain whose horses represent the Great Lakes
Looking back at the "Fog that Ate Chicago"
Today we could ride along THE LAKE for only the 18 mile Lakefront path. The rest of our route south is too congested and industrialized to travel it comfortably by bike and still stay by the water. After slowly navigating through two are three running races we made it to the beautiful South Shore Cultural center and then end of the path. I anticipated several miles of busy, rather unpleasant riding, but found instead wide bike lanes, little traffic, interesting neighborhoods, and a picturesque iron bridge. Most of this was within sight of the Sky Way. It felt like we had found a secret, passage. Thanks to all the Evanston Bike Club people who traveled this way before and passed on their routes and cue sheets.

My favorite experience of the day - catching the new Wolf Lake trail in Hammond which took us through some restored prairies and wetlands and then eventually over the lake itself on a 2014 boardwalk bridge. A bit of the bio-diverse richness right here in the heart of freeways and industry.

After lunch in Hammond we picked up the Erie Lackawanna trail taking us to the southeast and away from Gary and its steel miles. Unto beautiful reclaimed rights of way we road the rest of the day. South east was also the wind direction, so the riding became a bit of a slough until we turned directly east on the Oak Savannah trail. It feelt like our own Middle Fork Savannah in Lake Forest except the path is paved - YEA and the vegetation a bit more over grown - SAD. But, the riding was wonderful as we pass wetlands, parks and even lily-ponded lakes in the town of Hobart. There we met up with Jim who had driven the van to our destination in Portage and back tracked just to meet us - well really - to a get a nice hot fudge sundae.

We end the evening with a fabulous fish dinner in, of all place, a bait shop. A beautiful, red sunset fore tells of what should be some glorious bike-riding weather tomorrow.

Who knew that Northwest Indiana could have such great biking terrain? I guess our EBC folks have been telling us all along - I just didn't listen. Will certain come back to explore some more.
Inside the magnificent South Shore Cultural Center

Yes, we are doing the Lake Michigan Circle Tour - one of our own making
Crossing the Calumet River, through the industrialized south shore
Oak Savannah trail some of which is contained in the National Park
Lake George coming in to Hobart, IN
Our dinner stop - really has a fine fish restaurant inside

My favorite part of the day - riding the Wolf Lake path and boardwalk
in Hammond, IN


  1. Sounds like a great first day despite strange weather and those paths look marvelous :) who knew Outdoor World has a nice restaurant?!

  2. Loving your blog. Thank you for devoting your time to sharing your experiences so well. Some of us are living vicariously through you. Take care. Ride strong.