"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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Check out all the Lovely People We've Met Along the Way

I met Christine through my effort to reach out to the folks who are working on designed a signed
bike route encircling Lake Michigan. She and Ken met us at the Indiana Dunes State Park
to get some photos and create a press release they'll use to help promote bicycle tourism in Indiana

One of our great joys of the trip is meeting interesting, generous and helpful folks everywhere we go. We've established a routine, someone asks where we're from, comments about our Evanston Bike Club jerseys or our bikes we give them a trip card and explain what we're up to. A short questions usually becomes a longer conversation full of lots of fun stories of biking, traveling, lakes, food, weather or any number of topics. We try to get their picture and their names to share. Check out the page in the right column "Lovely Folks We've Met" to see these and sometimes a short statement of their story.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Days 1.3 , 1.4, & 1.5 Long and Cold

Our three day Route: St. Joseph to Holland to Montague to Ludington

Beautiful sunny fourth day overlooking THE LAKE at Kirk County Park

Our one-day summer morphed back into winter overnight in St. Joseph

Where day two was perfect, day three tried to compensate. Our one-day summer disappeared as winter returned. A heavy northwest wind in from the lake dropped the temperature down into the 40s making these long rides even tougher.  Days four and five got a lot better as the sun came out, but the days were still long. Yet despite the physical struggle, we enjoyed experiencing the unique, Michigan dune environment with its sky-high grass and tree covered piles of fine, yellow sand. While I've seen small and scattered dunes before along the lake's western shore I'd never really understood the magnitude of these ubiqutious giants. Where I come from hills are made of rock and dirt. Here they're made of sand. Different feel, different look. At intervals these piles give way to large rivers and in-land lakes all along the western shore. St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven … on and on it goes. So beautiful. So amazing. At PJ Hoffmaster State Park we got a little education about dunes and dune formation. At Covert County Park, Kirk County Park we got to see it up close. 

Met some lovely folks along the way. Everyone wishing us well on our journey. See our separate page: Lovely People We Have Met for a looks at their photos and a little of their stories.

Should have time to post a bit more this weekend as we have two days off the bike. Lots to think about and ponder.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 1.2 - PERFECT

Today's Route: Portage, IN - St. Joseph, MI

Finally got back to the shore at Indiana Dunes State Park

A Tail Wind Day full of sunshine through surprising Indian then up the east cost of Lake Michigan to Michigan City, New Buffalo and St. Joseph

Departed:May 18, '15, 09:24AM
Starts in:Portage, IN, US
Distance:64.6 mi
Elevation:1681 / - 1676 ft
Max Grade
6.3 %
Avg. Grade
0.1 %
Total Duration:07:45:56
Moving Time:04:37:47
Max Speed:23.9 mph
Avg. Speed:14.0 mph


Its hard to put into words how absolutely perfect this day was. Everything: the temperature, the sunshine,  the tail wind, the people, the Dunes, THE LAKE, the tail wind, the view of Chicago from the Dunes, the route on various Lake Shore Drives, the tail wind, the food.  And oh did I mention the tail wind? For those of you who don't ride a bike long distances, a tail wind is a gift from the gods. It makes your riding easy, almost like having a sail attached to your bike. A long 65 mile day becomes a "breeze." Well not quite, you still have to work at it, but it makes the whole day much more pleasant and it turned our great day into a perfect one.

 After a short 15 mile ride through the last of Indian's Duneland trail we finally get back to Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park. Several months ago I'd gotten in touch with a group of people who are working on getting a US Bike Route designated and signed for the entire circle around the lake. One member, Christine Livingston the Assistant Director for Indiana Dunes Tourism, asked if we won't mind being interviewed while at the Dunes. Perfect day for it and in we rode. Stay tuned for some press releases and maybe a local news article. But here are a few of the great shots they took while we were there.

 From there we proceeded east to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a look at some 1936 Century of Progress Homes that had been moved there by barge after the fair ended. Strange to see a pink Floridaesque building right there on the south shore of The Lake.

We all agreed, the most surprising thing of the day was how BEAUTIFUL and bike friendly Indiana was. Months ago we decided to do a counter clock-wise rotation of THE LAKE because we wanted to get what we thought would be an industrial waste land out of the way first. How WRONG we were. This is so lovely! As we only got to sample a little, Will and I are already planning a return trip - say offering a four day self-supported Evanston Bike Club ride down here to see the Dunes, travel up the Michigan coast a way, with the possibility of a train ride back on the South Shore Line. Now that's a great dream too.

Turning the corner and crossing from Indiana into Michigan we're moving northeast and the warm tail wind takes on a light coolness as it comes across the lake before it hits us. Did I say PERFECT or what!!

The rest of the day proceeded in kind as we got blown from one lakeside town to another each with their stately lake side homes, picturesque harbors and oh so welcoming while sand beaches. If ever you wanted to drop say a million or two on a house I guess this would be a great place to do it, especially if the weather were always as today.

My Seven of Hearts thinks it would like to stay at the beach all day

Jim and Will waving to the conductor of a Shore Shore Line Freight

Entering Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore

Along Beverly Shores

One of many Lake Shore Drives, this just outside New Buffalo

Michiana Rd., a SMALL street that forms the State Line

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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thanks for a Great Send Off

Saying Goodbye to a few of the Evanston Bike Club folks before their Saturday rides

THE DAY has arrived.  Headed out the door in an hour or so, determined to ride our two wheeled steeds the 1,400 miles or so around this Great Lake of Michigan. Planning, errand running, preparing have occupied my mind for weeks. Now its time to just GO and experience. Northing more to be done except to say a great big THANKS to all those who have wished us well and sent us off either in person, by phone, e-mail or text. So great to know you're pulling for us, hoping and praying for good weather. All that will push us on our way. Hope to have some great stories for you from the road.

A God Speed Farewell at Peg's

Our Stage 1 Support Crew