I pedaled out of Elkhart excited for my next stop in Beverly Shores for a few reasons. First, I was still riding high from the ride through Amish Country and the Pumpkinvine trail the day before. Second, I was excited to see a part of the Chicagoland area I’d never been to before (or even really heard of before I started planning this ride) despite dozens of trips to the city over the years. But most of all, it would signal the end of my third big leg of this ride and the beginning of the fourth after what was sure to be a phenomenal rest day in one of my favorite cities. The reality of the day turned out to be far better than I could have imagined, like so many days before on this ride.
But first, breakfast at Happy’s Kountry Kitchen, a dive on a very long, flat stretch of US-33 along the train tracks.
I may complain about the wind a lot, but it’s hard to overstate how much of a barrier it is to forward momentum on a loaded bicycle. And on 33 it was a bear. Just a wall of air blowing right at me head on. But I’m stronger than when I started in New York, and although I may have slowed down because of the wind, I didn’t slow down a lot.
I tend to snack on similar things during the day, and for better or worse, Gatorade has been a staple. I go for the “glacier cherry” or “strawberry” quite a bit, and it gets old. Which is why this was such a surprise:
What isn’t a surprise, however, was how much this flavor didn’t work in Gatorade. I still downed it though.
Soon enough I made it to Mishawaka’s Batell Park to catch the Riverwalk for a bit, and instantly got jealous of these kids:
I wish I had a playground like that when I grew up.
The Riverwalk was yet another great trail to ride on, hugging the St. Joseph River.
Canada geese have been hissing at me since the east coast, as I tend to roll where they’re minding their young. But this gaggle outside South Bend was formidable:
And then a Bridge told me I was in South Bend.
Some people may make a big deal about this and want to make a pilgrimage to Notre Dame. The thing is, I don’t really care. I was more thinking I was in the birthplace of Umphrey’s McGee. And also watching out that I didn’t take a tumble into the river with how close the trail came to it:
I had a bit of fun moving west out of downtown South Bend:
I was surprised the radar gun even recognized my bike, and I was just as surprised that I was rolling at 14mph with how much wind I push against all day. I don’t have any way to gauge speed on the bike, so I never really know. Most of the time I don’t want to either. Quantification on a ride like this is a distraction.
I made a wrong turn down a side street and found the best street name you can get:
But the road went on…
I was feeling great and my excitement at seeing the Dunes was growing more and more with each pedal stroke. I was nearing Beverly Shores, my destination for the night, when I hopped on the Calumet Trail:
I spent a few miles on the hardpack, hearing the crackles of electricity run through the power lines above me. I was flyin down this trail effortlessly. I couldn’t believe how much more competent I’ve gotten on “off road” trails like this since the gauntlet that was the C&O. I guess if I could take that I can take anything.
I got off the trail to meet my host at the beach, but I got another reminder that Chicago wasn’t far:
I made it to the beach to meet my host for the night, Geoff, and his son. My jaw was on the ground staring at Lake Muchigan just long enough before they rolled up on their bikes to greet me. I got a quick picture:
Geoff’s family had an absolutely gorgeous home in a landscape to match. I was blown away by the beauty of the Indiana Dunes, and even more so by Geoff’s hospitality. I had a wonderful shower and before I joined his family for dinner his son wanted to show me his room and all around his beautiful property.
It turns out Geoff and his wife met at culinary school, which means I got treated to an absolutely delicious meal, complete with plenty of bike geek chatting and making new friends.
After dinner we looked into my route into Chicago the next day, and I opted to take Route 12 through Gary and East Chicago before hitting Illinois and Chicago proper.
I was offered a beautiful tent in Geoff’s yard but decided to hang my hammock instead. I got a few rain drops over night, but it was worth it: