This ride really started yesterday at Buck’s Bike Shop in Valparaiso. I had forgotten to pack my bike shorts, so I asked the cashier at the Speedway on US 30 where a bike shop was. He tried to explain the route to me, but it had been too long since I lived there, and the street names were unfamiliar. Another customer offered to lead me to the store. It was only about a mile and a half away. Thanks to the guy in black with the green mini-van!
It was about 6:30 when I retrieved my bike from the storage room at the Nau’s house in Dune Acres and hit the road. I didn’t really have much of a plan, other than I was going to start out on the Calumet Trail to get to Indiana Dunes Start Park. As I remembered, the trail is not paved, but is instead packed stone with sandy sections. I would not recommend it for anyone with a road bike – mountain bikers only!
It was only about a mile and a half to SR 49. On the right, I came upon the Dune Park Station of the South Shore Railroad, a commuter line linking South Bend, Michigan City, and other Indiana cities with Chicago.
On the left was a trail through the woods leading to the park.
Since it was early on a weekday, the parking lot at the beach pavilion was nearly empty. As I rode up to the beach, I remembered doing the same thing about six or seven years ago with my son following on a trailer bike hooked to mine. I haven’t thought of that in years, and it just popped in my head.
Next, I traveled about half a mile back west to Waverly Road and Porter Beach. Then, it was south on Waverly to Porter and Chesterton. I tooled around the towns a little and found the head of the Duneland Prairie Trail. This is a paved pedestrian and bike trail that was very smooth. However, every street crossing presented a gate to go around (twice – once on each side of the street). I tried it for a couple of blocks, but found it to be too annoying. This kind of safety feature is great for children and families riding. I know the scare a parent can feel when he thinks his kid is going to blast into traffic at each crossing. But, on a solo ride, it wasn’t for me.
By this time, I was getting hungry for breakfast, so I started heading back north. After riding a little bit north and west, I found Mineral Springs Road, which is the only road leading into Dune Acres. The feeling that my superior route finding skills gave me was short lived as the road ended one block later with no crossing over I-94. I headed west to find the next crossing, which turned out to be US 20. Now, the intersection of I-94 and US 20 is a scary place for a little bike, with big, fast trucks, dirty shoulders, and lots of entrance and exit ramps. I took a deep breath and quickly pedaled through the exchange. It wasn’t too much farther where I found the other side of Mineral Springs Road and headed back to the house.
The other guests at the house, especially my sister’s in-laws, were amazed at the distance I had traveled. (I didn’t tell them that I hoped to do more tomorrow.)
Miles Ridden: 19.1
Total This Year: 19 + TBD