New Buffalo is about seven miles due north of the Indiana border, which would not be so noticeable if both Michigan and western Indiana were in the same time zone. Some of our cell phones picked up signals from across the border, so according to half of them we woke up at 4:00, while the others displayed 5:00. Either way, when we woke up it was dark and stormy, so we all got our rain gear and anticipated a nasty, wet day that actually became very beautiful very quickly. As soon as we ate breakfast and were ready to go it stopped raining entirely, and by the time we had our 30 mile lunch break in Indiana (at 8:50 in the morning) most people had thrown their jackets in the van.
The ride was from the eastern half to the western half of Lake Michigan and almost entirely along the lake, which was gorgeous. We biked through Indiana's lakefront park up until Gary, when forests and streams suddenly turned into factories and steel mills. I got two flats outside of Gary, but four people independently pulled over to check if we were okay, and one of them donated money to Habitat. I'm pretty sure US Steel owns the city of Gary. All of the businesses and trucks seemed affiliated with the nearby US Steel plant, and the promotional signs around the city for Gary had the US Steel logo. It seemed to fit; Gary's city hall was surrounded by smoke stacks, and the city's minor league baseball team whose stadium we passed was apparently called the Railcats.
Riding into Chicago was, as expected, beautiful. By the time we crossed the border from East Chicago, IN to Chicago, IL it was sunny and warm, and the skyline was visible from at least 20 miles away on the route. We took a lot of stops in Chicago—some accidental, like when Meg and Rebecca each ran over a staple five or so miles apart, and some really fun, such as when some riders stopped at a deli and others got Italian ice at Navy Pier. The lakefront bike path was a lot more dangerous than we anticipated. Because it was such a nice day, there were a lot of (amateur) bicyclists out, and when Clay tried to pass two women taking up the entire lane he fell and had to stop riding for the day. Otherwise, the ride was really pleasant, and if some of us hadn't gotten lost a block away from the church in Evanston, we would have made it on (Central) time by the 4:30 deadline.
Some of the riders who still had energy hit the town after dinner, visiting Wrigley Field and a comedy club, Improv Olympic. During one of the prompts at Improv Olympic the troupe asked the audience for "an object that you would normally keep hidden." We shouted out "chamois butter," but instead of asking us what chamois butter actually was they made up an imaginary car-washing concoction that smelled like kittens "with a hint of raspberry." It wasn't until the El ride back to Evanston that we were finally too drained to stay awake.