Friday, June 22, 2007

June 19th: New Buffalo, MI to Evanston, IL

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.

-Niko Bowie


Ryan K said...

Let me tell you a tale of Mighty Kublos, a tale handed down by my forefathers for all the eons of this planet. Kublos was king of every creature millions of years ago: a ruler of triceratops, pterodactyls, mastodon, sabre-tooth tigers, the tyrannosaurus, and so on. He had conquered all manner of beast, and they served him well. They mostly served him Brontosaurus Burgers. But 65 million years ago, something terrible happened. Kublos felt a shade descend upon his jungle fortress and he peered up into the skies. Zounds! A fiery rock was crashing into the sky, smashing into the planet's atmosphere. Kublos readied himself for the celestial onslaught: this would be his test to see if he deserved dominion over Earth. When the asteroid separated the clouds, leaving dust and darkness in its wake, Kublos dug his feet into what we now call North America. The infernal rock slammed into Kublos' manly hands, blistering him badly, and the force was so great that it drove Kublos deep into the ground and across the plains. Kublos did stop the asteroid eventually, but many of his dinosaur friends died from all the dust despite his titanic effort. In a rare show of emotion, Kublos let forth an unthinkable amount of tears and they filled the great trail left by his body. This, my fellow readers, is what we now call the Mississippi River. Not only can you thank Kublos for this, you can thank him for saving your mammalian ancestors as well. That is all.

Judy Bougie said...

Hi! to Erin and all fellow riders,
I have truly enjoyed reading all your messages. Sounds like you guys are having the time of your life. Hope Erin has been sharing all the goodies I have sent. Stay tuned for the next maildrop. Take care, stay safe and healthy!
Judy Bougie, Erin's MoM

Al Allen said...

No biker comments the past few days. OK, so it's not PA or the Great Lakes or even Chi town, but is Iowa really that boring or monotonous that we've heard nothing since you folks crossed the state line into that vast flatland? (just joking) But seriously - keep pushing onward everyone, and keep your spirits up!

Anonymous said...

Great job...sending you vibs from northern Maine!!!! Keep up this fantastic journey, can't wait to hear about it. BIG HUG Erin B. from the one who taught you well. Pedal hard,fast and steady!!!!!!!!!

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