Adventure Recap: From Chicago through Indiana

The Excellent Adventure started at the Pacific Ocean at Seaside, Oregon on May 1, and ended at the Atlantic Ocean at Sandbridge Beach, Virginia on August 11, 2019.  I’m posting recaps of the Adventure, now that I have time to write about the experience.

Adventure Ride Day 43– Chicago to Winamac, Indiana

July 10 – The day after Stephanie left for Richmond, Virginia with Carol.  It’s me, brother Bob, and Rosie for the rest of the trip.  It feels strange to not be doing the ride with Stephanie.  It’s not the same.  Everyone is helping me finish the ride across the country, and I am so appreciative of the support, but I also feel that perhaps I should have cut it short to be with Stephanie during her care and recovery.  So my objective now is to finish the trip as quickly as I can to rejoin Stephanie in Richmond.  I’ll be attempting to lengthen a few segments and eliminate some rest days to meet a more accelerated schedule.  Today’s ride will be a century, to get as far into Indiana as I can.

Much of today’s ride was on very nice bike trails.  Bob and I made a plan to meet at Crown Point, IN for lunch, about 40 miles into the ride.  After rolling out of the hotel parking lot near Midway airport in Chicago, and navigating busy Chicago streets for a few miles, I turned onto the Burnham Greenway bike path.  For most of the morning, I was navigating from one bike path to another, and I had long stretches of flat, easy riding that allowed me to make good time, even as the temperature rose into the 90’s.  At one point, I lost the trail and made a u-turn on a side road, hit a sandy spot and slipped to the asphalt.  I hit my hip, which would be sore for a few more days, but otherwise was able to just get back in the saddle and keep on going into Crown Point, where Bob and Rosie and I met at a diner where we could get sandwiches and cold drinks.  We called Stephanie in Richmond to check in.

The Illinois/Indiana state line on the Pennsy Greenway, a fabulous rail trail.
The county courthouse in Crown Point, Indiana

I’d hoped to make good time the rest of the way. The temperature rose to the upper 90’s, and the bike trail gave way to long, straight flat county road.  I needed to stop frequently when there were opportunities to cool down and get ice.  My speed got slower and slower as I grinded my way in the heat down the long Indiana road.  Finally, with about 11 miles to go to Winamac, I decided I’d had enough for the day and called Bob to come pick me up.  I’d start again from this spot tomorrow.

Every little town has its story, and Winamac was no exception.  There were few options for lodging for the night, so we ended up at the Tortuga Inn.   Kind of a bohemian place, there was a barn filled with rusty farm equipment and stuff collected or crafted by the owner.  Our room was in a ramshackle cabin, with hot and cold rusty water.  I took a shower, thinking that the dirt in the water was the detritus of my long bike ride, but in fact was originating from the water pipes themselves.

The Tortuga Inn near Winamac.  Our accommodations for the night.
At least Rosie has her own bed.

Bob and I found a pub where we could get a late meal, where we met a group of local bicyclists.  They shared their knowledge of the trails I’d encounter in Indiana and Ohio, and asked me to share some of my experiences.

A good recovery meal for a bicyclist!

Miles: 96.2
Avg. speed:   14.2 mph
Ascending feet: 1,440 ft.

Peak elevation:  749 ft.
Ending Elevation:  747 ft.
Net elevation gain:  158 ft.

Adventure Ride Day 44– Winamac, IN to Marion, IN

July 11 – Flat country roads to Rochester and Starbucks, then the Nickel Plate rail-trail to Peru and lunch with Bob an Rosie. A combination of bike trails and flat country roads to Converse and a stop for ice cream.  Then the Sweetser Switch Trail to Marion.  These trails are a testament to the work being done by local communities and organizations like the Rails to Trails Conservancy to create and preserve high-quality bike routes all over the country along old railroad rights-of-way.    I made really good time today.

The courthouse in Rochester, Indiana
An Indiana hay field.  Near Peru, Indiana
Converse, Indiana
A hot day.  A long ride.  I deserve mint chip ice cream!
The Sweetser Switch rail/trailhead.

Miles: 90.93
Avg. speed:   14.6 mph
Ascending feet: 1,804 ft.

Peak elevation:  818 ft.
Ending Elevation:  809 ft.
Net elevation gain:  169 ft.

Adventure Ride Day 45– Marion, IN to Brookville, Ohio

July 12 – My third straight day of riding over 90 miles through the flatlands of the American Midwest. Most of today’s ride was on the Cardinal Greenway, another rail-trail running from Gaston, IN through Muncie and on to Richmond.  This was another day of fast riding on a trail that gently ascended for much of the way.

For an adventure to be a true adventure, there have to be opportunities to test your abilities to overcome obstacles, right?  We’ve had a few so far (getting through bad weather, bike malfunctions, and a broken wrist).  Today we had another.   The camper met its match with a low bridge.

I expected that at some point this would happen.  The RV is about 10 ½ feet tall, and while highways and most city streets have plenty of clearance for this, there are lightly travelled old roads with old railroad bridges with lower clearance than this.  Bob was trying to follow close to my route on the bike trail, and came upon a bridge which did not have any clearance warning on it.  Crunch, crunch went the rooftop air conditioner and satellite receiver.

The camper after its run-in with the overpass.

Bob was clearly feeling really bad about this (my view was that it could have been me or Stephanie doing the same thing, and this was just bad luck).  There was a point on the trail that our paths crossed, and we surveyed the damage.  Further down the route in Richmond, IN was a Camping World RV center that might be able to do the repair.  Bob headed there and I continued on the bike trail to meet him there.  It was pretty remarkable that they had a satellite unit in stock that they could install that day.  They assessed the damage to the air conditioner, thought that they had a replacement, but after a good bit of back and forth among the installers realized that the unit I needed was not what they had available.  We would have to find another place to get the work done.

The Camping World in Richmond, IN worked hard to get us back on the road fast.

This stop had been surprisingly quick, and I was able to continue on to our planned overnight stop about 35 miles down the road, across the state line in Brookville, OH, just west of Dayton.

Near Eaton, Ohio just across the Indiana state line


A too-frequent example of a roadside memorial.  This for a girl named Olivia.


A covered bridge in western Ohio.  This time the height clearance is marked– and too low for the RV.

After 3 long riding days, my butt was feeling the pain, and with the RV in need of repair, it was a good time to take a rest day the next day.   That meant we’d have time for dinner at Rob’s Restaurant, a place serving the all-you-can eat clientele with a buffet food and dessert bar.  The food choices were of a variety you’d only see in this homespun Midwest country.

Bob anxiously awaiting the output of the pancake machine at our hotel.
I’d like some of that sea-foam green cream salad, please.
Nothing like pink eggs, or marshmallows in the carrot salad.

Miles: 110.95
Avg. speed:   13.7 mph
Ascending feet: 2,100 ft.

Peak elevation:  1,085 ft.
Ending Elevation:  911 ft.
Net elevation gain:  200 ft.


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