I didn't ride as much as last year, but I did some rides that I haven't done before. Two in particular stand out in my mind: Lorie's Ride - Lakeshore Century, and The Beer Ride. Here are my impressions of these rides and a slideshow for each.
Lorie's Lakeside Century was held on September 11, 2011. It started in Chesterton, which is a few hours away and with an 8:30 start time it meant getting up pretty early for the drive up. They're on Chicago time though, so it wasn't so bad. It was a beautiful day for a ride! I'm writing this about two months after the ride, so I apologize if there is a lack of detail.
I planned to do the 62 mile route that goes up to New Buffalo, Michigan. There were also 15, 28, 38 and 100 mile options. Starting from Liberty Bible Church you are almost immediately sent down some very, very scenic two lane roads with gently rolling hills. Heading north you eventually pass some of the Dunes nature preserves before making a right turn onto Lake Front Drive and some spectacular views of Lake Michigan. The road follows the lake shore for several miles, and the first sag is on this road, offering the chance to stop and get a good look at the lake.
From there you continue on along narrow roads until you reach Michigan City. And right in front of you is the nuclear plant. Very cool to me, as an engineer, to be this close to it! On the other side is the original power plant as well. Just past this you're back on Lake Shore Drive for more views of the lake and some very nice homes. The next sag is located on the shoreline in New Buffalo, Michigan. New Buffalo is a quaint little town that appears to have lots of shops and some nice restaurants. I'll have to visit sometime when I'm not on the bike.
From there you backtrack the route through Michigan City until you get close to Chesterton where you turn east and then south. Until now, there weren't that many hills. 400E has quite a few rollers on it as you head down to the final sag stop at the Art Barn. The Art Barn was an interesting stop, with chickens running around, though they were mostly hiding from the strangers in lycra. The Art Barn sag is also the center of two loops that, combined with the 62 mile section of the ride, combine to give you up to 100 miles in total distance. But for the 62 mile riders you just head back up the hill and head home. About five miles.
At the end of the ride there was a nice lunch, complete with ice cream for desert. I have to say, that of all the rides I've done in Indiana over the years, this might be my favorite ride. I really like the route selection, varied scenery, lake side homes, and especially the views of Lake Michigan! I hope you can get a sense of this from the pictures in the slideshow.
Lorie's Lakeside Century is a benefit ride for the Visiting Nurse Association and is dedicated to the memory of Lorie Kirkley, a cyclist who lost her life to a violent crime in 1999.
Views from the 2011 Lorie's Lakeshore Century Ride
The Beer Ride was on October 29 this year. It was a mass start at a civilized time of 11 AM with registration opening at 10 AM. Fifteen minutes prior to the ride there was a costume contest, with awards for best: Rock star, Lady Gaga, Couple, Most amount of skin, comic character, superhero, athlete, scariest, junior division, bike decoration and more. Everyone who competed won a certificate.
The start headed out on a bike path for a mile or two before heading out into the country side. There were three distances, 12, 26 and 36 miles. I was on the 36 mile route and got together with a nice group of about seven or so riders. We stayed together up to the first sag, just before the first of the hill sections. There were enough hills to remind you that you were riding in southern Indiana, including one pretty steep one just past Grandview Lake, but not so many that you were wishing it was over. In fact, most of the hills were between the first and second sag stop.
In all there were three sags and a final lunch stop, which was about a half mile from the end of the ride. There was music at the second and last stops, and plenty of drinks and snacks at all of them. The wind cooperated as well, providing a nice tail wind from the third sag all the way to the end. I even had the Lady Gaga's cheering me on from the side of the road with a megaphone.
At the end there was pleasant surprise. As it was The Beer Ride, all the riders received a complimentary beer from the Powerhouse bar, a co-sponsor located right at the start finish. And a delicious beer it was indeed. After a cold start in the morning, the ride ended with temperatures near 60 and bright sunshine. Kathi and I enjoyed our beer outside at a cafe table and got to watch other riders, costumed and otherwise come in after their ride.
The ride is a benefit for the Clifford Volunteer Fire Department. And if you didn't get a t-shirt, then you don't have one of the coolest ride shirts ever! Thanks to Goblin Jon for getting the whole gig together. It's definitely a ride you should do at least once. I'll be back next year.
Views from 2011's Beer Ride