The Big Chicago Loop Leg 3
Cleveland to Chicago the final Leg!
I decided to take the train from Cleveland to South Bend Indiana and save a few days’ riding. By this time I’d ridden about 700 miles and wanted to have a break. As it turned out, some stormy weather was headed my way so I was glad to be on the train instead of on the road.
South Bend to Portage, Indiana, 61 miles
This day started as one of the best ride days of the trip, considering I created the route, on quiet, country roads. Rolling hills, but nothing particularly difficult. When I came across a gravel road, I had flashbacks to Missouri, but it was only about a mile and was flat. I did suffer about ½ mile on busy Highway 20 but it was over quickly. I took a break in Hudson Lake, a resort community and had a nice chat with the local food truck owner.
As I got closer to Portage, I picked up yet another bike trail and then a predicted rainstorm hit; drenching rain, lots of wind. I couldn’t find the hotel, so I invited my dripping soggy self into a restaurant to get some assistance and discovered the name had changed but the signage had not. So another half mile in the pouring rain eventually got me to my destination. I was glad to not be camping!
Portage to Chicago, 57 miles
After a couple of days to dry out in Portage, Stanley and I rode back to Chicago to visit my friend Ellen again and organize for the train ride back home. I was once more awestruck by the number of bike trails. I think this day was about 75% (I’ll try to list every one I’ve ridden at the end of this diatribe).
I picked up the Prairie Duneland Trail just 2 miles from my hotel and continued on to Iron Horse Trail, Marquette Greenway, and Lakeshore trail. Another start in drenching rain but soon it stopped and of course the humidity went up. For those of you in the Chicago area, the Marquette Greenway is a real gem and worth a visit; much of it protected wetlands.
As I proceeded onto the Lakeshore Trail in Chicago proper, and since it was a Sunday, every manner of walker and rider was out. The pedi cabs, motorized scooters, e-bikes, walkers, doggies on extend-a-leash, speedy cyclists decked out in their Lycra outfits. I guess there are no helmet laws in Indiana as few were wearing them. The last few miles to my hotel was on busy streets where there were lots of cyclists, seemingly tempting fate and trying to dominate the roads. I guess drivers are used to it. I wonder what the statistics on cycle/car accidents in Chicago are…
Thus, I ended the Big Chicago Loop. Total miles ridden, about 875 with average of 47.85 miles per day.
The biking infrastructure in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio has to be experienced to be believed. I still stand in awe of the lengthy, mostly paved trails I rode. I approximate 60 percent of the entire ride was on these trails.
In case you’re interested, here’s a list of many but not all of the bike trails I rode (some twice, out and back from Chicago):
Lakefront, Burnham Greenway, Erie Lackawanna, Pennsy, Hazel Dell, Judson Erie, Nickel Plate, Monon, Blue River, Lee Mills Creek Greenway, Little Miami Trail , Prairie Grass Trail, Galena Brick Trail, Alum Creek Trail, Westerville Trail, Genoa Trail, Hoover Scenic Trail, Galena Brick Trail, Sandel Legacy Trail, Darden/LaSalle Trails, Prairie Dunes Trail, Iron Horse, Oak Savannah Trail, Hammond Trail, Marquette Greenway, Wolf Lake Trail, Illiana Marina Trail….
Thanks to my Warmshowers hosts, the kindness and curiosity (I hope I’ve inspired you!) of the many strangers I met, Rails to Trails and the various local organizations who continue to campaign for and develop these fantastic off road cycling routes.
Amtrak return and final thoughts
I opted for a roomette car for the return leg and in all the years I’ve ridden the train, have never done this. Yes the room is small but big enough for one to two small people. There is an attendant for the sleeper car and one just pushes a button and he’ll bring water, soft drinks, ice, coffee…and he makes coffee early in the morning for those wishing to self-serve. Some rooms are bigger than others and some have bathrooms in them. They do have showers and after my two trips back and forth to Amtrak from hotel in Chicago in the high heat and humidity I just had to try out the shower. Soap and luxurious fluffy white towels are provided. Three meals per day are included and the food is quite good with a varied menu. More food than I normally eat in a single day. I’m sold and spoiled now!
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for additional fun stuff – trail work (yes, I call that fun), a supported bike tour, camping and kayaking, and more!