Saturday, June 23, 2012

riding the lakefront into Indiana

The secret is getting out that Northwest Indiana provides some excellent cycling opportunities. CCC rides have been branching into Indiana for several years with rides into Hammond, Whiting, Highland, Munster, and East Chicago. Indiana has developed some nice bike trails, traffic is usually light on the streets and trails, and there are few stoplights in many areas.

One problem has been the lack of an easy connection between Chicago and these Indiana roads and trails. On June 16th, the CCC checked out some of the connections and bike paths in Whiting, including a brand new path that flies over busy Indianapolis Boulevard. Ride leader George Vrechek and sweep Howard Lo rode with 12 other riders on this 45 mile round trip from Buckingham Fountain through northwest Indiana to the historic village of Marktown.

Marktown is an industrial village of 100 buildings designed in 1917 by noted Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw with landscape architect Jens Jensen. The entire village is on the National Register, however, it has suffered because of one owner who controls several vacant homes and has refused to improve or safeguard the structures.  Local historic preservationist and lifelong resident Paul Myers has been fighting almost single-handedly to save the town.

Riders in front of Paul Myers' home in Marktown
In addition to Marktown, the ride included the Whiting lakefront parks, Hammond’s casino and marina, the new minor league Whiting Oilers baseball stadium, a ride through what seemed like the middle of the huge BP refinery, a trip right along Wolf Lake, and two obscure connections back to Chicago. The entire trip in Indiana (and most of the trip in Chicago) was devoid of any stoplights, although a train held up the group for a short time.

Howard Lo and Richard Moellering help get Brian Cullnan’s crank back together
with Tony Burdick’s tool kit.
Despite the hot conditions, participants stayed cool and worked well together fixing a flat and sticking a loose crank arm back on. Lunch was dining alfresco at Skyway Dogs, which always provides fast, reliable service. We were back downtown by about 2PM.

Fine dining at Skyway Dogs
For a change of pace, look for CCC rides that venture slightly into Indiana or cover the southeast side of Chicago.

    - George Vrechek

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