Thanksgiving riding in Indiana



It has been a cold, wet, windy, and fun Thanksgiving up here in Northern Indiana. No mega climbs, but lots of fun roads to explore with small rolling hills nearly constantly if you pick the right roads.

Saturday’s ride to Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes (Updated 11/28)
For my last day of riding in northern Indiana, I wanted to get as much climbing/hills as possible so I headed over towards Lake Michigan and along the “morraine” — leftover hills from the ice age. La Porte is quite a popular place for riding, and so the roads were covered with all kinds of markings (LSC – La Porte Spring Century, Hills 100, Apple/Berry markings). My garmin was not working correctly because of the rain from a couple days ago so I had to pick out my route by sight, and I ended up following a lot of these roads and getting in some good climbing on lots of fun hills. The highlight was the beautiful dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline southwest of Michigan City. The dunes are not like normal east coast sand dunes. These are much older dunes with grass, trees, and even forests taking hold and eventually replacing the sand with dirt.
Forest dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan

Typical Indiana road in the morraine (hills) area

Climbing around on the dunes with temps hovering around freezing!

Thanksgiving Day
Another riding highlight from the long holiday week of training was riding around the Potato Creek State Park near South Bend, IN on Thanksgiving Day. Kristine’s family was celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday instead of Thursday to accommodate everyone’s travel schedule (26 people!) So on Thanksgiving, Kristine and her dad decided to go hiking with Analise and Josiah. I rode the 24 miles out to meet them. It was cold and rainy so we were the only ones out on the trails in the park — which meant that the sign below could be interpreted a little bit differently than if the park was full of people.

I understood this sign to mean “have a great time and enjoy the wild ride”

Fun bike path through the woods

This bike path was 3.1 miles long one way, so by the time you doubled back and went back to the beginning you had 6.2 miles covered. I went back and forth six times, timing myself a couple of times to see if I could get my average speed up over 20mph, which was pretty hard considering how wet the path was and how you had to slow down to 10mph in some of the corners.

By the time I was ready to head back to La Porte, the rain had picked up from a light mist to a steady rain. Keep in mind the temperature was only in the mid 30s! Eventually it became a veritable downpour, and I was soaked and numb by about mile 70 when I was out of food and out of energy. I was riding along a flat road with a hill coming up in about half a mile when my legs and body decided that they were done. It felt like somebody else was pedaling the bike as I slowed down from 15mph to 10mph to 0mph on the side of the road not sure what to do. I thought about flagging somebody down in a car to see if they had any food, but my feeble attempt didn’t even slow down the first car so I just sucked it up and said I’ve only got 5 miles left, I can make it up the hill and back home.

It didn’t help that this was my first time on that particular road, so I didn’t really know where I was even though my Garmin was telling me I only had 5 miles to go. When I made it to the top of the hill, however, I recognized immediately some of the landmarks just up the road and that motivated me to pick up the pace and just push it as hard as possible all the way back home. That’s what I did and I managed to get it back up to nearly 20mph into the wind and then when the road finally turned for the last mile with a tailwind, I drilled it like it was the end of a race. That has to rank right up there with the worst “bonk” I’ve ever had.

Wednesday (before Thanksgiving)

Wednesday’s ride (the day before Thanksgiving) was colder but not quite as wet. I made it all the way up to the shores of Lake Michigan without any rain, sleet, or snow. Then I did a loop along the lakeshore and then away from the coast before heading south again. It started to sleet as soon as I made it back into Indiana. Hard, stinging, sleet with a stiff wind blowing it even harder into your face. As I made it closer to La Porte, the sleet turned to rain, which was actually better because it didn’t hurt as much — although with the temperature still hovering right at freezing all the rain was freezing onto my bike and clothes.

Sleet starting to accumulate on a frozen pond

Freezing rain accumulating on my booties

Layer of freezing rain and ice on top of my helmet

Ice on the Garmin and iBike

New Buffalo, Michigan on eastern shore of Lake Michigan

Dunes at the New Buffalo beach

Today’s ride (Friday)

Today’s ride was the coldest yet with temps hovering in the mid 20s the entire ride. Plus, the wind coming from the west was just amazing (10-15mph wind with higher gusts). So I tried to work the wind to stay warm by starting out heading east with a tailwind while my body warmed up before heading north into Michigan chasing some dark clouds to see if there was any snow in them. Alas, there wasn’t any. So after a while I made it to the road I wanted to take back into town and headed due south all the way back to La Porte just in time for the big family dinner. I took this picture of the cold horses on my way back into town.

Even the horses were freezing!

iBike heartrate and power data
Wednesday’s Freezing Rain and Sleet ride

Potato Creek Thanksgiving Day ride

Friday's cold 45 mile ride

Saturday’s ride out to the Indiana dunes

TopoCreator Maps
Wednesday – Lake Michigan

Thursday – Potato Creek
Or download the huge version (3.2MB)

Friday – Heston Hills

Saturday – Lake Michigan and Indiana Dunes


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