Chicago Midway Airport to Rensselaer, IN – 88 Miles
I feel good about today even though most of it was spent in a tired daze from the lack of sleep last night. My flight was schedule to leave SFO at 1155 pm, but was delayed and didn’t end up leaving until 1230 am or so (330 am Eastern). I slept for most of the flight to Minneapolis and then had a short layover. Caught a few more winks on the short hop from Minneapolis to Chicago, but was woken up by the person sitting next to me and the stewardess when I had to put my seat back up as we prepared for landing. I think I was in a pretty deep sleep, because a groggy haze remained pretty much all day after that.
I flew into Chicago because it was significantly cheaper than flying into Indy and my original thought was to just catch a megabus or something from there to Indianapolis. Then, as I started to think about it, I thought why not just bike it? Sort of a nice cool down to my cross country tour. Also, it sounded like a good opportunity to try my hand at packing my bike in a box, checking it, and building it at my destination.
I was able to swoop a box from a local bike shop in SF for free and spent a good 2 or 3 hours packing everything up. I had to remove both wheels, the front rack and fender, pedals, handlebars, and rear derailleur. I was able to fit the rest of my gear in the box as well and only kept out what I might want in my carry on (one rear pannier, computer, jacket, water bottle, and some food). The box weighed in at 85 lbs at the baggage claim check-in counter which was good because the cutoff was 100 lbs.
When I arrived in Chicago my box was waiting for me at the oversized luggage area. I unpacked all my gear and took my time rebuilding my bike. All in all it took me a good 3 hours to get it ready to ride, but I was pretty excited to be able to get it all put back together. I can just imagine the possibilities that being able to quickly and efficiently breakdown, pack, unpack, and rebuild your bike can open up. It felt like absolute freedom to ride out of the airport and not have to grab a taxi, bus, or rental car.
The ride was generally nice. The beginning was though the south side of Chicago, so it wasn’t without its rough areas. Definitely glad to be riding it in the middle of the day. Most of the roads had bike lanes. As I left the city there was a bike path for probably around 40 miles. A section of the path went right through Wolf Lake (I think), which was pretty cool.
Once outside of the city it was mostly suburbs and eventually subsided to paved rural county roads. Much more scenic than I had expected for some reason and I was feeling great even with my lack of sleep. I had originally planned to stop at Indiana Dunes to camp, but decided to just pedal as far as possible along the Google maps route to Indianapolis as I could go. I reached out to someone on Warmshowers since I figured I would have to bush camp otherwise. The first hosts I called, Kyler and Kimberly, said I was welcome to stay.
I made it to their farm just as the sun was setting. I’ve always really enjoyed Indiana sunsets. There are usually plenty of clouds that the sun can make great colors with and tonight was no exception.
It felt great to get back in the saddle on a fully loaded bike again after a couple weeks off. Excited to try to push some big miles tomorrow!