Biking Fun Near and Far
Once you mastered the daily bicycle commute or found a group that does recreational rides to places and at a pace you enjoy, you might be ready to roll onto new adventures. There are lots of options for cycling tourism, from fully supported with a tour operator, hiring someone to make all the arrangements so you can ride on your own, or self-planned and/or self-supported, either with camping or stays in hotels and bed and breakfasts. It is s always fun to her about trips others have made so you can decide if you want to duplicate it. At the Nov. 19 Evanston Bicycle Club meeting we heard about two types of trips, one relatively near and another farther.
Joe Gayle has ridden the two-day Amishland and Lakes invitational that starts in LaGrange, Indiana 13 times the last weekend in July. It is a self-guided event in that you ride at your own pace on routes from 22 to 100 miles the organizer’s plan for the participants in advance. There is an optional ride on the Pumpkin Vine trail on Friday. Although only about 150 miles from Chicago, it is a world away from a city cycling experience--quiet backroads where buggies are as numerous and cars are few. There are other rides in the Midwest that feature wide open spaces and quiet country roads, but this event is a step above due to the food. Besides the organizer’s rest steps with fruit and baked goods, there are Amish roadside stands offering ice cream, root beer floats, lemonade, ice tea, hand pies, bars and cookies for the price of a donation, a welcome refreshment on a hot summer day. If you do not want to ride by yourself, there is always an Evanston Bicycle Club group that you can hook up with and join for a group dinner.
For something more exotic we then heard from Bill Benjamin and Alana Purcell who went on three bike and barge trips in Europe in the past year. These trips were organized by International Bicycle Tours based in Connecticut. They were fully supported tours that include overnight accommodations and meals on a renovated 100-year-old barge that motors from town to town on canals. When you get off the barge each day you use rental bikes to explore the small towns led by a local guide of routes rated easy to moderate of 7 to 35 miles per day. There were prearranged stops for tours of local museums and attractions. Each barge trip included a chef that prepared gourmet meals for the 20 or so participants each evening. Over the past year they did three separate tours in France, Germany, and the Netherlands and have the pictures and stories to prove it. It is not too soon to begin to plan your own cycling adventures in 2020!
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