By the OOFD lead guide of the ride: Rachel Shultz
It just doesn’t feel like summer until you’re rolling out 60 deep through the Loop, into the rising sun, loaded down with tents, hammocks, and sleeping bags and bound for an epic adventure along the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, does it? Our group of Dunes Warriors stretched the length of a city block as we made our way from our meeting place at Metric Coffee out through the quiet Saturday morning center of the city to the glittering lakefront. The air was warm, the breeze was at our backs, and the vibes were immaculate.
The ride to the Dunes is a stunning route along paved and limestone bike paths, under shady trees and through charming small Indiana towns. We were grateful for the winding roads under the oak savannah as the June sun climbed through the afternoon sky and as we pulled into the Indiana Dunes State Park we were even more grateful for the cool and welcome waters of Lake Michigan! After a sunset swim, the group settled into our campsite for the night.
Fortified by a delicious dinner of barbecue, mac and cheese, veggie sausages (and of course, s’mores) we recovered around the campfire, swapping stories and getting to know each other. After a restful night (minus a few raccoons and the occasional bobcat!) we were up with the sun to ride back to Chicago. Our return route is a study in contrasts, as we rode along Route 12 past the industrial landscapes of Gary, East Chicago, and Whiting. Passing today’s oil refineries and steel mills, we reflected on the long legacy and continuing struggle of environmental activism.
After battling through some headwinds on our return up the lakefront path (as well as fighting our way against the massive tide of Swifties flooding into Soldier Field!) our Dunes Warriors reached our promised goal: a cold beer and a seat in the sun at On Tour Brewing. We raised glasses to each other, to the Dunes, to the spirit of Paul Douglas, the Prairie Club, and all those who battle for wild spaces and places.
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"To immerse , educate, preserve & advance the history, culture, trails and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area"