27 Aug 2015

Boys Of Summer by zachely

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We left Chicago on August 24th around noon. We took the South Shore trail along the edge of the city. We rode between Lake Michigan and the skyscrapers: beautiful. If we didn't grasp how large the city was from our time here, we definitely did from riding through it. After 20 miles we were still more or less in the city.

Eventually our trail ended and the well kept buildings and trees ended as well. You have to watch very closely for any sign welcoming you to Gary, Indiana; I think this is an attempt by the state to make passerby's believe they're still in Illinois. Gary was described to me as the armpit of America. It wasn't pretty and it was a bit hairy, so that's not too far off. Gary was industrial and gray. It was the kind of place that would be in a cheesy video about pollution. There would be a shot of a thriving forest and then suddenly cut to a factory in Gary billowing with smoke. I suppose someone needs to produce all the things we use, but it's never fun to see how the sausage is made.

We were staying just east of Gary with a man named Ed and his wife Monica. We called Ed last minute to see if we could stay pitch a tent, and he said he had already emailed us. We try to convince him that it wasn't us but he said "three guys from Seattle right?" So we didn't ask any questions. About 20 minutes after we set up our tents 3 other guys showed up to the house. Ed and Monica were shocked but hosted us all and fed us all two big meals.

The 3 other guys were fresh out of college and all from the UK and riding from Seattle to New York. We shared stories over dinner and delighted in the ability to talk with people who could relate so closely with the experience we've had. We did have some major differences though. For instance, they wear matching jerseys and go to bed early, while we wear camping shirts and walked down to the Flamingo bar for a night cap. The Flamingo bar was the first bar we hit where you could still smoke inside, I was sweetly reminded of this for the next couple days whenever I put my sweatshirt on.

The UK team left in the morning heading for Indiana Amish country as we went Northeast into Michigan. This would not be the last time we see them.

Photos: biking along the South Shore trail // my bike with the Chicago skyline // Owen, Jake and Rich, our new UK mates standing in Ed's garage