by: Leila Jacobson
Yesterday, we awoke to a brilliant breakfast prepared by Veronica’s family. I have never had such delicious eggs in my life! We wanted to leave promptly due to the looming thunderstorm forecast for that day, so we said our good byes to the Bradley family and thanked them so much for the amazing day we had spent on their farm. We then hit the road and embarked on our ~45 mile ride that would end with us reaching the Indiana Dunes State Park.
The ride was by no means easy or predictable. Early on in our ride, our group banded together to try to figure out a problem with Mandisa’s gears while Danielle and Gurt reattached Danielle’s pedal. After that impromptu mechanic session, we continued on until we reached Rainfield Organic Farm. Although we did not have a tour scheduled beforehand, after talking briefly with the owner, Shane, he was more than happy to lead us through his farm. Shane is the sole full-time worker on his farm, but two interns were going to come this week to help him out. Although the farm is small in size (less than 10 acres), size was not the biggest challenge for Shane. He was able to plant a lot of produce with the space he had to work with, however, it’s getting people to buy the product that is the real difficulty. It was incredibly fruitful getting the opportunity to talk to Shane. Rather than coming from a farming family, Shane became involved in farming through volunteer work. After discovering that this is what made him feel the most fulfilled, he decided to commit to starting a farm.
Due to lingering sicknesses, half of our group decided it was best to allow their bodies to heal and jumped into the van for the rest of the ride that day. The remainder of us continued on, only to be stopped less than a mile away from the farm because of some more mechanical issues. But we were not deterred and kept pedaling! One of the most incredible views was coming up over a big hill on Michiana Drive and seeing the blue water peaking out over the top. I was initially so confused by it that I thought it was some strange filed of blue corn! It was very interesting biking down Lake Shore Drive. I wasn’t used to having water right next to me or being surrounded by extravagant houses on either side.
We were faced once again with bike problems when AJ got a flat. But, like everything else that day, we accepted this instead of being discouraged that we were “losing” time or that our course of action had slightly deviated from course, and carried on.
Even when our bikes where running smoothly, the weather had different plans for us. Throughout that day, we were drenched with the occasional intense rainstorm. These storms posed the most difficult hurdle when we were venturing on Calumet Trail. This trail was basically composed of sand and gravel. This terrain mixed with the heavy rain made it incredibly difficult to bike because at times we were pedaling through a couple feet of water in the mud. But even though it was hard, it was also incredibly exhilarating! I had never biked on such an unpredictable path, and I’m very thankful that I got the chance to see what pushing myself in this environment felt like. Also, after prompted by Mandisa’s singing, I sang at the top of my lungs as I pedaled through the mud. It was so fun and exceptionally therapeutic!
After a seemingly endless seven miles on this trail, we made it to camp. We took some time to go explore the beach and then we enjoyed a delicious stir fry dinner. We ended the night by having a really nice talk in a circle about people’s experiences on this trip thus far.
This day was a very challenging day personally. I had volunteered to lead the night before (to try and push myself out of my back of the pack comfort zone), and I was terrified! I worried that my pace was too slow and that I would get us lost. Fortunately we did not get lost, but I did miss the turns several times. Oops! Although I wanted to be a confident leader all by myself, I realized that it’s still totally fine to rely on others to help me out. After my initial unease, I really enjoyed biking in the front!
Something that has been on my mind this trip is how connected everything is. We bike by what seems like endless, flat farmland, only to be greeted with an interstate a mile away. The places that we have been visiting are not in some far away fantasy realm.
Calumet Trail is also an example of the proximity of seemingly opposing things. We were biking down a beautiful, worn down path with a brilliant stand of trees to our right, telephone poles on either side of the path with wires looming over our heads, and a railroad track to our left. It made me feel kind of jumbled with all the different stimuli, but it was really interesting to think about.