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Chicago to Indianapolis - first trip advice

Old 04-06-16, 02:26 PM
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Chicago to Indianapolis - first trip advice

Hi there!

So I am currently bikeless, but about to get a new cross bike that I want to start taking on long trips... first one, Chicago to Indy (or the other way around). Now I have never done a long trip before, and I am planning on doing this one with a friend that also has zero experience. We don't want to stay in hotels, so we are thinking of doing some stealth camping/hammocking along the way (I backpack a lot so I'm a veteran with that). Total trip seems to be just around 250 miles, so we are planning two nights / three days or travel time.

That is basically the extent of the planning, besides that we know we want to do it around June or July. What are your thoughts? What would you suggest I start thinking about / doing before the adventure begins? Any tips or suggestions?

Thank you all!
Thomas
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Old 04-06-16, 02:48 PM
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Do you have a route yet?
May I suggest this decent campground, just southeast of Lafayette, IN for your last evening before you're in Indy.

https://sites.google.com/site/bigfishncampground/
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Old 04-07-16, 07:22 AM
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I thought about doing this trip last summer (Indy to Chicago direction), but couldn't in the end. I'm still considering it for the future. If yo u go, I'd love to hear a trip report!
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Old 04-07-16, 07:41 AM
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Having toured through IL (e.g., Moline, Streator, Iroqouis) and IN (e.g., Fletcher Lake, Huntingdon, Monroeville) in July, I would think about not picking that month. Temp were near or above 100 every day with super high humidity. The night's low in Fletcher Lake was 85. Corn provides very little shade.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:17 AM
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How experienced are you with biking long distances? 83 miles a day, three days in a row is pretty ambitious for a first shakedown ride. I did a little over 55 miles there and back with a rest day in-between last summer for my first and it was more difficult than expected. Do you have ultralight gear since you have backpacking experience? If not, consider shortening the distance or increasing the number of travel days. Many fully loaded tourists shoot for 50 miles a day and even that takes training to get up to. For example, for my upcoming tour I'm starting off with 30 - 40 miles until I feel more able. I recommend doing a two day, one night trip to get your gear in order first. For your first couple tours it's best to bring a little too much than not enough. For a preliminary shakedown there are many good options in Chicagoland. Check out Trail Link for some local routes ( https://www.traillink.com/trail-maps/...irie-path.aspx Select "Nearby Trails" and "Google Bike Maps" and unselect the rest to see what paths are in the area). Are you in Chicago Proper or the burbs?

Also, why Indy? Are you meeting someone there or are you looking for an Amtrak back home? The reason I ask is because you'll be going through some real boring corn fields for much of the trip. Have you considered going North into Wis? Trees, hills, and wetlands are a joy to bike through. If you want to, you can also go East then swing North along the lake.
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Old 04-07-16, 10:41 AM
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Climate
I like weatherspark.com for it's yearly averages pages, and previous year's day-by-day detailed graphs.

For instance, Lafayette IN averages: The average high in July is 86F, but the time in a 24 hour day spent in "hot--85F to 100F" is only 14% (about 3.3 hours), and the time in "warm--75F to 85F" is 38% (about 9 hours). And the "dashboard" shows that the 90th percentile is 93F--90% of the time, it'll be at or below 93. (Even farther south, in Cincinnati, temperatures rarely go over 95F.)
July is the peak thunderstorm period, a 27% chance of a thunderstorm sometime during the day. So be prepared for rain.
Humidity--it can be quite humid in the summer, but the humidity normally drops as the temperature increases. It can be close to 100% at dawn, then drop to the 60-70% range in mid day.

Riding Distance
It is pretty flat. Strava Route builder reports about 3500 to 4000 feet of climbing over 250 miles. That's only 16 feet per mile. The lack of hills will help new touring riders. But--it can always be windy, so maybe planning to do bigger mileage might not be best. Perhaps you could be flexible, and add a day or two if the riding gets slow.

Stealth camping

I don't get to NW Indiana too often, but it does seem to be short on woodlands. Finding a good stealth campsite might be difficult.

Are you leaving from Chicago or Indianapolis? A one-way trip?

Last edited by rm -rf; 04-07-16 at 10:53 AM.
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