Beer Gran Fondo Due

With the vestiges of summer fading, and a longing for longer days, there is but one thing left to do. And that is Beer Gran Fondo Due. For the uninitiated, this is a continuation of last year’s Beer Gran Fondo Uno.

BFG Flags
For the record, this dork is responsible for the design

This being an event where one bikes and drinks, then bikes again only to arrive at another spot to drink, there was the mandatory safety message via gif.

unnamed
Don’t do this

The big Chicago beer news this summer was that Lagunitas opened up their new brewery in town. Even though Lagunitas was further away from all the other breweries and general fun spots that we gravitate too, their hoppy beer, penchant for fun and the fact they are now the largest brewery in Illinois made this a must-go location.

To compensate for the extra miles, less breweries made this year’s list. Though this may sound like a disappointment, the Lagunitas Tap Room made it worth our while. The other two stops? Goose Island Brewpub on Clybourn and a return visit to Revolution Tap Room-the shining jewel of last year’s ride.

Lagunitas Crew
Untitled Goose Island Revolution Crew Bourbon barrels Sticker flag
slowdogs

While Beer Gran Fondo Due was an overall success, the slowdog family couldn’t get their shit together. It all began with mrs slowdog coming to the realization that she forgot her wallet…5 miles from home. I won’t lie, I was a little smug knowing that as the general screw-up in the family, it wasn’t me that caused this delay. As it usually does though, the tides shifted into mrs slowdog’s favor as the remaining blunders belong to yours truly. It began by coming out to a flat tire after Lagunitas-on the only day since I can remember that I left my repair kit at home.

Fix-a-flat

It didn’t end there. My chain proceeded to drop from the drive chain 3 times. Again, something that hasn’t happened since before I can remember-and it hasn’t happened since either. Such iz life. And then, following several hours at Revolution Tap Room, I came out to another flat on the same tire. It turns out I had blown out the sidewall of the tire.

Blown sidewall

Aside from these hiccups, Beer Gran Fondo Due was successful. Good weather, good beer and good people. Oh, and thanks to this dork for the spare tube!

The Americana Tour

It started as a desire to get a friend out for his first overnight bike trip. And owing to the fact that he only has a single speed, we had to keep the mileage under control. So I was surprised when he wanted agreed to make the journey from my place in Chicago to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, including a couple stops at breweries along the way-about an 80 mile journey one-way. Aside from the breweries, we didn’t have much of an agenda. However, the trip took on its own identity with the passing of Americana artifacts that dotted the south Chicago and Indiana landscapes.

Our route was simple and the riding was easy (unless you happened to be riding a single speed). From my house, we headed to the Lake Front Path, then promptly turned right back around as some idiot left his wallet at home. That idiot was me. At the end of the Lake front path, we snaked our way through the south side of Chicago and crossed the Calumet River. We then toed the Illinois/Indiana Border via the Burnham Greenway and eventually crossed over to Indiana. From there we took the Erie Lackawanna, Oak Savannah and Prairie Duneland Trails towards Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We veered off and on of this route to visit different breweries-four in total-and opted to take the Metra Rail back into Chicago from the Flossmoor Station.

South Lake Front Path Museum Campus
Lake Front Path Draw bridge Erie Lackawanna Trail Bridge Oak Savanna Trail Tunnel

We expected a little rain during the day, and we got more than we bargained for. Within just miles of reaching our first destination, 18th Street Brewery in Gary, Indiana, we were hit with a downpour. There are three things that can be done during this type of situation:

  1. Wait it out under an overpass
  2. Be the super hero you imagine yourself to be
  3. Get a flat tire

I chose the first option. Andrew gave all three a try.

Waiting it out
Super Hero Fix a flat

An unintended finding on this trip was the Americana relics. And if there’s anything I’m sucker for, its old-timey, militaristic and patriotic to the point of nationalistic Americana. Of this variety, we hit gold.

Tank! Artillery! Plane! Helicopter! Americana Flag Americana Flag

This guy also was hanging out in front of the Carl Buddig distribution center. Is this the best that the cheap deli meat industry can do? I don’t even know what is happening, but I know that I like it.

Strange Carl Buddig effigy.

It wasn’t really our plan to make this a regional tour of breweries, but when we realized how many would be along our route we couldn’t really help ourselves. 18th Street Brewery in Gary, IN was our first stop, and also was convenient shelter from the rain. We also stopped at Shoreline Brewery that same evening for a beer and dinner. The next day brought us to 3 Floyds for beer and lunch, and then the Flossmoor Station Brewery-literally across the tracks from the platform for our train ride home.

18th St Beers 18th St Tap Room Shoreline Brewery Pork Shoulder at 3 Floyds
3 Floyds

Let’s not forget that we actually camped out at a National Lakeshore too. This wasn’t my first time to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, but I regard the area as a very strange place. Its tucked against the shores of Lake Michigan in the midst of industrial towns from all other sides. It just kind of gives the place an eerie feeling. There’s even a cooling station just east on the beach that’s shaped like the nuclear plant in the Simpsons.

simpsons nuclear

Also adding the intrigue is Beverly Shores with its beachfront mansions and a pocket of homes that were showcased in the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, including the Florida Tropical House. All in all, the Dunes is a neat, pretty area, and definitely worth a visit for those nearby.

Florida Tropical House Waves Burrr Dunes
Indiana Dunes

As I mentioned earlier, we ended at the Flossmoor Station Brewery, a perfect end to grab a final beer and catch the train at Flossmoor Station to Chicago. From the Millennium Station, it was a quick, but windy, ride on the Lake Front Path back home. Good stuff this biking is.

Train Windy LFP

The end…

…of summer is nigh. And mrs slowdog has left the unseasonably cold Chicago climes for sun, pool parties and Hangover slot machines.

Hangover slot machine

The thing is, she didn’t bring me along. The joke is on her though, because while she’s away I get to play bachelor!

An evening alone

And by playing bachelor I mean enjoying some bourbon and watching Battlestar Galactica. And thats not all! A friend and I are doing some weekend warrioring with our bikes to places unknown. Well, ok, they are known since it will be the Chicago metro area, but still, an adventure of bikes, breweries and night in the hammock lies ahead. But wait, there’s even more! Next weekend marks the one year anniversary of the Beer Gran Fondo, which means we celebrate with Beer Gran Fondo Due. Oh the joys that September brings!