On the last weekend of July, about ten EBC members drove to LaGrange, Indiana for the Amishland and Lakes bicycle ride. Just so you know, LaGrange is about ten miles from Shipshewana. Okay, it’s about twenty miles past Elkhart, or about two hours past Chicago’s south border, right along Route 80.
The ride covers two days and the looped routes varied from 22 to 100 miles on the Saturday and 22 to 50 miles on Sunday. Most riders seemed to prefer the 52 mile ride on the first day, and all the routes were very well marked. The area has only small rolling hills, so no real obstacles, except for the “horse apples” along the route due to the great number of horse drawn buggies. On Saturday, the Amish set up stands along the routes and sell fry pies, root beer floats, fresh made donuts and other reasons why you want (or need) to pedal a little further. The official rest stops featured fresh blueberries, cherries, grapes, and bananas in addition to the usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, nut mix and at one stop there was cold watermelon. Routes were well marked, and the scenery was very nice with lots of gardens spotted between fields of corn and soybeans. Weather was excellent with temps in the low 80s and little wind. At the end of the ride, pie and ice cream was served, and showers were available. There were a lot of riders from Kentucky, Indianapolis and Chicago suburbs, and though we could only guess at the number of bikers, the parking lots at the start were full with a hundred or so cars. The ride was very well-organized and the price was in line with similar fundraisers.
If you are thinking of pedaling this ride, a few things to think about:
-There are only a few hotels, though the Blue Gate Garden Inn is enormous, so book early;
-The county is dry so there are not a lot of restaurants nearby;
-Most shops (and there are plenty in Shipshewana) close at 5 PM on Saturday and NOTHING is open on Sunday;
-The fine Amish Blue Gate restaurant in Shipshewana is highly recommended, though the reasonably price buffet stops taking guests at 7 PM (we just snuck in on time); the regular restaurant is open until 9 PM;
-The second day’s routes were a bit more out of the way with very little traffic;
-Heading home wasn’t so bad because the area is in the Eastern time zone and you gain an hour driving back.