For next summer's big cycling adventure, I'm thinking about trying to ride from around 40th and Western to my friend's place in southwest Michigan in Bridgman. It's not too far from the Greenbush in Sawyer. I think I can see how to go most of the way, but some time on the Red Arrow Highway seems almost unavoidable. I'm a little leery about that. Has anyone biked the Red Arrow around there, and if so, how is it? I would welcome any route suggestions in general. Thanks!
I've ridden the Red Arrow Highway a fair amount. It's not ideal, but it's far from the worst road. Yes, it has two lanes in each direction. But it also has nice wide shoulders that are in very good condition and almost entirely free of gravel. It is possible to route down more inland roads through Sawyer and New Buffalo, but I tend to just take the Red Arrow going through there.
In short, it's a big (but not terribly busy) road with a shoulder far superior to any bike lane in Chicago.
I haven't biked it personally, but I've seen many cyclists using it over the years. It seems relatively safe for a highway.
You mentioned Greenbush in Sawyer, which is great. I thought I'd point out that there are 2 craft breweries in Bridgman itself (Tapistry and Transient) and, soon, there will be a 3rd (Haymarket). There is also a nice, newish hop farm / brewery within cycling distance of Bridgman (Cultivate).
My fantasy is to quit the rat race and open a Beer Bike Bed & Breakfast in Bridgman ("B5" for short).
I'm aware of all those places. That area has become a treasure trove of beer. Not to mention the two wineries nearby, although I must admit I'm not impressed with the wines of the Midwest. I've been in the Greenbush plenty (mug club member!) and like Tapistry, and I'm looking forward to checking out Transient and Cultivate. Within reason, of course. That Haymarket thing has been in the works for a long time and I'll believe it when I see it. When you open that B5, I hope you have a discount for Chainlink members!
Here's a link to a route I did in June. You should be able to mostly avoid the highway.
Jared's route is pretty close to the one my wife and I use heading from Chicago Heights up to harbor country and beyond. We ride there at least every 2 years, with the most recent trip being Sept. 2015.
Red Arrow isn't particularly bad ... but there is no need to ride it until about Sawyer. North of there it gets pretty sedate. Even then, going to Bridgeman you can avoid Red Arrow completely by heading west out of Sawyer about 2 mi, then going north.
Oooops ... "west out of Sawyer" should have been "east out of Sawyer"
2 mi west out of Sawyer is pretty wet.
Just the kind of thing I'm looking for. Thanks!
I rode to Sawyer with a friend a couple of summers ago. I agree with Larry that you do not need to ride Red Arrow for more than a relatively short distance, as you can take roads that follow the shoreline or are near it. The part of Red Arrow that we did ride was not that bad. Not ideal, but a fair bit better than some of the roads around Gary and the BP refinery that we couldn't avoid without going far out of our way.
Here's my general route to that area, starting from Hyde Park: https://goo.gl/maps/pw7bWU5HGun
Only about 1/4 mile on Red Arrow, and in a place where there is a wide shoulder with rumble strips.
There is about 1/2 mile on US-12 coming into Michigan City that can make me a little nervous - and one small stretch right around the Griffith/Merrillville Airport that has you on a busy road with little to no shoulder. Otherwise it's all bike path, neighborhood streets and pleasant, calm roads. I've ridden Red Arrow (as well as US-12 and Dunes Highway through Indiana) with no issues, but always prefer the country roads - you can ride through the farmland and woods, and even catch a few small rolling hills, without being on a four lane road breathing exhaust. Might take you an extra 30 minutes, but it's always a good trade-off for me.
This route will allow you to stop at four different breweries (Wildrose and New Oberpfalz in Griffith, IN; Shoreline in Michigan City, IN; obviously Greenbush) and one distillery (Journeyman in Three Oaks, MI) for some important refreshment on your way to Tapistry. There's the ride along the lake too - both along the National Lakeshore and between MI City and MI proper, which on a beautiful summer day will make you forget that you're in the midwest.
That's a really well thought-out route. Plus, it passes within about a mile of where I stay in Bridgman!
I usually ride 28s - the Calumet Trail part once you reach the dunes national lakeshore can be a little rough (poorly maintained gravel trail) but you only stay on it for a few miles - you also have the option of riding on the road (US-12 or snaking around on a few smaller roads) right there. 32s should be fine. That trail is somehow much easier to ride when it's flooded with water - though depending on season you have to watch out for mosquitos and other critters.
I've ridden between here and MI a dozen or more times in the last 7 years - there's been a lot of new trail infrastructure connected through Indiana (and the trail that passes over Wolf Lake is nice too) and nicely signposted routes through Michigan - the ride was always pretty nice, but gets better every year (and I see more people doing it, too!).