The wheels kept turning Saturday morning at Liberty Bible Church as bikers from all over kicked off Lorie’s Lakeside Century ride, which for some, as the name suggests, could be up to 100 miles long.
Porter County Visiting Nurses Association Vice President of Development and Charity Relations Maria Galka said that while the full journey may be a long one, the event is truly for bikers of all ages and experience levels. The course accommodates many routes, from a shorter 26 miles to a 100-mile trek that goes to New Buffalo, Michigan and back.
“It’s not just for the hardcore avid cyclists,” Galka said. “A family could take the ride to the lakeshore and back and just make a day of it and enjoy it. It’s nice because it fits both.”
This planning has been proven to work: Lorie’s Lakeside Century was recently named one of the top 10 century rides in America.
Although it serves as a fundraiser for the VNA programs like hospice, Meals on Wheels and the Phoenix Center youth grief counseling, the Lakeside Century was named to honor of Lorie Kirkley, a nurse and avid bike rider who died from violent crime in 1999.
Galka said the event began with the Calumet Crank Club and has moved through nonprofit organizations over the years. Before the VNA took over in the mid-2000s, the Porter Foundation hosted the ride.
Over 75 volunteers helped make Lorie’s Lakeside Century run smoothly for both the VNA and the riders. Some drove the route or held a Hamm radio to keep an eye out for bikers in need. Stop-and-go, or SAG stops held food and entertainment for the riders as they worked to complete the miles.
The first SAG ran by Beverly Shores.
“It’s a wonderful stop for people because it’s right there along the lake, they have a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, so it’s a great ride for the riders,” Galka said.
Over 250 bikers preregistered for this years’ event, and Galka said they were hoping for upwards of 550 riders in total, despite the morning rain.
Boy Scout Troop 929 out of Chesterton heard about Lorie’s Lakeside through local advertising and decided to offer the opportunity to the boys involved.
“For some of us, it’s a merit badge requirement, for others, we’re just out for a lovely day,” troop leader George Culver said. “We really hope to do it [again] next year, because it looks like it’s going to be splendid, even with a little bit of wet.”
Those hoping for a badge needed at least 50 miles, while some were only planning on traveling around 30.
Next year, Culver hopes they can try for the full century-length route. For VNA Interim president and CEO, seeing the people who come for all different reasons is the best part of the event.
“Fathers and sons or mothers and daughters, the whole group coming as a team, or friends that come together, and the fact that they want to do it for a cause,” Alexa said. “They enjoy their riding, but they find more meaning knowing then can do it when other people are going to benefit who need that help, so it’s a win-win. They’re doing it for two good reasons.”