Celebrate Hammond’s and Whiting’s new bike trails at WHAM!, the 2013 Whiting Hammond After Midnight Ride that pedals off on at the stroke of midnight Saturday, Aug. 3 from Wolf Lake Memorial Park’s Pavilion.
It’s not a race, but a fun ride for biking enthusiasts, and this year, bicyclists from surrounding towns including Munster and Highland will join in the fun.
Online registration is now available at www.active.com under “WHAM” or by calling (219) 659-7678. Registration is $15 and checks should be made payable to the Hammond Marina. Checks can be mailed to the Hammond Marina, 701 Casino Center Dr.
Advanced registration is recommended for this event and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1.
There is a day-of-registration from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2. All riders must check in at the Wolf Lake Pavilion prior to 11:30 p.m. Friday and every rider must wear a helmet to participate.
The Pavilion will light up at 9:30 p.m. with live entertainment, and each WHAM! participant will receive a commemorative T-shirt. There will also be giveaways and breakfast for bikers when they return following the ride.
The 25 mile scenic route begins and ends at the Pavilion along Wolf Lake and takes participants along both off-road bike paths and city streets, along the spectacular shores of Lake Michigan, Wolf Lake and George Lake.
Bikers will also travel through historic neighborhoods and downtown Whiting. Along the way, they will pass Oil City Stadium and cross a one-of-the-kind bike bridge that links Hammond and Whiting.
After leaving the Pavilion at midnight, bike riders first travel a short distance south from the Pavilion on Sheffield Avenue before turning north along Wolf Lake. The route continues through Robertsdale and Whiting.
Cyclists then head south through Hammond to a rest stop at the halfway mark sponsored and hosted by Cabela’s Outfitters in store’s parking lot.
When they return to the route, bicyclists head north again through Hammond and finish at the Wolf Lake Pavilion.
The route takes between two and four hours on average to complete.
The growth of WHAM! comes from a number of factors.
For example, bicycling has become a popular form of recreation with many health benefits. According to the website AdultBicycling.com, a myriad of benefits result when adults take up cycling. These benefits include building strength and muscle tone of the entire body, building stamina, improving cardio-vascular fitness, improving heart health and boosting coordination.
In addition, bicycling burns calories and is one of the easiest ways to exercise, the website states.
WHAM! also showcases the part Hammond’s plays in the ever-increasing network of communities offering bike trails.
Over the last decade, bike trails have been built that take bikers, joggers and walkers from north of Chicago through Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in Indiana. The connection between the bike trails is a vision for the area’s future.
Most of the work on the bike paths is funded from a variety of federal sources, including the Transportation Alternatives, Surface Transportation, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, and Recreational Trail programs, with local matches, according to Mitch Barloga, planner of nonmotorized transportation and greenways for the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
Trails are something "people just want more and more of," Barloga says, adding that the Northwest Indiana area now boasts 130 miles of trail on the ground in three counties.
"They just sell themselves,” Barloga says.