HIGHLAND | When they shift gears, they usually go from casual to cruise.
Nonetheless, for those Le Tour de Shore cyclists whose traditional first-stop destination is Monty's Eatery and Pub, Chicago residents Adam Difilippo and Eric Biederman were the first to dismount and belly up to the bar.
"I say we're probably in the middle of the pack," said Difilippo, 45, of the 300 or so cyclists who will traverse 100 miles in two days, a journey which started Friday morning at Millennium Park in Chicago and will finish sometime today in New Buffalo, Mich.
The annual charity ride benefits Maywood Fine Arts, which provides arts, music, dance, tumbling and "voice" programs for youths.
"I didn't realize we would be the first ones who are stopping off here," Difilippo said. "I didn't think we were going that fast. We must be pretty thirsty."
Le Tour de Shore course utilizes several bike trails in Northwest Indiana and southern Michigan. One of which is the Erie Lackawanna Trail that passes just east of Monty's on 45th Avenue in Highland.
"It started about five years ago," said former electrician Bob Tichy, who bought Monty's 13 years ago. "We caught some of the cyclists' attention when they were riding through, and they decided to stop in for a drink."
Or two ... or three.
"Since then, they usually call ahead of time to let us know the tour is coming through again," said Tichy, who also offered sandwiches for those taking a repose. "So we made sure we opened a little early today."
The first day of the tour usually ends at the Indiana Dunes in Chesterton.
"Some camp out, others stay in a hotel," Difilippo said.
Most of the cyclists will be driven back after reaching Lions Pavilion Park in New Buffalo.
"If you take it easy, completing the course is not that tough," said Biederman. "Really, the toughest part is leaving here."