Dogs, bikes, kayaks and more

And now here’s something for the dogs and paddlers (but not the doggy paddlers) in your home, as well as the peddlers who fancy a ride. Oh, and don’t forget your wild youngsters. There’s plenty to do here, all taken from this week’s Outdoor Adventures. So let’s start.

Wet your paws

Boat security check: Volunteers from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, including still-active 96-year-old Ray Gervais of Mishawaka, will inspect your sternwheeler to ensure it is safe to float. Bring your canoe, kayak, paddle board or rowboat (no motor) and your gear, including life jackets and paddles, 2-4 p.m. May 12 at Shanklin Park, 411 W. Plymouth Ave., Goshen , or 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 14 at Liquid Therapy, 221 S. Main St., Three Rivers. Both sites are canoeing outfitters. If you can’t make it, call Joanne Moore at 574-360-8793 to arrange another time and place this year to inspect any type of boat (motors, sails, etc.). Volunteers go through a standard checklist; if you pass, you get a certificate and a boat sticker. There are no penalties or fees. At events, you can also drop off life jackets that the kids have passed, which can be used in loaner programs.

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer Kevin Perri inspects the perpetrator's kayak and life jacket during a spring 2021 paddle boat safety check at Joe Kernan Park in South Bend.  Similar security checks will also be offered at other local locations this spring.

Dogapalooza: A range of dog- and people-friendly activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 14 at Ox Bow County Park, 23033 County Road 45, Goshen. It will include a police K9 demonstration, two opportunities to try doggy yoga, an off-leash dog play area, local pet organizations, a dog trick and costume contest, and food for people and dogs. It will end with a canine parade. The cost is $5 per vehicle. All dogs must be on a 6 foot leash unless in the off leash area. Dogs may be removed if aggressive.

Nature Festival: The Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center at Goshen College will host this free family event on May 13-14. It starts with canoeing and campfires with S’mores (all gear and treats provided) from 6-8 p.m. May 13. On May 14, activities stretch from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to meet goats, make seed balls and learn about natural dyes, photograph critters and other things, and hike at 8:30 a.m. for birds and at 10:30 a.m. for wildflowers and canoeing at 12:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. It will be at Merry Lea’s Farmstead, 2152 S. County Road 425 West, Albion, Ind., 30 miles southeast of Goshen. Find details at

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Learn to row: Nonprofit South Bend Community Rowing is bringing back this introductory course after a two-year hiatus so you too can sit in a narrow boat with your teammates and race down the St. Joe’s River. The course will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays over three consecutive weeks starting June 7, based at the group’s boathouse at Gov Park. Joe Kernan. You will learn from the coaches of the University of Notre Dame team. The cost is $200. Request registration information at

ride of silence

This free ride, which takes place every year around the world, remembers all those who have been killed or injured while riding a bicycle on public roads. It asks cyclists to ride quietly at no more than 20 km/h, wear a helmet and follow all rules of the road. Here are three in our region on May 18:

Gochen: 10 mile ride from Lincoln Avenue Cycling, 430 W. Lincoln Ave. Arrival at 6:30 p.m.; fast ride at 7 p.m. (

The door : Nearly 8 miles ride from the LaPorte County Fairgrounds, 2581 W. Indiana 2, as of 6:30 p.m. CDT. Hosted by the Maple City Bicycling Club (

Benton Harbour: 12.5 km from North Pier Brewing Company, 670 N. Shore Drive. Arrival at 6:30 p.m.; ride at 7 p.m.

Orchard Country Bike Tour

This bike ride from LaPorte on May 15 features a 16-mile course through town and country, as well as 32- and 63-mile options. Cost is $30 per person, $60 per family. Register and start between 7 a.m. and noon CDT at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds, 2581 W. Indiana 2. Details at

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Fat and Skinny Tire Festival

This annual festival brings together all kinds of bikes.

On May 20, there will be a launch party where cyclists will join in a “community critical mass race” from the village of Winona to downtown Warsaw, starting at 6 p.m. with ceremonies at the Trailhouse, then the ride , then a BMX at 7:15 p.m. downtown Warsaw stunt show and children’s activities. At 8 p.m., the live music begins there, as the shuttles begin to bring runners back to the start.

On May 21, the Countryside Tour & Century ventures on 12, 19, 39, 63 or 101 mile loops, followed by lunch and a pint of beer at the Village at Winona. Start at 8 a.m. Cost is $40 per adult, $10 for ages 15 and under. Prices soon increase by $10. There will be BMX stunt shows at noon and 4 p.m. Children’s events will run from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. with a safety school, art and bike parade. The “Historical Winona Bike Tour” will travel 3-4 miles at 1 and 3 p.m.

On May 22, a race for children aged 4 to 12 at 4:30 p.m. will take them on a grand lap in their age group. On May 22, professional freeride and trials mountain biker Jeff Lenosky will lead group rides where no one will let go at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; he’ll share tips and sign up runners for small-group coaching on May 23.

Mountain bike, BMX and road races will take place throughout the weekend.

Register and find details at

Follow Outdoor Adventures columnist Joseph Dits on Facebook at SBTOutdoorAdventures. Contact him at 574-235-6158 or [email protected]

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