A ride north on highway 71

A sunny spring morning with predicted temperatures in the 60s. Time to go for a ride!

But where?

We had just gone to Mitchell. The hill up into the Wildcat Hills seemed a bit much to tackle just yet. A friend suggested heading north out of town on Highway 71.

I haven’t been outside of a car on Highway 71 since I ran in the torch run. Sure! Why not?

On the way out of town on 42nd Street, we passed Steve Frederick, who was out walking with his wife and dog. He’s been out walking a lot lately. (I have to give him props for the changes he’s made in his lifestyle. Good on ya, Steve!)

Not too long after we took to Highway 71 northbound, I began to regret our choice of route.

Outside of Scottsbluff, the road shoulder narrowed, and there was a not-insignificant amount of Sunday morning traffic.

It REALLY made me nervous when a pickup truck behind us decided to floor it and speed around us, leaving us choking in a cloud of diesel fumes, rather than slow down and wait for the oncoming minivan to pass.

There were quite a few semi trucks on the road, too, but at least all of them pulled fully over into the other lane to pass us, even if it meant they had to slow down for oncoming traffic. (THANK YOU, truck drivers!!)

We were stared at as we passed a feedlot. The young cattle got up and approached the fence, but the older cattle just looked at us. “Ho hum – we’ve seen cyclists before.”

feedlot

Near the peak of our route, at 4,300+ feet, a radio tower.

highway 71 radio tower

At the Sioux County line, what little road shoulder we had disappeared completely.

entering sioux county

The descent into Sioux County.

sioux countyWe didn’t really want to be on a shoulderless road with semi trucks and curves and hills, so at 12.5 miles, at the entrance to the High Plains Feed Yard, we turned around to head back home.

turnaround at high plains feed yard

Got some good speed southbound, up to 30 miles per hour downhill into Scotts Bluff County.

It was a decent ride, but the traffic made me nervous. I can’t say I’d recommend that route, unless there are no other alternatives to your destination.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

2 thoughts on “A ride north on highway 71

  1. We enjoyed highway 71 on century rides these past two years. Strength and safety in numbers “expands” the width of highway 71 north. It’s a great century ride to

    • I guess just one tandem was not enough for “strength and safety in numbers.” I was just made nervous by the sheer amount of trucks that day. Highway 29 is much more comfortable for me in terms of traffic load – unless that saltwater injection well north of Mitchell gets approved. 80 trucks a day! Ick!

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