With lots to get done around the house today, Bugman and I left the house on our tandem at 7:15 a.m. for a short ride (35 miles) , with hills.
First, we headed to Scotts Bluff National Monument. When the park is open, bikes are not allowed on Summit Road, but before opening and after closing (9 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, at the moment), the Bluff is the best, most scenic hill training ride in the area.
Yep – we’re going to ride up THAT. I’m glad the CCC built a road to the top back in the 30s. No way something like that would be permitted today.
The section of road up to the first tunnel is the steepest. By the time we got up there, I felt like my lungs were going to explode.
You can see part of the visitors center parking lot near the middle left of the picture. The thin ribbon of road is what we just rode on.
Here comes another tunnel.
And around a bend cut into the rock. At this point, my stomach was unhappy, and I was glad I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast.
I love the rock formation in the distance at the right side of the image. It looks to me like a woman with a book in her hands looking out over the land.
A view up the North Platte River Valley.
Almost to the top!
I didn’t get photos save this one of a prickly pear, but there is a new flush of flowers blooming. At minimum I saw: prickly poppy, showy milkweed, yucca, spiderwort, plains sunflower, and stemless hymenoxis.
There are paved hiking trails at the top of the monument.
Keep an eye out for rocks on the road – especially after a hard rain. The sign indicates no pedestrians or bicycles, but you can walk and bike the road when it is closed to cars.
Make sure you have good brakes on your bike before attempting the descent, though. You will use them! With the curves and potential for rocks (and rattlesnakes!) on the road, it’s dangerous to go too fast. More than one cyclist has flown ass over teakettle on this road. Bugman rode the brakes, and we kept under the 20 mph speed limit on the way down, except for a short stretch at the end where we got up to 24 mph.
End of Summit Road at the Visitors Center.
After this leg-quaking ride, we continued south on Highway 71 and climbed the Wildcat Hills. Thus, the two-hill day.
Here’s our elevation profile for today’s ride. The hills are about the same height (4,592 and 4,610 feet, per our GPS) , but Scotts Bluff, on the left, has steeper sides.
One final image from today’s ride: a hawk sitting on a bent-down bare branch of a small tree, likely waiting for mice to come running out of some tall grass that was being mowed nearby.
Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw