A source for western Nebraska race info

There’s now a webpage dedicated to collecting information about running races in western Nebraska – on the Monument Marathon site. Great idea!

SCB Citizen

This year, I thought I would train for a spring half marathon, but since I can’t yet manage to run a 5K without stopping for walk breaks and a nasty cold has put me even further behind, I think I will probably scrub that goal. Instead, to provide motivation to stay active, I’d like to set a goal to run every local race I can.

I started off my fitness campaign with the Mardi Gras 5K on February 21.

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What’s that? You never heard about this race?

I’m not surprised. It’s been difficult to find a comprehensive source of race information here in western Nebraska.

When I lived in Iowa, I checked the Fitness Sports race website page often for local running race information – it’s a great resource for races all over the state. Here in western Nebraska, I tried to maintain a similar list on the Western Wind…

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2015 Cycle Greater Yellowstone Day 5: rest day in Cody

Day 5 brought the opportunity to do a century ride, out and back from Cody to the east entrance of Yellowstone, along the North Fork Highway / Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway – a route that had been recommended by local riders back in 2013 when wildfire forced some rerouting on CGY. It sounded cool, but Bugman and I definitely needed some recovery time, so we passed.

I heard it was kind of a tough ride with the headwinds and wildfire smoke. For those who missed the ride, or who wanted to see some of the scenery without smoke, here’s a YouTube video that captured parts of the route in 2010, apparently heading east (you may need to mute your computer – the music in the video is loud).

Not to say that we didn’t ride at all. The CGY organizers had worked to secure a permit for our group to ride the Old Dam Road out to the Buffalo Bill Dam, a 14-mile out-and-back. We dawdled over breakfast, vacillating, but then made a snap decision to go after all, and scrambled to get on the road by 8:30 a.m. – the latest riders are supposed to head out on the route.

It's a very pretty ride down there in Shoshone Canyon.

It was a very pretty ride down there in Shoshone Canyon.

Tunnel!

Tunnel!

Just after passing through the tunnel, I felt like I was going to fall backwards off the tandem. We'd hit the 17% grade ride organizers had mentioned the night before during announcements. They'd asked riders who didn't think they could "make the grade" to dismount and walk up the hill. We knew there was no way we could get up an incline like that, and planned to dismount. However, we were taken by surprise, as we understood there would be a volunteer stationed there to warn us of the grade, but nobody was there, perhaps because we'd gotten started late.

Looking back:  just after passing through the tunnel, I felt like I was going to fall backwards off the tandem. We’d hit the 17% grade ride organizers had mentioned the night before during announcements. They’d asked riders who didn’t think they could “make the grade” to dismount and walk up the hill. We knew there was no way we could get up an incline like that, and planned to dismount. However, we were taken by surprise, as we understood there would be a volunteer stationed to warn us of the climb, but nobody was there, perhaps because we’d gotten started late. We careened to a stop at the intersection with a side road that went down to the water and started hoofing it.

*big sigh* that such signs are even necessary

*big sigh* that such signs are even necessary

The platform and tunnel at the "right abutment outlet works" (bottom left in photo) looks like it would make a great supervillain lair

The platform and tunnel at the “right abutment outlet works” (bottom left in photo) looks like it would make a great supervillain lair. You can easily see on the dam face the 25 feet of new concrete added between 1985-1993 to the dam, which was the tallest in the world, at 325 feet, when it was completed in 1910. Here’s some good background info on the dam project. Much better than the official website for the dam visitor center, which includes the regrettable title of “fun facts” over a list that includes “seven men were killed during construction.”

The normally-closed gate that was opened for us.

The normally-closed gate that was opened for us.

The view down the canyon from atop the dam. You can just make out a couple of cyclists climbing. Well done, cyclists!

The view down the canyon from atop the dam. You can just make out a couple of cyclists climbing on the road, center left. Well done, cyclists!

View of the dam road from inside the visitor center. It's shocking to think of that road as part of the route to Yellowstone. It's so steep and narrow, with sharp dropoffs - it's no wonder they keep it closed ordinarily.

View of the dam road from inside the visitor center, with plenty of cyclists walking, having stashed their bikes somewhere downhill. It’s shocking to think of that road as part of the route to Yellowstone. It’s so steep and narrow, with sharp dropoffs – it’s no wonder they keep it closed ordinarily.

I was pretty fascinated by the flotsam logjam floating on the reservoir against the dam. Very visually interesting.

I was pretty fascinated by the logjam floating on the reservoir against the dam. Very visually interesting. Because of the steepness of the terrain upstream from the reservoir and the velocity of the inflows, the reservoir tends to silt up rather quickly and collect a lot of debris.

flotsam closeupflotsam closeup 2

A picture of a picture from inside the visitor center, of one of the ways the floating debris is periodically cleaned up.

A picture of a picture from inside the visitor center, of one of the ways the floating debris is periodically cleaned up.

We asked a random fellow cyclist to take our picture partway down the dam road. We were in our "civvies" that day. No need for a bike kit for such a short ride.

We asked a random fellow cyclist to take our picture partway down the dam road. We were in our “civvies” that day. No need for a bike kit for such a short ride.

We rode the brakes all the way down that 17% grade. We <3 disc brakes!

We rode the brakes all the way down that 17% grade. We ❤ disc brakes!

On the way back into town, we noticed the flag outside the Wapiti Ranger District Office of the Shoshone National Forest was at half-staff.

On the way back into town, we noticed the flag outside the Wapiti Ranger District Office of the Shoshone National Forest was at half-staff. We learned this was because of the deaths of three wildland firefighters in Washington the day before.

The smoke form western wildfires was hazing the skies for hundreds of miles across the country. Visibility in Cody was poor that day, as seen in this image I took as we climbed the bluff towards our campsite.

The smoke from wildfires in Washington and Idaho was hazing the skies for thousands of miles across the country. Visibility in Cody was poor that day, as seen in this image I took as we climbed the bluff towards our campsite.

Here's a different image of Cody from a similar vantage point, from when we were there with CGY in 2013.

Here’s a different image over Cody from a similar vantage point, but looking more to the north, from when we were there with CGY in 2013. You can actually see the mountains.

After returning from our morning ride, Bugman and I rounded up our laundry and headed to the closest laundromat just a couple of blocks away. The place was, as you could imagine, swamped. In addition to the constant stream of individual cyclists, the laundromat had taken on a new task from a commercial-sized customer that day – the tent sherpa towels! I asked the lady working there if she’d been warned about the locust-like onslaught of cyclists. She said she had, but that she’d been told that the cyclists wouldn’t be in town much, that they’d be out riding. She was very nice, and helped me find empty washing machines to use, and plugged another quarter into a dryer when I managed to trigger an error code on it.

Back in camp, drying laundry on our multi-purpose tandem.

Back in camp, drying laundry on our multi-purpose tandem.

While Bugman retreated to charge his cell phone, browse the web and drink cold beverages in the cafe at the Park County Public Library, I dragged my air mattress out from the tent (it was too hot in there), lay down in the shade of some trees next to the faux burbling brook running into the pond next to the library building, and tried to take a nap. I got distracted watching a bumblebee forage on clover near my head.

bee on clover

Awhile later, I was looking for Bugman and found him sitting on a rock next to the faux stream. That really is a beautiful library campus.

Awhile later, I was looking for Bugman and found him sitting on a rock next to the faux stream. That really is a beautiful library campus.

A beautiful place to camp, too.

A beautiful place to camp, too.

We could have gone with the group to the Cody Rodeo, but we opted out. We’ve already been to Cheyenne Frontier Days, and I learned I don’t really enjoy rodeo. Too many opportunities for people and animals to get injured. Not that I don’t appreciate the practicality of some of the skills involved in rodeo, which are needed to manage range cattle, as I saw when I attended a branding a few years ago.)

Instead, Bugman and I wandered downtown Cody, a place someone said “has more personality than it knows what to do with.”

A shot of the smoky sunset, looking west down Sheridan Drive past the historic Irma.

A shot of the smoky sunset, looking west down Sheridan Drive past the historic Irma.

There were artful bison sculptures all over the downtown. When seen from a certain angle, they made me think of alien pods.

There were artful bison sculptures all over the downtown. When seen from a certain angle, they made me think of alien egg pods.

A candy shop specifically welcoming me? Well, gee, I guess I have to go in!

A candy shop specifically welcoming me? Well, gee, I guess I have to go in!

Our ultimate destination that evening was Pat O’Hara Brewing Company. When we’d been in town two years ago, they weren’t yet serving their own beer.

They were now. Livin' the Dream Pale Ale.

They were now. Livin’ the Dream Pale Ale.

By the time we hiked back up the hill to camp, it was time to hit the sack. Another day of riding ahead!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Bicycles are not an important means of transportation?

Dear Senator Brasch,

I’m a bit late in commenting, as I was out of state when the news came out, but I wanted to take the time to express my concern with what I perceived to be an anti-bicycle tone in your comments during debate on LB 641, which addressed crosswalk protections in the state of Nebraska.

Here is the statement to which I refer, written by Joe Duggan of the World-Herald News Service, as published in the Star-Herald on March 25 (emphasis mine):

Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, also on the [Transportation and Telecommunications] committee, said she supports changing the law for wheelchairs because people with disabilities rely upon them for mobility. But many bicyclists ride for recreation or as an alternative form of transportation.

A couple of implicit assumptions in this statement upset me:

1. The idea that bicycles are not an important means of transportation, that bicycles are “just” for recreation or are “merely” an alternative form of transportation.

Speaking as someone who spent her first couple of years out of college carless due to a lack of funds, I can vouch for the fact that a bicycle may very well serve as a person’s primary means of transportation. Aside from financial restrictions, various medical and legal barriers may prevent a person from driving a vehicle and render bicycle transportation hugely important, particularly in areas where public transportation is lacking.

2. The idea that wheelchair users should be protected because they have no other choice in locomotion, but recreational riders don’t deserve the same consideration.

Why should the reason I’m riding a bicycle make any difference in the way traffic laws are applied to me? Should we similarly divide out crosswalk protections for people on foot? A power-walker in a business suit headed to a work meeting should get protection, but a perambulator out to enjoy some fresh air should not?

Now, it’s very possible that I misunderstood your meaning. Perhaps your words were distorted in the telephone game that is the news media. I hope that is the case.

If not, I would urge you to reexamine your beliefs about the importance of bicycles as a means of transportation. The bicycle is not appropriate for every person, but for some, it is an incredibly important way to get around.

Also, according to public health research, how friendly Nebraska transportation policies are for bicyclists may affect the health of its people.

I would also urge you in your role as a member of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee to become familiar with studies on the link between “active” means of transportation and public health, such as a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health (2010 October; 100(10): 1986–1992), “Walking and Cycling to Health: A Comparative Analysis of City, State, and International Data” by John Pucher, PhD, Ralph Buehler, PhD, David R. Bassett, PhD, and Andrew L. Dannenberg, MD, MPH. To quote from the article’s conclusion:

Our results suggest a significant relationship between walking, cycling, and health, but the results are not sufficient to prove that such a relationship exists or that active transport causes improved health. However, our results should be viewed not in isolation but as part of a mounting body of evidence on the health benefits of active travel. . . . These findings reinforce the need for US cities to encourage more walking and cycling for daily travel. This encouragement requires the provision of safe, convenient, and attractive infrastructure, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bike paths and lanes, and intersection modifications that protect pedestrians and cyclists. . . .  Government transport and land-use policies explain much of the large gap in active transport rates between Europe and North America. Improving those policies will be essential to increasing walking and cycling levels in the United States.

Thank you for your service to your community and our state, and for your consideration of my concerns.

Respectfully,

Katie Bradshaw, of Scottsbluff

CC: LB 641 co-sponsors – Sen. John Stinner, District 48; Sen. Tommy Garrett, District 3

UPDATE – I received an excellent reply from Sen. Brasch. I’ve pasted it into the comments below.

My favorite ride

Ah, the first serious bike ride of spring!

(Och, my legs are tired!)

Bugman and I did my favorite ride today – south from Scottsbluff on Highway 71 to the Wildcat Hills Nature Center and back.

ride to Wildcat HillsIt’s a 30-mile ride with 1,200 feet of climb – a challenge, but not too bad, and it doesn’t take too long. It almost seemed like cheating today, with a north wind of 15 mph (gusting to 25) helping to push us up the hill.

I love this ride because the road is nice and wide (four lanes, divided, two in each direction) with decent shoulders and little traffic.

I also love this ride because it’s a great training ride.

Come to think of it, this would be a great place for flatlanders to come train for mountainous bike rides further west (like Cycle Greater Yellowstone). We’re at 4,000 feet elevation here, and between the Wildcat Hills and Scotts Bluff National Monument, there’s plenty of vertical challenge.

Western Nebraska: more than just flyover country.

Western Nebraska: more than just flyover country.

Also, I love the scenery on this ride.

You get nice views of Scotts Bluff National Monument and Mitchell Pass on the other side of town.

You get nice views of Scotts Bluff National Monument and Mitchell Pass on the other side of town.

And the Wildcat Hills themselves are gorgeous. This meadow is where Bugman has previously seen the resident herd of bighorn sheep.

And the Wildcat Hills themselves are gorgeous. This pasture is where Bugman has previously seen the resident herd of bighorn sheep.

I didn’t get a picture of it, but I saw something else lovely today, as we were speeding downhill towards home. (I don’t tend to take pictures when we are speeding downhill. I tend to keep a death grip on the handlebars.)

My eye caught some movement up on one of the bluffs.

Bighorn sheep?

No, shadows. Bird shadows. Three of them.

I looked up, expecting to see turkey vultures, but instead there were three white-bellied hawks hovering and whirling on the eddy of air forced over the blufftop by the wind.

It made my soul happy.

Yes, today was a good ride.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Juneathon – what happened?

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

I can get into a weird kind of inertia funk of self-loathing when I don’t do the “right” thing, and it’s almost like I continue to punish myself by not doing what I should be doing.

On Monday, I sat on the couch and researched deck materials instead of exercising. (We had a deadline to make purchases to repair damage done in a hail storm two years ago or risk losing the final insurance payout.) I did not work it into my schedule, so no exercising or blogging.

On Tuesday, I had a rough day at work, followed by trips to home improvement stores to research deck materials. No exercising or blogging, though it probably would have made me feel better.

On Wednesday, I was sufficiently into the self-loathing spiral that I just sat on the couch and watched TED talks and drank beer. (Nothing for the self-esteem like watching inspirational, amazing people while you are sitting on the couch feeling unable to force yourself to get up and do some exercise, which would probably make you feel better, but some sulky thing in the back of your head says “you don’t deserve it.” I could have at least pedaled away on the stationary bike while surfing!) The only thing that rescued the day for me was the fact that I took a break from work and got the home repair materials purchased and the receipts turned in to the insurance agency – one day before the deadline.

On the at-home to-do list: rip out hail-damaged decking and replace with (hopefully) more weather-resistant composite material. Thank goodness the in-laws are coming next week to help!

On the at-home to-do list: rip out hail-damaged decking and replace with (hopefully) more weather-resistant composite material. Thank goodness the in-laws are coming next week to help!

Lack of proper sleep and the “worry cycle” of being unable to shut out thoughts about my endless to-do list at work and home probably triggered this whole episode of Juneathon fail.

But just because I lost a few days does not mean I need to give up! I do not have to be perfect to continue to strive for something! Dammit!

I am going to get off this couch as soon as I hit “publish” and do some leg exercises!

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Learn to be good with discomfort

After two days driving to work, this morning’s bike commute seemed . . . annoying somehow.

Why should I expend all this energy pushing pedals when I could just hop in the car and be there in half the time?

It’s deviously attractive to take the easy way out.

But the easy way does not lead to amazing things.

I once read a study that showed that runners are viewed more positively at work as compared to their non-running colleagues.

I wonder if that positive association is actually correlated with grit – the ability to tough it out and get things done, to accomplish a goal in spite of adversity.

A friend on social media shared an article this morning that I started thinking about while some other part of my brain was whining about how difficult it was to *groan* bike uphill *moan* against the wind.

It was a Lifehacker article – “How to Decide What to Do with Your Life.” A great read for recent grads (or others facing the blank canvas of a new beginning).

There was a section that gave a lot of ammunition to the rational part of my brain that was fighting the whiny part.

Learn to Be Good with Discomfort

One of the most important skills you can develop is being okay with some discomfort. The best things in life are often hard, and if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out. You’ll live a life of safety.

Learning is hard. Building something great is hard. Writing a book is hard. A marriage is hard. Running an ultra-marathon is hard. All are amazing.

If you get good at being accustomed to a little discomfort, you can do anything. You can start a business, which you couldn’t if you’re afraid of discomfort, because starting a business is hard and uncomfortable.

How do you get good at this? Do things now that are uncomfortable and hard, on purpose. But start with small doses. Try exercising for a little bit, even if it’s hard, but just start with a few minutes of it, and increase a minute every few days or so. Try writing a blog or meditating every day. When you find yourself avoiding discomfort, push yourself just a little bit more (within limits of reason and safety of course).

Great advice for life, and a good pep talk for starting or getting back into running. Also appropriate for Juneathon. Writing something every day is hard, too.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw