At 5:07 a.m., I took my favorite picture of the whole ride. It encapsulates for me the anticipation of a new day on the road.
A few minutes later, I was grabbing a breakfast burrito from the pavilion in the North Bend City Park. Thank goodness for good people who are willing to get up pre-dawn to feed a bunch of cyclists!
Around mile 10, north of Webster, I hear two young voices calling, “Bake sale! Bake sale!”
“Bake sale?” I check for traffic and pull a u-turn. Who can resist a random roadside bake sale staffed by a lovely young family?
Some riders got their baby fix cooing over the youngest bake sale family member.
The boy in the red shirt in the earlier photo had a job. He was the sign spinner. He had a tip jar.
In Snyder, I took a minor detour off course to see what there was to see.
Interesting building. Kind of looks wild-west-saloon-y.
Man Cave, complete with car-seat furniture.
Snyder Post Office, with Pony Express mural.
Even the gas station / mini mart had a mural. (And a bathroom. Thank goodness. Though the door didn’t latch. There was a sign on the door warning people to knock first.)
Once I left Snyder, the quality of the day went downhill. (Figuratively, not literally.)
The shoulder surface on Highway 91 was awful. There were those ca-CHUNK ca-CHUNK perpendicular cracks of the sort that drive a cyclist mad and/or break spokes and/or bruise the derrière. Attempting to ride on the smoother travel lane was tricky business because of high traffic volume, a couple of hills, and wicked bad parallel cracks between the shoulder and road surface that I swear could have swallowed half a wheel in some places.
A little while after we turned north onto US 275, the road surface improved, but it was still not a very fun place to ride. There was lots of high-speed truck traffic, and with the wind coming south-southwest, we sometimes caught nasty airwash. There wasn’t much sightseeing, either, because of the need to scan for the debris on the shoulder – items that one might expect from a route with heavy truck travel: tire scraps, bolts, bits of tiedown equipment, soda bottles filled with urine.
Then there was the roadkill. I saw so many different types of birds dead on the side of the road, if I were so inclined, I could’ve gotten a good start on building images for a Macabre Roadside Nature Guide. This, my friends *was* a yellow warbler:
The multitude of senseless deaths made me sad. The experience of being on that highway was so disagreeable, it made me start thinking about how the purpose of a highway is not to be pretty or even slightly pleasant. A highway is purely functional, meant to move people and stuff from point A to point B. (And there are traffic engineers who purposely propose bike paths right next to them! See Exhibit A and Exhibit B.)
To add misery to my day, the roadside had been recently mowed, and with the wind and all the trucks, the grass particles were blowing everywhere, kicking my allergies into overdrive. By the time I got to West Point, I was a sneezy, dripping, red-eyed mess.
In town, the allergen level decreased somewhat. I stopped at a community fundraiser booth to grab some food. (Fruit! Oh, man! That fruit on a stick was da bomb!)
The chiropractic clinic where the booth was stationed let us drink their water AND use their bathroom. ❤
I inquired about a nearby pharmacy where I could pick up some more allergy medication. There was a Shopko less than a half-mile up the road along the route, in a commercial development set back behind a truck stop. As I pedaled through the parking lot, I noticed the pharmacy had a drive-up window. Hmm . . . attempt to park my bike outside and walk through the store in my bike gear, or try the drive-up window?
I reckon that might’ve been the first time anyone’s ridden a bike up to the Shopko pharmacy drive-thru in West Point, Nebraska.
The miserable highway slog continued another 8 miles to Beemer, where there was a SAG stop.
I took a detour to see a little bit of the town, and found this interesting-looking building. It was built in 1900 to be a Congregational Church, but is now apparently a private residence. (How cool would it be to have your very own belfry?)
Another 6 highway miles, and Wisner provided respite from the open road. A local fundraiser group had smartly placed a large grill and some picnic tables in a patch of shade upwind from the route. The aroma did all the advertising.
Not sure where they got the watermelon, but this group of cyclists was getting creative with the implements at hand.
In the background, a truck was unloading grain to the elevator.
Did you know: Wisner has a Blarney Stone. Read more about it here.
After Wisner, the highway curved, and now we were bucking a headwind with enough of a crosswind that, when amplified by the airwash from an oncoming truck, occasionally could have ripped my helmet off if it hadn’t been strapped on.
There was a couple of miles of out-and-back to Pilger in the ride guide, which was promoted as a way to support the people of that town who lost so much in the 2014 tornado outbreak, but there wasn’t any directional signage that I could see on the road, and with the awfulness of the highway and the wind, I wanted to get off that route as soon as possible. Turning north on Highway 15 was a relief!
Just 15 miles to go – and hills. My legs just weren’t as spry as they were in the Bohemian Alps. I stopped to rest for a moment and took a picture of this piece of ground, which made me think of a striped fabric pattern.
The final mile or so of the ride was lovely – on a bike path on the southeast side of Wayne, which connected us to our campsite on the rugby grounds. I had no idea rugby was so big in Wayne. They host a massive rugby tournament every March.
I thought this barn structure serving as bike parking on the rugby grounds was very picturesque.
There was plenty of room to spread out the tents on the rugby grounds. More than plenty. Suburban-sprawl-level plenty. Like it or not, I was going to do a lot of walking at this campsite. After I hiked to the shower truck in back, I just lay in my tent for awhile. The week was really starting to wear on me.
I was getting hungry, though, so I needed to go find food. I couldn’t figure out the shuttle system, so I just started walking. Found some rhubarb pie and HOMEMADE ice cream at a Rotary booth. Eventually, I found my way to the farmer’s market and bought a couple of tamales: spinach and poblano. Tasty!
I was too tired to get up off the picnic table where I was sitting to chase down the shuttle when it went by, so I wound up taking a meandering walk through the downtown area.
Downtown Wayne sure put out the welcome mat for BRAN!
My hopes were lifted for a moment when I saw the words “brewing company” in this sign. Air conditioning and a place to sit and sip an interesting beer?? But no, the brewery was not open yet – only a gift shop. (Whoever does the merch layout in that gift shop is a mad genius. Very fun place to look around!)
Interesting clay tile mosaic. (Also interesting that the town refers to itself as Wayne, America, rather than Wayne, Nebraska. Hrm.) (Also, heh – I’m featured in the photo at the top of the page – they caught me coming into the greeting station at the bike path. Funny how lots of other cyclists were mentioning the awfulness of Highway 275, too.)
Random masked chicken? (Wayne puts on a yearly Chicken Show, don’t ya know?)
The Majestic Theater was showing . . . Blazing Saddles? Hahahahaha! After 70 miles on a bike saddle, I found much humor in this movie selection. (Did they choose it on purpose??) I totally would’ve gone to see the show, but it started at 7 p.m., and the end of the movie would’ve gotten pretty late for me, in bike-tour time.
Instead, I sat on the bench in the shade of the canopy and watched for the next shuttle. I had ample time to contemplate the traffic on Main Street – Highway 15 – and I decided that having your main street be a major thoroughfare was kind of a detriment to pedestrian comfort. (Such an interesting color pattern to that brick on the building across the street!)
I finally caught a (very bouncy) shuttle trailer back to camp.
I was glad I had the chance to see the rugby exhibition game Wayne staged for us. I’d never seen rugby played before. I got a primer from the ref: kick or run forward, pass backwards, and touch the ball down in the end zone for points (called a “try”) before attempting to kick for more points. I got a few more tips from a young woman in the stands who plays rugby. (When she’s not injured. She was on crutches from her third ACL tear. I love her spirit. When I asked about how a rubgy ball differed from a football, she went up to the announcer booth to grab one to show me. Lacking hands to carry the ball because of her crutches, she tucked the ball into the bottom of her shirt to transport it without having to ask for help, creating a “rugby baby.” 😀 )
For more info on how rugby is played, see here.
Cyclists were beginning to drift off to their tents before the match ended. I drifted to my tent, but not to sleep. At least not right away. Sleeping is not one of my superpowers.
day 4 stats
1,943 feet of climb
12.3 mph avg
(weather data from Wayne)
low temp 62
high temp 83
avg humidity 50%
wind 7-15 g 20 SSW
Copyright 2017 by Katie Bradshaw