On one of our last rides, we’d initially planned to bike about a 50-mile loop from our house to Lyman, up to Henry, and back, but rainy, windy weather cut our ride a bit short at Morrill. Last Sunday, we made the entire 54-mile loop.
First, I have to show off our make-do bicycle gear bags:
Fanny packs with straps wound around the bicycle frame make OK gear bags.
And I finally found a way to comfortably manage my camera during the warmer months. When it was cold, I would sling the camera over my neck on a lanyard and tuck the camera inside my jacket. Once the weather warmed and the jacket came off, the camera swung around annoyingly. Why did it take me so long to discover I could just lengthen the lanyard and tuck the camera into the back pocket of my jersey?
When I want to take a picture while riding, I just reach back and yank the camera out of my pocket. The lanyard ensures I won’t drop it. I can do this because, as tandem stoker, I don’t have to steer.
And a note about cycling clothes: there is method to the Spandex madness.
As a bicycle commuter, I have for years cycled in my ordinary clothing. (“Ordinary” meaning I never wear skirts or slip-on shoes.) I viewed cycling clothing as somewhat frivolous. It may seem frivolous if you’re only riding about 9 miles a day. But if you are riding for 20, 30, 40, 50 miles, something becomes very clear: chafing is your enemy. The best way to avoid chafing is to wear form-fitting, stretchy, wicking clothing, even if that is not the most flattering thing to wear.
OK, back to the ride …
We had planned to stop in the city park in Lyman to have our nearly-halfway-point picnic lunch of hard-boiled eggs and gummy bunnies. I texted my friend Kathi, who lives nearby, to see if she and her husband Dan could join us. They were up to their elbows in projects, as many ranchers are this time of year, so they invited us to stop by their place instead.
Us at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch near Lyman. For once, I didn’t have to prop the camera up on something. Kathi took this picture for us.
Darn if I didn’t forget to take a photo of our friends! I will make amends by referring you to Kathi’s blog, Country Chicken Girl, and the Open A Bar 2 Ranch Facebook page.
Kathi and Dan’s cattle are black. I did not get a picture of them. Instead, I took a picture of some white cattle on Holloway Road, which runs north-south about a quarter-mile east of the Wyoming-Nebraska state line.
Black Angus cattle are much more common around here, so these white cattle with the white clouds above really caught my eye. They are charolais, maybe? Random fact: I first learned that black Angus was a cattle breed from the early-80s Atari Stampede video game.
Some other views from Holloway Road:
In shortgrass prairie country, a clump of tall trees can really attract the eye.
There was more than one abandoned house along this stretch of road.
Closer to the town of Henry, we stumbled on a nice surprise. While I had heard of the Kiowa Wildlife Management Area we had biked past on the previous ride, I had never heard of the Stateline Island unit of the North Platte National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a lovely little stop alongside the road, with hiking trails and some benches.
FYI: if you go for a hike, make sure to check for ticks when you’re done.
This is what I found crawling on the sign in the photo above: dog tick. Brrr! (You have nothing more to fear from this particular tick. It is deceased.)
I took a short hike to a bench I could see on the riverbank. There was no water to be seen.
River of sand?
Once we cycled across the bridge, the pitiful river trickle was visible on the north side of the sand dune:
Is the rest of the water diverted for irrigation, I wonder? Or has it really been this dry upstream?
At Henry, we turned east onto Highway 26. I took a picture of a random picnic shelter I have always wanted to stop at.
I’m sure there are “historic interest” panels or some such thing there. Alas, it was across two lanes of traffic and two rumble strips – not worth the effort at the time.
It was interesting cycling on that patch of road. We were separated from traffic by a rumble strip. Most of the traffic passing us moved over into the oncoming lane to give us more space, which meant they rumbled on the rumble strip marking the center line. I really, really appreciated the courtesy of those drivers. Not one irritated honk! (Can’t say the same for cycling through town to get from our house to the highway.)
At Morrill, we had the chance to stop in the lovely city park for a snack and a rest.
In addition to a very nice shelter, the park has running-water public toilets in warm weather! (Very important for us road warriors to note these things.)
The park is right across the street from some agriculture infrastructure adjacent to the rail line.
At one point, we saw two deer sproinging along in a meadow, a dog in semi-wholehearted pursuit.
One deer remained in the treeline, head and ears swiveling to catch the threat that chased away its compadres.
Somewhere between Morrill and Mitchell, between miles 37 and 42, fatigue started to set in. With temps approaching 80 degrees, it was getting pretty hot in the full sun. I could feel the sweat escaping past my layer of sunscreen, and I could feel that my skin was dusted with the salts from evaporated perspiration.
We stopped at a liquor store in Mitchell to grab a soda (always carry a little cash when out on the road – you might need it!)
That 7UP was the best 7UP I have ever tasted in my life. Ahhhhh!
On our next trip, we’re going to have to figure a way to carry more water.
When I wrote about our last bike journey east on Highway 26 from Mitchell, I complained about the unpleasantly rough road. Blog commenter Maggie kindly suggested an alternate route, so Bugman and I took Spring Creek Road back towards Scottsbluff instead of the highway. The road was quite a bit smoother, and I think we avoided some hill climbing. Some lovely homes back there, but also several junkyards.
With our distance of 54 miles and a total climb of about 1,231 feet, our ride was pretty similar to day 3 of our planned August ride, which is 56 miles and 1,475 feet of climb. I think we can tackle day 3, even though our last 4 or 5 miles into Scottsbluff were rough.
The question is, will we be able to handle the miles and climb on the days before and after??
Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw