2017 Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska: Day 4, North Bend to Wayne

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.

morning in camp

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!

breakfast line.jpg

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?

bake sale

Some riders got their baby fix cooing over the youngest bake sale family member.

baby

The boy in the red shirt in the earlier photo had a job. He was the sign spinner. He had a tip jar.

tipes

Adorable, yes?

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.

snyder building

Man Cave, complete with car-seat furniture.

snyder man cave

Snyder Post Office, with Pony Express mural.

snyder post office

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.)

snyder gas station

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:

macabre roadside nature guide

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!)

west point snack

The chiropractic clinic where the booth was stationed let us drink their water AND use their bathroom. ❤

chiropractic office

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.

trail's inn SAG

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?)

beemer former church

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.

wisner watermelon feed

In the background, a truck was unloading grain to the elevator.

wisner grain elevator

Did you know: Wisner has a Blarney Stone. Read more about it here.

wisner blarney stone.jpg

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.

field 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.

bikes parked rugby grounds

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!

tamales

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!)

not open yet

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.)

clay mosaic

Interesting mural.

wayne mural

Random masked chicken? (Wayne puts on a yearly Chicken Show, don’t ya know?)

holy random chicken batman

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.

majestic blazing saddles

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!)

wayne main drag

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.

rugby 1rugby 2

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
70.2 miles
1,943 feet of climb
12.3 mph avg
(weather data from Wayne)
low temp 62
high temp 83
avg humidity 50%
precip 0
wind 7-15 g 20 SSW

Copyright 2017 by Katie Bradshaw

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Roadside cleanup saves a life

When I headed west of Scottsbluff this morning to join other members of the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club for a roadside cleanup, I figured we might come across some roadkill.

I sure didn’t expect the small survivor we found in the tall grass along with discarded beer cans and fast food bags.

I was scanning the ground and trailing a bag of trash along the south side of the road near Riverside Golf Course when I stopped short, startled by coming upon a freshly killed doe directly in front of me that had been partly obscured by tall greenery. I didn’t look too closely, as her innards had spilled out, and it wasn’t a real pretty sight.

A moment later, my attention was diverted as other WNBC members called out: “Here’s her fawn. And it’s still alive!”

Ohmygosh!

I headed in their direction, about 30 feet away from the dead doe, fearing I’d find a grievously injured animal in need of euthanasia.

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Members of the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club engaged in a roadside cleanup contemplate what to do about an orphaned fawn they found hidden in the grass, several yards away from its dead mother. (You can just see the fawn in this picture – the patch of brown center front.)

But the tiny fawn seemed fine, apart from a minor scuff on its ear. It lay in the grass, breathing steadily, obeying instinct to wait quietly for its mother to come.

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We bike club members obeyed our own instinct to help the helpless creature, resisting the urge to touch it and instead marking the location and calling for professional help.

One person called the emergency dispatch center to request a relay message to someone from Nebraska Game & Parks.

It being a Saturday on Memorial Day weekend, I wondered if anyone from Game & Parks would be available to respond in time, so I texted my friend Sarah Pinet of Victory Hill Farm, who once worked at Riverside Discovery Center, to ask if she knew a wildlife rehabilitator. She did: Shelley Lonsdale. (Nebraska Game & Parks contacted her as well. She’s the only licensed wildlife rehabilitator in our area.)

I called Shelley and left a message explaining what we’d found. She called right back and said she could be onsite in about 40 minutes.

She was concerned with making sure the fawn was out of harm’s way, and also that the fawn didn’t wind up in the hands of a well-intentioned but unskilled caretaker before she got there. She explained that the task of rehabilitating an orphaned fawn was much more difficult if the young animal had been weakened by improper care from a Good Samaritan.

She also asked us to “look for the twin. Mom probably stashed the other one nearby.”

I assured her that the fawn was safe and remained well-hidden, and that I thought that we bicyclists would probably still be cleaning up the roadside until she arrived and could keep an eye out. I told her that we’d scoured the area pretty thoroughly looking for trash and hadn’t found another fawn.

About an hour after I called, Shelley and a helper arrived, along with someone from Game & Parks.

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Shelley gently lifts the fawn from its hiding place in the grass as a member of the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission looks on.

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Shelley briefly examined the fawn – a male – and found that its left hind leg was broken. “But it can be splinted,” she said, noting that the break was between the knee and hip and that both joints seemed fine. The little guy had a few superficial scrapes as well.

The Game & Parks person offered to start combing the area in search of another possible orphaned fawn.

But Shelley had noticed something.

“Where’s the mom?” she asked.

I pointed back up the road to where the doe lay.

If you’re squeamish, you’ll want to skip the next picture, and probably the following text, too. Scroll down to the next line of asterisks.

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What Shelley had noticed was that the fawn was still damp from amniotic fluid. When she saw the dead doe, her suspicions were confirmed.

Mom hadn’t cleaned the fawn off – because he hadn’t actually been born. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. The impact of the vehicle that hit the doe tore open her abdomen, delivering the apparently near-term fawn by accidental cesarean section.

No need to look for a missing twin – it was still encased in its amniotic sac, dead, like its mother.

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Licensed wildlife rehabilitator Shelley Lonsdale holds an orphaned fawn near the body of its mother. If you look closely at the large organ showing at the doe’s belly, you can make out the nose, eye, ear and spotted back of the orphaned fawn’s twin, which died along with its mother.

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So the doe and one fawn were dead, but, despite the broken leg, the miraculously living male fawn seemed hale and hearty.

He bleated and squirmed and swiveled his ears to catch what was going on around him (short video clip here).

Shelley joked about giving the fraught fawn a name like “Freeway.” I suggested that he should have a bicycle-related name, since he’d been found by the bike club. I started naming a few bicycle types and brands.

“I like Trek” Shelley said, smiling and looking down at the fawn. “This is Trek.”

Safely settled in Shelley’s lap in the car, Trek began sucking on Shelley’s fingers. He was hungry! A good sign.

IMG_9087

I’m sure pulling for the little guy.

And I’m so glad our Adpot-A-Spot cleanup session for Keep Scottsbluff-Gering Beautiful was rescheduled to today from our previously rained-out date of April 30. If we hadn’t happened upon the fawn this morning, he surely would have died.

I’ll post updates as I get them from Shelley.

First update, via email and Facebook:

The break needed a splint, so Goshen [Veterinary Clinic] in Torrington, [Wyoming], helped me out. Trek has his splint and has eaten. it will be a long road to recovery, but I am hopeful he will be ok.

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Photo by Shelley Lonsdale

If anyone wants to contribute to the cost of Trek’s care, you can send donations to:

Goshen Veterinary Clinic
4548 US-85
Torrington, WY 82240

Update, via Facebook 5/30/16

He is having a much better day today. He even got to play outside for a while, but he gets tired quickly from having to drag his heavy splint. I am hoping we can get a lighter one for him soon. He goes back in next week for a check up on his leg.

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Photo by Shelley Lonsdale

Trek appears to be doing well!

Here’s a story from the Star-Herald newspaper about Trek and Shelley.

A happy/sad update 6/2/16, from Facebook (happy Trek has a buddy, sad that another fawn was orphaned and injured):

Trek got a new friend today. I hope she will recover from her injury as well as he is. Mom was hit, but I am not sure about her injuries. She has a spinal injury.

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Photo by Shelley Lonsdale

Update June 5

It seems that Trek is having some difficulties. Really hope he pulls through!

Trek had a rough day and night again yesterday but is doing much better this morning … he had me very worried last night, so it was another night of sleeping on the floor next to him and giving him electrolytes every hour, and this morning about 4 he ate some applesauce and is now acting normal again.

shelleyjune5

Photo by Shelley Lonsdale

Update June 12

I wanted to tell you we had some more complications with trek the last couple days and unfortunately we lost him this morning …. I am very sorry and I did everything I could for him

RIP, little dude. We tried.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except photos courtesy of Shelley Lonsdale as credited