Bike census

I get really frustrated when I hear people say “Oh, hardly any people ride bikes, so there’s no need for bike infrastructure.” Classic chicken-and-egg case: if it were easier and more comfortable to ride, it’s likely people would – which would have major implications in several community indices, notably public health.

But how to track where and when people ride bikes, and why? Q&A surveys, perhaps. There’s also the standard “stand on a street corner” traffic survey (it SO aggrieves me when these studies are done in the dead of winter & taken as a good indicator of demand for bike & ped facilities!)

In the absence of those types of censuses, there’s the totally unscientific “bikes I see when I happen to be out and about” variety. There’s got to be at least some value to that, right? Observing actual cyclist behavior at various locations at various times of day?

I’ve decided to record my observations here. Totally unscientific, and utterly depenent upon when and where I happen to be out, but why not?

Sunday, April 23, 2017, 13:00-14:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man (carrying bags from shopping) eastbound on 33rd St, on sidewalk on south side. Turned south on Ave B to first business driveway, crossed to funeral home driveway and continued southbound through business parking lots.

Bike 2: man westbound on West Overland on sidewalk on north side. Crossed to west side of Ave B & waited for light. Proceeded southbound on Ave B sidewalk.

Bike 3: woman westbound on West Overland at Avenue B, in street.

Monday, April 23, 2017, 15:00-16:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man northbound on Broadway on sidewalk on east side, turned eastbound onto street at East Overland.

Bike 2: man westbound on 14th Street west of 1st Avenue, walking bike with trailer in the street.

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10:00-12:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man northbound on Broadway at 17th in the street, rider wearing a backpack and smoking a cigarette

Bike 2: child southbound on east-side sidewalk of Broadway at 17th , accompanied by other young pedestrians and a stroller, then northbound again a few minutes later

Bikes 3-6: family group of parents and two children riding northbound on the east-side sidewalk of Broadway at 17th , mom smoking, dad with bag from a store

Bike 7: man northbound in the street at 17th, turned a circle in a parking space to talk to a pedestrian, then proceeded into turn lane and went west on 18th Street

Bikes 8-9: teen boys riding southbound on east-side Broadway sidewalk, crossed street diagonally at 17th and continued southbound on west-side sidewalk

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 17:00-18:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man riding northbound on centerline of 4th Ave at 18th, turned west into library driveway

Bike 2: man wtih a backpack carrying shopping bags riding westbound on East Overland sidewalk south side at 4th Ave

Monday, May 1, 2017, 8:00-9:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man eastbound on 20th street at 1st Ave on the sidewalk on the south side

Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 12:00-13:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Avenue B, on sidewalk on east side, turned east on north side sidewalk of 20th street – at Avenue A crossed street diagonally and continued eastbound in the street until reaching business driveway and getting on the south side sidewalk

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 12:00-13:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Broadway east side sidewalk at 19th

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 16:00-18:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Broadway east side sidewalk at 17th

Bike 2: man northbound on Broadway in street at 17th

Thursday, May 4, 2017,  Scottsbluff

Don’t remember all the details, but spotted 3 bikes in the downtown area, all being ridden on sidewalks – 2 men, not sure of the third cyclist.

I’m really thinking about this – if people do not feel comfortable riding in the street, is the best way to increase cycling and facilitate transportation to encourage sidewalk riding? Yet, there is potential for pedestrian conflict, and safety issues for people riding bikes on sidewalks when they cross streets and driveways.

This article has influenced my thinking quite a bit:

How Low-Income Cyclists Go Unnoticed

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PS – I love the idea of changing the “punchbuggy” driving game, where VW beetles are noted, to a “punchbike” game, where people on bikes are noted. Get everyone’s “bikedar” revved up!

The bicycle parking project

As a regular bicycle commuter in the Scottsbluff-Gering area, I’ve been alternately pleased or dismayed with bicycle parking options at my destinations. Everywhere you go there is ample vehicle parking, but rarely is there a decent place to securely park a bicycle. A lack of basic infrastructure such as parking facilities implies that bicycles are not a welcomed or important mode of transportation – an assumption with which I wholeheartedly disagree!

To recognize businesses and institutions that are doing a good job, to suggest improvements, to encourage other entities to join in, and to show other potential bicyclists where they can park their rides, I’m embarking on this ongoing project to document and critique what’s available. Suggestions, contributions and updates welcomed!

The parking facilities below are listed in alphabetical order by city and are also linked on a Google map.

Added June 6: Here’s a simple design guide for bike parking that provides good suggestions for adding or upgrading bike parking.

Gering

Gering City Hall / Police Department

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This rack, which gets a lot of shade, is located between the Gering City Hall / Police Department building and the Gering Public Library.

Gering Post Office

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It’s a short little wheel-bender rack, but sufficient for a quick trip to the post office.

Gering Public Library

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Fish and seahorse. The Gering Public Library has some of my all-time favorite bike racks – they were made from scrapped bike parts and decorated by local artists. The only quibble would be that cyclists may not know the decorative racks are functional rather than simply decorative.

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Shark!

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Rainbow trout

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Lobster

Heritage Estates

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It’s a tiny, non-secured bike rack that could be picked up and moved, but it was there on a day I needed it.

Legacy of the Plains Museum

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Apologies for the busy picture, but it was a busy day at Legacy of the Plains Museum when this photo was taken. The bike rack is very conveniently located just outside the front door.

Monument Shadows Golf Course

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The bike rack at the Gering golf course is over by the maintenance / golf cart building

Scotts Bluff County Administration Building

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The bike rack at the Scotts Bluff County Administration Building is not functional, except that the end can serve as a U-rack. The height of the bottom of the rack makes it impossible for an adult-size bicycle to rest securely between the uprights. It’s placed on the north side of the building near an employee entrance and is not welcoming or particularly useful. I was only able to lock my bike to it by using the side pole.

Scottsbluff

Bluffs Middle School

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The bike rack on the west side of the southwest corner of Bluffs Middle school is in the blazing sun from noon on.

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Another full-sun bike rack, this one at the entrance on the southeast corner of Bluffs Middle School.

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A third rack at Bluffs Middle School, also at the southeast corner, gets some tree shade in the afternoon.

Downtown Scottsbluff

The decorative bike racks in downtown Scottsbluff are wonderful – they are out in front of businesses and creative to boot! My only quibble is that people may not know the sculptures are bike racks – I once saw a family clogging the sidewalk with their bikes in front of Runza, while the nearby french fry rack was empty.

A note to the users of downtown bike racks:
Cycling on downtown sidewalks is prohibited by ordinance. To use these bike racks, the recommended method is to:
*Arrive on the street downtown via Avenue A or 1st Avenue and turn onto the side street closest to your destination
*Signal to pull over to the curb
*Dismount and walk your bike on the sidewalk to the bike rack

NOTE: THE “FOUNTAIN” RACK AT THE 18TH STREET PLAZA HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE 18TH STREET CLOSED.

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The rack in front of Bluffs Bakery. West side. Closest side street: 16th Street.

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The rack across from the Midwest Theater. West side. Midblock, closest side streets 18th / 17th Streets.

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The rack in front of Cappuccino & Company. This is the rack I most often see in use. East side. Closest side street: 17th Street.

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The rack in front of Western Trail Sports. West side. Cosest side street: 18th Street.

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The french fry rack near Runza. East side. Closest side street: 19th Street.

The Emporium

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I love the front-and-center location of this bike rack, but it’s a bit awkward given the width of the sidewalk. If you don’t angle your bike, you wind up kind of blocking the sidewalk.

First United Methodist Church

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The bike rack at First United Methodist Church is located next to the handicap parking.

Guadalupe Center

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A very freshly placed bike rack.

Lied Scottsbluff Public Library

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The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library bike racks are an A+ in my book. Cute, sturdy, and located right in front of the library near the front doors.

Main Street Market

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Main Street Market moved its bike rack from an awkward parking lot island to a better spot right at the front of the store. Maybe not everyone has seen it yet. (See the bike in the background, far left, parked against the ramp railing.)

Monument Mall – Carmike Theater door

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A good location for a rack outside the mall’s movie theater.

Nutters

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As befits a health food store, there is a bike rack right next to the front door at Nutter’s.

Panhandle Research and Extension Center

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The rack at the UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center gets points for being under the cover of a stairwell, despite being hidden out of the way near the south entrance to the building rather than the main entrance. Still, this seems geared more towards employees than visitors.

Regional West Medical Center

The only patient bike parking at the hospital complex appears to be near the Medical Plaza North entrance. However, when I had an appointment at Medical Plaza South, the valet offered to keep an eye on my bike if I parked it near his stand. RWMC facility maps do not indicate bicycle parking. (I intend to contact them to request an update.)

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Regional West Medical Center patient bike parking next to the north entrance, at the Birth & Infant Care Center. I wonder about the (abandoned?) bike locks on the rack.

RWMC staff

There is an under-cover bike rack on the north side of the Medical Plaza North building, but since it’s not near a public entrance, I assume this is for staff.

Saint Agnes Catholic Church / School

st agnes church and school

This rack is located off an alley between St. Agnes church and school. I’m not sure how useful it is here, as the ground has a significant slope that would make it very easy for a bike to tip over and bend a front wheel in the rack.

Safeway

#quaxing

The rack at Safeway would get an A+ in my book – it’s under cover and near the front door – except that it’s not bolted down and I’ve witnessed the rack migrating further and further from the door as space is used for retail displays.

Scottsbluff High School / Splash Arena

SHS splash

The rack outside the entrance to the Splash Arena also serves Scottsbluff High School. The many abandoned locks hanging from the rack look a little sketchy.

Target

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I’m not a fan of the bike parking at Target. The bollard-style bike lockup is sturdy, but it’s hidden on the north side of the building, away from the front doors, and . . . there’s that “no parking” sign – does that apply to bikes, too?? This seems an afterthought for employees and is not welcoming to customers.

Vertex

hidden rack

A super stealth bike rack hidden next to a fence. I wouldn’t have known it was there had someone not told me to look for it.

Walmart

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Can’t find the bike rack at Walmart? Look behind the trash can, behind the butt bin, hiding around the corner from the door. What an awful location!

walmart s

Yes, there are two racks at Walmart, one by each door, by they are not sited well. Despite being near the front doors, they are kind of hidden – not want you want in a bike rack. It’s also absolutely awful to try to ride through the chaotic parking lot.

Watering Hole

watering hole

I was surprised and pleased to spot a bike rack at a gas station.

Western Nebraska Community College – Conestoga Hall

WNCC residence hall

There’s a rack in front of Conestoga Hall. If you’re going to the WNCC multicultural center or Pioneer Hall, there are no bike racks – the Conestoga Hall rack is the closest one. On this day, I saw a bike parked next to a dumpster behind Pioneer Hall.

Western Nebraska Community College – Harms Center

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Another of my favorite bike parking spots in town, at the north entrance to the Harms Center. It’s right by the door, under cover AND not a wheel-bender-type rack.

HATC south

There’s also a bike rack by the south entrance to the Harms Center.

Western Nebraska Community College – Main Building

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The all-day full-sun bike rack near WNCC’s main entrance.

WNCC east door 14

There’s a bike rack at door 14 on the east side of WNCC’s main building. On this day, a bike was parked on the sidewalk nearby, in the shade. A bike seat in full sun gets pretty hot on a 102-degree day!

WNCC west door 8

There’s a “wave” bike rack outside of door 8 on the west side of WNCC.

Scottsbluff Y

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Unless you’re coming from the river pathway from the west, the Y is hard to bike to, but I’m glad it has a bike rack. Note the curious phenomenon in the background: people think that if you can park a bike there, you can park a motorcycle there, too.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except as noted

Fun new cycling event: Candy Corn Grab scavenger hunt

You guys! I’m so excited! There’s a new, fun, family-friendly cycling event in town: the Candy Corn Grab!

candy corn grab banner

For years I’ve wanted to re-experience the fun I had on a scavenger hunt ride back in Illinois. The great folks in the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club have pulled together the first such event here in the Nebraska Panhandle  Scottsbluff-Gering (That I know about, anyway.)

(UPDATE: There have been scavenger hunts in Bridgeport for the past three years. I’ve never attended, so I forgot about them. Oops! If you enjoy the Candy Corn Grab, watch in August for info on the Bridgeport ride.)

Here’s how it works:

You show up before 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 in the parking lot of Caddie’s/Monument Shadows Golf Course in Gering (2550 Clubhouse Dr.) with 1-3 other cyclists to create a team. All of you must be riding bicycles, and all of you must be wearing helmets (and wear them the whole time!). Bring some kind of digital camera for your team as well. You will be given a series of clues about locations throughout Scottsbluff-Gering.

Your objective: ride your bikes – together, as a team, safely, OBEYING ALL TRAFFIC LAWS – to as many clue locations as you can, keeping in mind that you must be back to the start line by 1 p.m. When you get to each clue location, take a digital picture of your entire team as proof you were there. The clue locations that are farther away are worth more points, so there is a strategy involved: ride to the faraway locations to get more points, or collect more proof pictures at the lower-value but easier-to-get nearby locations.

At the end of the event, you will show your digital pictures to prove you properly scavenged each location, and you’ll be given pieces of candy corn for the points you’ve earned on your scavenger hunt.

This is a great healthy family activity to burn off a few calories before the kiddos consume all the Halloween candy booty they’ll collect that night (or before the adults eat up the leftovers the day after).

A link to the official event flyer is posted here: candycorngrab

(LOVE how the WNBC logo was adapted to the candy corn theme!)

wnbc candy corn logo

So! Much! Fun!

See you there!

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

I’ve already taken it upon myself to do blog posts about the highlights of the Monument Marathon course (in 2012, the first year of the race) and a mile-by-mile accounting of the course (in 2013). What more can I do to persuade people that the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska is The Place To Be?

How about a Top Ten list?

OK, here are:

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

10. Unique division awards.

If you are fast enough to win a division award (and your chances are better here, with a smaller race field), you don’t get a generic plaque – you get a piece of original artwork from a western Nebraska artist! Photographer Rick Myers and painter Yelena Khanevskaya have been lending their talents to the race these past few years. Here are some examples of their work that have portions of the race course as their subject:

This Rick Myers picture was cropped from an image on his Facebook page.

This Rick Myers picture was cropped from an image on his Facebook page. Both the full and half marathon participants will run on this road through Mitchell Pass.

This image of a watercolor by Yelena Khanevskaya is one of many available on her website yelena-khanevskaya.squarespace.com

This image of a watercolor by Yelena Khanevskaya is one of many on her website. This view is of Mitchell Pass from the opposite direction of Rick Myers’ photo.

9. Convenience.

The race Expo and pre-race pasta feed is at the Gering Civic Center, just blocks from the race site.  There is ample, free parking at the race finish at Five Rocks Amphitheater. Half marathoners start and finish right there at the amphitheater. Full marathoners get a free shuttle bus to the race start and gear drop service. It’s easy to find your way around this small community, and it’s only a 3-hour drive from the major gateway cities of Denver, Colorado, and Rapid City, South Dakota.

The sunrise was incredible on Year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012. Here was the shuttle bus that year, in the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, ready to take full marathoners to their race start in the Wildcat Hills.

The sunrise was incredible on Year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012. Here was the shuttle bus that year, in the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, ready to take full marathoners to their race start in the Wildcat Hills.

8. History.

You will literally be running in the footsteps of westbound pioneers, as portions of the full and half marathon courses traverse the Oregon Trail, near where Mark Twain encountered a Pony Express rider. You will pass the gates of two neighboring history museums as well: Legacy of the Plains Museum and the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center at Scotts Bluff National Monument (the latter is a National Park site, so if you have a National Park passport, you can add another stamp to your collection!).

This map, from the website of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, which is right on the Monument Marathon course, shows some selected historical sites in the North Platte River Valley, which has been a transportation corridor for centuries. (It also shows the distance between Gering and selected cities.)

This map, from the website of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, which is right on the Monument Marathon course, shows some selected historical sites in the North Platte River Valley, which has been a transportation corridor for centuries. (It also shows the distance between Gering and selected cities.)

7. Field size.

The Monument Marathon is a small race, with around 500 participants total between the full and half marathon courses. You won’t have to worry about elbowing your way through a crowded field.

At the 2013 race, the field was small enough that the half marathon winner didn't even have anyone on his tail in the chute. Leaders from race title sponsor Platte Valley Companies hold the finisher tape. The community support for this race is wonderful!

At the 2013 race, the field was small enough that the half marathon winner didn’t even have anyone on his tail in the chute. Leaders from race title sponsor Platte Valley Companies hold the finisher tape. The community support for this race is wonderful!

6. Unique race swag.

Each participant will receive a wicking race shirt and a swag bag, which in past years has included such goodies as a bag of locally-grown beans and a cookbook. Your participant medal is shaped like the state of Nebraska and, because we are practical folk, your medal can also be used as a bottle opener. The design of the race medal changes every year – collect them all!

Here is the half marathon finisher medal from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

Here is the half marathon finisher medal from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

5. Charity.

Your registration dollars help support a good cause. Unlike so many marathons and half marathons these days that are operated by commercial interests, the Monument Marathon is coordinated by community organizations and volunteers in support of the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation. The Monument Marathon has helped to raise $150,000 for scholarships.

Here's a screen grab from a THANK YOU video the WNCC Foundation assembled. Your participation in the Monument Marathon helps students like these.

Here’s a screen grab from a THANK YOU video the WNCC Foundation assembled. Your participation in the Monument Marathon helps students like these.

4. Tourism opportunities.

While there are plenty of attractions to visit while you are here, the area remains off the beaten path, so you don’t have to fight the crowds. See here for my personal list of Top 10 Reasons to Come to Western Nebraska. See here for official Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau information, here for Gering tourism info, and here for information about the wider western Nebraska area.

There's no way I could decide which image to use of the tourism opportunities here: museums, hiking, bluffs, a CCC-built inland lighthouse . . . so, here's the logo of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau!

There’s no way I could decide which image to use of the tourism opportunities here: museums, hiking, bluffs, a CCC-built inland lighthouse . . . so, here’s the logo of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau!

And to represent the things you can do here (cycle, golf, stroll by the river, fish): the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau logo.

And to represent the things you can do here (cycle, golf, stroll by the river, fish): the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau logo.

3. The scenery.

People who have never been here before sometimes don’t believe it, but there is some seriously gorgeous topography out this way.

There are a thousand beautiful images I could have chosen to represent western Nebraska scenery, but I decided to go with this one - it's a view from the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, where the race ends. Even the parking lot of the race has great scenery!

There are a thousand beautiful images I could have chosen to represent western Nebraska scenery, but I decided to go with this one – it’s a view from the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, where the race ends. Even the parking lot of the race has great scenery!

2. Top-notch organization.

The Monument Marathon is a well-organized affair, with numerous experienced runners on the race crew and a professional timing company to assist with the chip-timed race. The entire community is involved and invested in the race, which means we have great coordination with local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, and transportation officials. (Case in point: The local Nebraska Department of Roads project manager made sure to include a stipulation in their summer highway construction contract to ensure that roads will be open for race – without the race director even having to ask them to!)

Community EMS volunteers from multiple agencies come out early and support the entire race to ensure everyone has a safe race. Did you know? There is even a relay tower placed on top of Scotts Bluff National Monument during the event to ensure clear EMS radio communication.

Community EMT volunteers from multiple agencies come out early and support the entire race to ensure everyone has a safe race. Did you know there is even a relay tower placed on top of Scotts Bluff National Monument during the event to ensure clear EMT radio communication?

1. Small-town hospitality.

Western Nebraska is the kind of place where residents will greet you with genuine friendliness. We tend to go out of our way to make sure you have a good experience so you will tell your friends about us and come back for a repeat visit yourself. Hundreds of community volunteers will assist and cheer for you on race day. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of course volunteers and cheerleaders.

The drizzle on year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012 didn't dissuade this racing fan!

The drizzle on year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012 didn’t dissuade this racing fan!

The Pine Ridge Agency Singers sang encouragement songs to runners as they came up a final hill on the Monument Marathon half/full course in 2013.

The Pine Ridge Agency Singers sang encouragement songs to runners as they came up a final hill on the Monument Marathon half/full course in 2013.

An Elmo balloon photobombs these colorful race fans from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

An Elmo balloon photobombs these colorful course marshals / race fans from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

If you don’t quite trust the wonderful things I’m saying about the Monument Marathon (yeah, I’m a bit biased, since I’m on the planning crew), check out the reviews and blog posts from runners who have actually run the race.

Sign up today! You’ll make the race director’s heart happy. 🙂

Y Not Ride 2015 – mini tandem rally?

Saturday was a beautiful day for the Y Not Ride mini tandem rally. Temps started in the 50s and climbed into the 70s under mostly clear skies. The ride started at 8 a.m. with no wind, but it soon picked up to 15 mph out of the west, giving those of us headed towards Bayard a nice boost, but draining carb stores on the route back west towards Scotts Bluff National Monument.

I don’t know how many people registered for the four routes this year, but the YMCA parking lot was decently full of bikes. Alas, I forgot to take a picture!

An interesting point about this year’s ride – there were at least five tandem bicycles, including yours truly – Wyobraska Tandem, and a recumbent tandem!

It’s turning into a mini tandem rally!

Here is a portion of the mini tandem rally in the parking lot of Scotts Bluff National Monument. The bike at right is a tandem - it's just turned at the wrong angle to see it.

Here is a portion of the mini tandem rally in the parking lot of Scotts Bluff National Monument. The bike at right is a tandem – it’s just turned at the wrong angle to see it.

So a quick note to folks who say “i saw you on your tandem this weekend” – unless it’s a red Co-Motion tandem, it’s not us! We’re not the only tandem in town.  🙂

Thanks to the folks who organized, volunteered for and sponsored the ride, and to the Bayard Depot Museum and Scotts Bluff National Monument for serving as rest stop hosts!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Ten-miler

Last Saturday morning, I got up around 6 and the wind was howling.

Did NOT feel like going for a long run in that wind, so I didn’t. I put off running until later in the day.

Around 5:30 p.m., when the average wind speed was 16 mph gusting to 40, Bugman and I headed out north on 5th Avenue, until it turned into County Road 22, until it dead-ended at County Road G.

County Road G: run 2 miles east. Pass a farmer planting corn. Get passed by three vehicles, including someone you know who is on her way to chicken-sit at her brother's house.

County Road G: run 2 miles east. Pass a farmer planting corn. Get passed by three vehicles, including someone you know who is on her way to chicken-sit at her brother’s house.

After running east on County Road G, encounter an old guy in a pickup truck at County Road 24. Turn south.

While not all of them were visible in this frame, I think I could see every water tower from this road: the one at the country club, the one at the soccer field, the one at the airport, the one up the street from my house.

County road G: run south 2 miles. While not all of them were visible in this frame, I think I could see every water tower from this road: the one at the country club, the one at the soccer field, the one at the airport, the one up the street from my house.

On CR G, we were startled by the exclamations of a flock of domestic turkeys.

Bugman said he remembered these turkeys from a run he took nearly a year ago. "The same turkeys?" I asked. "They're pets?" "Well, maybe not the SAME turkeys, but they were in the same place."

Bugman said he remembered these turkeys from a run he took nearly a year ago. “The same turkeys?” I asked. “They’re pets?” “Well, maybe not the SAME turkeys, but they were in the same place.”

A dog came racing out onto the road towards us, hackles up. We stopped in our tracks. I yanked off my hat – my only weapon – to throw at it. Its Labrador buddy bounded out in front, wagging madly. “It’s OK, puppy. It’s OK.” We edge out of their territory.

The road curved west, and someone was out on their property pruning grapevines.

Somewhere around mile 8, my get-up-and-go must have got up and went. It was just an unpleasant slog back home. I averaged a 12:52 pace over the whole run.

I harbor doubts about whether I will be able to complete a full marathon when I have days when 10 miles seems so hard.

Then I get messages from the universe like this one, on a parked car on our street:

run fast

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw

The Lyman-Henry loop

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.

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.

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.

For once, I didn't have to prop the camera up on something. Kathi took this picture for us.

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?

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.

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.

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.

north platte national wildlife refuge

FYI: if you go for a hike, make sure to check for ticks when you’re done.

Dog tick. Brrr! (You have nothing more to fear from this particular tick. It is deceased.)

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.

north platte river

River of sand?

Once we cycled across the bridge, the pitiful river trickle was visible on the north side of the sand dune:

north platte river holloway bridge

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.

highway 26 picnic shelter

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.

morrill picnic shelter

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.)

morrill park

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 swiveling to catch the threat that chased away its compadres.

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!

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