Y Not Ride, community ride 2016

This year’s Y Not Ride community ride was a bit challenging. There was a stiff breeze out of the east (25 MPH sustained, gusting to 35-40), and there was wildfire smoke from Canada, and some folks on the 54-mile route got caught in rain showers, but it was still a great kickoff to the cycling season. I appreciate all the volunteers & sponsors who make it happen! Thanks as well to the Bayard Depot Museum and Scotts Bluff National Monument for serving as rest stops!

A few pictures from the ride:

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A Western Nebraska Bicycling Club member passes us on our tandem. The fact that the smoke from the sugar factory stack in the background is going horizontal gives an indication of the wind.

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Cattle sloshing around in a marshy area. Note how hazy the air is. That wasn’t moisture. It was wildlife smoke. As the day went along, the smell of smoke got stronger and the density of smoke particles got thicker.

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The wildfire / air quality map from that morning, from airnow.gov.

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Hooray for the SAG volunteers! Also, hooray for the fact that this was our turn on the 28-mile route, and we could quit bucking the wind! (I do much prefer to have a headwind on the way out, when I’m fresher, so a wind out of the east wasn’t the worst thing in the world.)

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More cattle. The babies gamboling on the greenery were so fun to watch!

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Approaching the overpass bridge in Gering, you can just baaarely make out the outline of Scotts Bluff National Monument in the distance. Darned smoke! *koff koff*

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Rolling through Gering, 53 degrees, pushed along by the same wind pulling the flags out horizontal.

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A touch of sun illuminates the smoke-blurred bluffs.

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At the Scotts Bluff National Monument rest stop. I was rather wishing I’d brought my jacket as this point. Kind of chilly. But we were almost home! (Photo courtesy of water station volunteer.)

I’m looking forward to the end-of-season “Monument to Monument” Y Not Ride challenge ride in September! (Note: the M2M ride is a great supported 50- or 100-mile ride for out-of-towners who want to see two National Monument properties and some gorgeous High Plains scenery. Keep in mind, while it’s the “plains,” it’s not flat.)

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

 

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Wyobraska bike events 2016

Given that there seems to be a proliferation of bicycling events in the Wyobraska region of late, I wanted to start a list page for folks seeking such info. Let me know of additional events I need to add.

For a list of local bike events and Western Nebraska Bicycling Club events, as well as non-local events WNBC club members are attending, see the group Google calendar.

Y Not Ride community ride starts at the Scottsbluff Y.

Y Not Ride community ride starts at the Scottsbluff Y.

Saturday, May 7, 2016
Y Not Ride, community road/path ride
Scottsbluff
This is a casual and family-friendly season-opener ride sponsored by the Scottsbluff Y. Route options include 3, 9, 28, and 54 miles. This is a supported ride with SAG vehicles and snack stops. The shorter routes are on bike path and bike lanes in town and cost $5 ($15 max per family). The longer routes are primarily on inter-community highways cost $10 ($30 max per family). All routes start and end at the Scottsbluff Y. April 18 registration deadline to guarantee a t-shirt ($11 short-sleeve or $13 long-sleeve). Otherwise, you can register at 7 a.m. the day of the ride, which starts at 8 a.m. Registration forms available at the Y or register online.

Sunday, May 22, 2016
Robidoux Quick & Dirty, gravel grinder race / recreational gravel ride [inaugural year!]
Gering
This is a race on rural, mostly gravel roads, but casual riders are welcome as well. Just be aware that, like most gravel grinder races, this ride is minimally supported. Also note: this course is not flat! There is over 4,000 feet of climb on the full race route. Registration for the 75-mile race is $55 and must be completed online by May 1. Registration for the 28-mile recreational ride is $20 on May 21, the day of packet checkin. Riders must check in Saturday, May 21, at the meet-and-greet, 4-7 p.m. at Five Rocks Amphitheater. Both rides begin with a rolling start from Five Rocks Amphitheater, which is also the finish line. There is a cap of 200 riders. To register and for more info, see the event website.

Sunday-Monday, July 3-4, 2016
Tour de La Grange, overnight road tour
Mitchell
This ride, organized by the Mitchell Evangelical Free Church, is a supported out-and-back ride on paved roads from Mitchell to La Grange, Wyoming, about 55 miles per day. Sunday night tent camping in a park or a dormitory stay – enjoy the fireworks and ice cream social. Gear transport and meals will be available. Registration cost $35. For information see the event Facebook page or the church website.

Early morning registration at the Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb.

Early morning registration at the Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb.

Saturday, July 9, 2016
Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb, road time trial
Gering
Racers in this perennial Oregon Trail Days event will ascend to the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument on the paved 1.6-mile Summit Road (average 5% grade). Registration opens at 6 a.m., and riders are released one at a time beginning at 7 a.m. There are road bike and mountain bike divisions for men and women. Cost is $20. Preregister by July 1 to guarantee a shirt. There is a cap of 90 riders. For more information, see the event website.

A rider southbound on Highway 71 passes through gorgeous High Plains scenery enroute from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument to Scotts Bluff National Monument.

A Monument to Monument Y Not Challenge Ride participant passes through gorgeous late-summer High Plains scenery enroute from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument to Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Saturday, September 10, 2016
Y Not Ride Challenge, aka Monument to Monument, road ride
Gering
This is the Scottsbluff Y’s season-closing challenge ride. Route options include 50 and 100 miles – ride from Scotts Bluff National Monument to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and back (100 miles), or use the shuttle and bike trailer service to ride one-way only (50 miles), either to Agate or to Scotts Bluff. This is a supported ride with a SAG vehicle with snacks/water. Sandwiches are served at Agate for participants between 10:30-noon. There are hills on this scenic paved rural highway route, most of which has no shoulder. Riders on the 100-mile and “to-Agate” 50-mile route leave Scotts Bluff National Monument at 7 a.m. Riders on the “to-Scotts-Bluff” 50-mile route leave Scotts Bluff National Monument on the bus at 10 a.m. (please arrive by 9 a.m. to load your bike). For up-to-date information about the event and registration, see the event website.

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

Dead red and the Idaho stop

On May 3, Bugman and I headed to the Scottsbluff Y for the start of the Y Not Ride – a great kickoff to the cycling season, no matter your level of fitness (routes include 3, 9, 28, 54, and 91 miles).

Wheeling to the start. We weren't the only tandem!

Wheeling to the start. We weren’t the only tandem!

On the way to the Y, we headed south on Broadway and attempted to turn left onto Beltline. I say “attempted” because the stinking traffic light did not register our presence as we sat there, patiently waiting though more than one light cycle.

Dangit!

Had to dismount, walk to the corner, and push the pedestrian crossing button. Why is it that some traffic lights will register a bike, and others won’t? (I’m sure I can research that and write another post at some point.)

A short time later, I read an eye-opening Vox.com article that has me reciting the phrases “Idaho stop” and “dead red” on my cycle journeys: “Why cyclists should be able to roll through stop signs and ride through red lights“.

According to this article, in 13 states, the “dead red” maneuver is legal.; i.e. – cyclists can legally ride through a red light if they have stopped, waited an appropriate period, and there is no traffic. (There are several other caveats in many of the states, like “only applies to an inoperative/malfunctioning light” or “must have reasonable belief that signal is controlled by vehicle detection device.”)

Mind = blown.

I have always awkwardly dismounted and walked over to a pedestrian crossing, or pulled abnormally far into the intersection to encourage a car behind me to move up and trigger the light. It never dawned on me that it might be LEGAL to ignore the signal.

I’m not sure I would feel entirely comfortable blowing a red traffic light. I’d be expecting law enforcement to come after me. Or, as pointed out in the Vox article, drivers might view me as a lawbreaking biker. A lot of drivers already view cyclists in a highly unfavorable light. I don’t want to add to that impression.

Still, what do you do when you get stuck by a stupid light that won’t turn?

Then there are stop signs.

I will admit – if there is nearby traffic, I come to a full and conscientious stop, so as not to cause vehicular confusion. But if there is no one around, I roll those neighborhood stop signs, baby. Now I know there is a name for that practice.

“Idaho stop,” I say to myself as I roll through a deserted residential intersection.

In the state of Idaho, as the name implies, cyclists do not have to stop at stop signs but may treat them as yield signs.

As the Vox article and a linked video from Oregon point out, cyclists spend a lot of energy getting back up to speed after a full stop and tend to, as a matter of course, prefer the rolling stop.

The article has an interesting argument for the Idaho stop rule:

There are even a few reasons why the Idaho stop might even make the roads safer than the status quo. In many cities, the low-traffic routes that are safer for bikes are the kinds of roads with many stop signs. Currently, some cyclists avoid these routes and take faster, higher-traffic streets. If the Idaho stop were legalized, it’d get cyclists off these faster streets and funnel the bikes on to safer, slower roads.

I’d buy that.

However, in instances where there was nearby traffic, I would always treat a stop sign as a stop. After all, I have seen plenty of cars blow stop signs, and if we both did that, I, the puny bicyclist, would lose.

Readers – what are your thoughts on the dead read and Idaho stop? What are the common practices in your area?

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Y Not Ride? Saddle sores!

I just love that there are so many healthy community activities springing up in the area. I’ve previously mentioned the Monument Marathon, which has gotten a lot of people out on the roads around here. Another new-within-the-past-couple-of-years event is the Y Not Ride, organized through the Scottsbluff YMCA, which took place May 4.

The Y Not Ride has five distance options and is friendly to riders at all levels:

  • 3 miles to the Trails West camp
  • 9 miles to Scotts Bluff National Monument
  • 28 miles to Melbeta
  • 54 miles to Bayard
  • 80 miles to Bridgeport

Bugman and I chose the 54-mile option, since we need to get some miles out on the road, and it would be nice to do so with sag wagon support.

This would be our longest ride to date – surpassing the 46 miles we completed on Easter Sunday.

Let me tell you – when you are on a bike saddle for 4 1/2 hours, you had better be sure your butt’s in proper gear. I am still learning. I wound up with sores at my sit bones and could not ride my bike to work for a week. When we took a break during the ride, it was extremely uncomfortable to get back onto the saddle again.

I looked up some advice on how to deal with saddle sores.

I think I need to try out some different clothing and something like Chamois BUTT’r or Anti Monkey Butt powder.

Bugman and I also need to remember is to stand up on the bike more often, such as when we are coasting downhill. We also need to learn to pedal while standing up on the tandem. If you are on a single bike, you can stand up on your pedals whenever you want to relieve pressure on your bum. On a tandem, everything has to be coordinated.

We did try standing while pedaling for a short distance, but the gear wasn’t high enough and we sat down after just a few cranks. I laughed. It was humorously awkward. Alas, I have no photo of this, as I was working too hard on staying upright and on the bike.

On to the photos I did take!

Cyclists gather for the Y Not Ride.

Cyclists gather for the Y Not Ride.

Among the cyclists were four other sets of tandem riders! It's becoming a "thing" in western Nebraska! Alas, the other cyclists seem to be significantly faster than us, so group rides in the future seem unlikely.

Among the cyclists were four other sets of tandem riders! It’s becoming a “thing” in western Nebraska! These folks passed us early in the ride. We are not terribly speedy.

We passed by the turnoff to Melbeta and headed out to Bayard.

We passed by the turnoff to Melbeta and the Kelley Bean plant and headed out to Bayard. Somewhere just north of Bayard, we had to speed up when we noticed a loose dog charging up out of a field towards us. Someone later suggested that we should pack a water pistol full of lemon juice for future fractious canine run-ins.

Bugman resting at the refreshment stop at the Bayard Depot Museum.

Bugman resting at the refreshment stop at the Bayard Depot Museum. I was glad for the bathroom break. And the goldfish crackers. I decided that goldfish crackers are now one of my favorite cycling fuels.

Not too far south of the Depot, we passed a marker that indicated we were crossing the old trail the Mormon emigrants followed over a century ago.

Not too far south of the Depot, we passed a marker that indicated we were crossing the old trail the Mormon emigrants followed over a century ago.

We crossed the North Platte River ...

We crossed the North Platte River …

... and turned onto the modern highway that follows the Oregon-California Trail past Chimney Rock.

… and turned west onto the modern highway that follows the Oregon-California Trail past Chimney Rock. It just geeks me out that I can leave my house for a casual ride and pass through a historically significant landscape like this!

We passed horses ...

We passed horses …

... and longhorn cattle.

… and longhorn cattle …

... and the Pink Palace pub/grill in McGrew ...

… and the Pink Palace pub/grill in McGrew …

... and Castle Rock ...

… and Castle Rock.

With Scotts Bluff visible in the distance, we paused for a "butt break."

With Scotts Bluff visible in the distance, we paused for a “butt break.”

The Farm And Ranch Museum, soon to become Legacy of the Plains Museum:  the reason I am fundraising!

The Farm And Ranch Museum, soon to become Legacy of the Plains Museum: the reason I am fundraising!

The photos ended here, with about 8 miles left in the ride, because I got warm and took off my jacket.

To explain: while on the tandem, I have been wearing my camera on a lanyard hung from my neck, so the camera is accessible but not at risk of being dropped. When I have my jacket on, the fabric keeps my camera contained. With no jacket, the camera swings wildly and annoys me.

I need to come up with a better method of camera containment before warm weather sets in.

Suggestions …. ???

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw