Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

As Jimmy Buffett sang:

It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

While we certainly haven’t cycled to Key West yet (although at times it feels like we’ve gone that far), our attitude is the number one thing that gets us through the tougher days.  Nebraska threw us a few challenges today and although for a while we were bemoaning cycling in Nebraska, we rallied to have another good day on the road.  If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane: When you spend a day riding over 90+ miles of rolling hills (which mean 5 minutes up and 1 minute down), dealing with the wind, the temperature rising to over 100 degrees, the dreaded Ka…Plunk of the uneven pavement, Grasshoppers playing chicken with you and hopping into your legs, chest and face and tiny towns that had nowhere to grab lunch you better be able to laugh and find the positive or you’ll never survive the day. 

We wanted to get an early start to the today to help deal with the heat so we got up at 5:30a and walked over to the Antelope Cafe in Gordon, NE.  A quick observation: this is the 2nd day in a row we’ve noticed what appears to be the local retired men getting together for coffee at 5:30-6a and playing Liar’s Dice.  Now why Liar’s Dice might be a fun bar game, hearing the shaking of the dice in the cup and then the pounding of the upside down turned cup on the table at 5:30a is not my preferred way to wake up.

After our breakfast we rolled out of Gordon at 7a and immediately faced road construction and a northeast wind that was working against us.  Fortunately as the day went on the wind calmed down a little and shifted to be more at our side.  We set out to find something to take a picture of and while you’ll see below we didn’t find much we did have a few good ones.  We also spent the day riding through the Sand Hills of Nebraska.  Basically these are sand dunes where grass has grown on them.  From a distance they look like normal hills, but when you get close you can see they’re all sand, but green.

While Matt and I have generally positive attitudes that helps us get through the long days, Ed has provided us with some comic relief.  One of my favorite today was as we passed cow after cow Ed wondered if the cows cared what ear they had their tag in.  This lead to a whole monologue between the three of us on cow earings, multiple cow ear piercings, etc.  You kind of had to be there but it passed about 30 minutes of us laughing and making stupid jokes…exactly what we needed.

Today we also found our new “Smallest Town Sign” with the new record being Nenzel, NE with a population of 20.  We also passed into the Central Time Zone today and lost another hour.  As exciting as seeing the Nenzel town sign was, the highlights of the day occurred during the last hour of our riding.  First, after miles and miles of the rough Ka…Plunk road we came to brand new pavement (it had been completed 2 weeks ago) in Kilgore, NE and got to ride the final 22 miles to Valentine, NE on it.  FYI, for a cyclist new pavement is like seeing a full stocking on Christmas morning. 

But the real highlight of the day was the most unexpected.  The night before in Gordon we had briefly met a couple at dinner and chatted with them a little.  Well as we were riding in 100+ heat and finishing the last 15 miles of the ride we saw the couple pulled over in their car at the side of the road waving us down.  We thought they needed help and slowed down to see what they needed.  Well they didn’t need anything.  The had driven by us and pulled over to see if we wanted cold water and/or chocolate bars!  I mean how cool is that.  We stood on the side of the road and visited with Tom and Christy from Omaha and took them up on their offer of cold water (it was so refreshing).  Between the new pavement and the unexpected kindness of strangers we finished our ride into Valentine in great spirits.  After we found our hotel we immediately jumped in the pool and then went to lunch at the Bunk House and had great burgers and homemade pie (tough choice but we went with the pie over milkshakes today).  Here’s a few pictures from today:

For Amy and Jenny, Ed sporting his MS socks!

Leaving Gordon, NE.

Not sure why this house had all these bells. When I waved to the lady watching us take the picture she went back in her house.

Getting support from Bob and Marilyn in Cody, NE

We passed more hay than corn today

The horses stopped and checked us out as we rode by

The new cowboy….pretty funny as we could see and hear him on his cell phone

Nenzel, NE – population 20 our new smallest town

Hey we just lost an hour…

Those horizontal black lines are the dreaded Ka…Plunks!

Our highlight of the day.  Tom and Chirsty pulling over to give us cold water.

Darn I was really counting on cleaning my fish and birds!

So the Valentine, NE chamber of commerace has decided to play off the town name…

The Niobarra River outside of Valentine, NE

 Herd of Elk

Categories: Uncategorized | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

  1. Amy Dittmore

    Woooo!! Thanks for sporting the MS socks Ed! Now I just have to get you guys in some Bike MS jerseys!

  2. Some thoughts…. Why would you get up at 5:30am if you were retired?…Strangers are friends we haven’t met yet…seeing the elk must have been way cool…why not pie AND milkshakes?

  3. Ken Mozek

    Sounds like you guys are having one amazing ride across the US. Pleased to hear all is well….,,,,,,keep up the good work. Ken

  4. I agree with Brenda, pie AND milkshakes! Pretty sure that the calories aren’t going to be a problem. Brenda, you’re going to LOVE Ragbrai! You can have pie AND milkshakes every few miles…plus pork chops on a stick, Dove bars, pancakes, giant turkey legs, more pie, and corn on the cob…all before noon! I think that Ken ate a few pieces of pie every day that we rode. 🙂

  5. Paul Hurdlow

    You guys have GOT to be getting psyched for RAGBRAI! Great pics and stories – keep ’em coming.

  6. john hansen

    Cows could take over the world if they were a bit more organized. Enjoyed the banter

  7. Robyn Mizes

    I love reading the blog entries and seeing all the pics (poor ear of corn!). I can only imagine the great experiences and memories!! And Happy Anniversary to you and Brenda!

  8. Lisa Blackwell

    After reading some of your jokes, Chris….I’m beginning to think you may need to get back to civilization sooner rather than later. (Your humor is starting to sound a lot like my husband’s!) I do ove all the details and descriptions from both of you. It’s our daily highlight to ready your blog. Matt, I like your philosophical summaries….keep ’em coming! The grasshopper thing really would not be pleasant! Hope they aren’t out for Brenda in Iowa!


    Love all the humorous and touching stories. Never thought much about a cows ear tag but will think of you guys from here on out. Also loved the old pictures. Thanks for sharing. Jeff and Jo

  10. Maggie Murdock

    Yes, I have heard of elk (har har)

    Are the grasshoppers jumping into your wheels as well as your legs? Is your bike covered in grasshopper guts?

  11. Gary Nemetz

    I really need to get a life. The favorite part of my day at work is reading your blogs at lunch time! Would be interested to know how you both feel relative to when you left SF..stronger? better endurance? anything surprise you?

    • Gary, probably the biggest change for us is what we now consider a long ride. I used to think a 60-70 mile rdie was long and now I look at those as “short rides”. I don’t know that I’m stronger as the almost 2,000 miles has me looking to pedal at an even pace and not attack the hills. Certainly my endurance is much better as I’ve learned how to ride day after day. No huge surprises, but many small ones like 99.99% of everyone we’ve met has been supportive and interested in our trip. I’m also happy that each morning Matt and I are still excited about riding that day and to see what the day brings.

      • Gary Nemetz

        Saw Brenda with her girlfriends at Piattis last night. She has her game face on for Rag Bri!

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