I was struggling with the title for today’s blog as I have a certain standard to live up to. Today’s ride was long (114 miles), flat (less than 1,000 feet of climb) and we took a total of 14 pictures between all of us. I was at a loss for a blog title and then suddenly as if knowing I needed a little inspiration today the billboard below appeared. Now personally as someone who has spent their career in marketing, I’d think perhaps they should come up with different slogan to promote the region unless of course the idea is to keep people away.
With a long hot day of riding ahead of us we wanted to get an early start to the day. We rolled out of Valentine at 6:50a, but due to the hour time change that was right around sunrise. The nice thing about leaving at dawn was there was a wonderful chill in the air that we all savored as we knew it would soon become a distance memory.
Today’s route was supposed to take us on the cowboy trail for our entire ride. The cowboy trail is part of the Rails to Trails conversion of the old unused railroad tracks and is the longest such trail in the U.S. It’s a nice hiking/biking trail, however it wasn’t designed for the skinny tires of a road bike. We tried riding on the crushed gravel of the trail and quickly determined that it was bumpy and we could go no faster than about 15 mph. Since can comfortably ride 20-23 mph on the road and we had 114 mph to ride we abandon the cowboy trail and went back to riding on Hwy 20.
So as I mentioned earlier, it was flat, long and hot. That led to miles and miles (think of the Who’s I Can See for Miles) of nothing but farmland with a few soy bean and corn fields, but mostly hay fields with thousands of hay rolls. We’d go long stretches just rotating our paceline every 5 minutes and not talking but just clicking off the miles. Of course anytime we passed cows Ed would talk to them. One interesting observation regarding the cows is how they notice us. We’d see cars and trucks pass the cars and they’d just continue grazing, but as soon as we got near them they’d literally stop grazing, raise their heads and stare at us. It could be the different sound of our wheels or the fact we have Ed with us…we may never know the real reason.
One nice change is that we’re starting to have more small towns closer together. This means it’s easier for us to get cold water, ice and food and we’re not so dependant on the SAG vehicle. Our first stop of the day was in Johnstown, NE which was 36 miles into the ride. We got fresh water bottles from Bob and Marilyn and were tempted to go check out the store that advertised Vittles and Hot Mudd (?) but decided it might be best to move on.
Today we did a much better job of eating while we were riding than we had the day before. Due to the planned distance and heat we knew we had to fuel correctly if we were going to make it through the day. Now there’s not a lot of food choices for us in these small towns. Subway has turned out to be a good choice for us (hard for an owner of Togo’s to type that). We stopped in Ainsworth at 47 miles and had a breakfast sandwich and bought a sandwich for later to eat in Stuart at mile 85. We all noticed the difference in fueling better today and will make sure to do so again tomorrow as we have 98 miles ride to Yankton, SD.
Right before we arrived in Stuart, Ed got a bad cramp and we found some shade to rest in. There’s nothing like the shade of a big old tree to rest under and get a little relief from the heat. Ed then felt better and we rode into to Stuart for lunch. Now I’m going to throw Ed under the bus a little here, but heck we warned him. When we’re getting ready in the morning part of our routine is putting “Butt Cream” on the chamois in our bike shorts. We asked Ed if he wanted any for his shorts and he said no he doesn’t use it. Matt looked at me and said “Chris, he’s never going to make it”. Well sure enough later today Ed was in front weaving like a drunken sailor and I asked him what was going on. He said my rear’s killing me! Matt and I couldn’t help but to laugh a little and ask him if perhaps he’d like to use the Butt Cream tomorrow. For all you cyclists, you’ll totally get this and remember when you discovered Butt Cream. For you non-cyclist, you’re now thinking of all the jokes you can type in the comment section of the blog!
We rolled into O’Neill, NE around 2:30p just as the thermometer was hitting 101 degrees. After a nice cold shower we went over to Dairy Queen (it was that or McDonald’s) for our post-ride milkshakes. We spent the late afternoon relaxing at the Super 8 (we’re trying to set a record for most Super 8’s stayed at in one trip) and reviewing our ride to Yankton, SD tomorrow.
Fortunately, Stuart, NE is prepared in cse of Red Dawn II ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Dawn ) and Bob can be the tank commander!