I just spoke with my wife Brenda and she asked me how the day was with the 100 miles and 103 degree heat. I told her that while it was a challenging day of riding we had a bunch of great stories from the day. That in essence captures what this is all about…the riding is our tool to experience America and we never know what we’re going to stumble across. Today’s highlight was no doubt our visit to Verdigre.
First a little back story. Matt’s Mom, Mary Anna had emailed us when she saw our route from O’Neill, NE to Yankton, SD and suggested we go through Verdigre, NE for Kolache’s as they had done 18 years ago on Matt’s Dad’s ride across America. There were about 4 different routes we could take to Yankton with various distances and elevation gains. We choose the route through Verdigre largely on Mary Anna’s suggestion and I was thinking these better be good as we rode rolling hill after rolling hill. As usual Mary Anna and Dick did not steer us wrong. After 40 miles of riding we rode in Verdigre and headed straight to the Verdigre Bakery. Now when you approach Verdigre there’s a sign proclaiming it the “Kolache Capital of the World”! If you look online http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolache you’ll see there seems to be some dispute as to this claim. But no matter, our experience in Verdigre couldn’t be topped. When we walked into the bakery we received that same look we’ve become accustomed to “who the heck are these guys in spandex?!?”. After ordering our Kolache we looked for a place to sit and every table was full. Immediately a family moved to another table with people at it to give us their table and then moved the one fan in the bakery to point at us. Then suddenly we saw a woman leave the store quickly and Michelle who was working behind the counter told us she was going to get the local newspaper reporter to come interview us. We spent the next 45 minutes talking and joking with the table of older men next to us (every restaurant in Nebraska has one of these tables), the family with young children, Michelle and Jason from the Verdigre Eagle newspaper. I think we could have sat there all day sharing stories with these wonderful people while enjoying the tasty Kolache’s but we still had 60 miles to ride and it was getting hotter by the minute.
This is the spot the bakery had been 18 year’s ago when Dick and Mary Anna had been in Verdigre. Bob decided we wanted to join us for the rest of the days ride. Unfortunately after 5 feet he changed his mind.
Upon leaving Verdigre we had two immediate blog worthy experiences. First, while at the bakery they asked us if we were going to Monowi, NE and we said we’d never heard of it. They proceeded to tell us the Larry the Cable Guy had recently benn there to interview Elsie and we should go. Having missed that episode of Larry the Cable Guy I asked who’s Elsie and what’s in Monowi, NE. They proceed to tell us that Monowi, NE is the smallest town in America http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monowi,_Nebraska . As you know, Matt and I have been keeping track of the smallest town we ride through. We were ready to go there until they told us it would be a 34 mile detour. With 103 degree heat and 101 miles planned for the day we didn’t think it would be prudent to make the detour. So while Matt and I did not ride through Monowi, we did send our scout party (Bob and Marilyn) to check it out. They had a nice visit with Elise and got this classic picture:
The other experience we had upon leaving Verdigre was that we immediately ran into 10 miles of road construction where they were repairing the road with oil and loose gravel. Now loose gravel is not exactly a cyclists best friend, but we went slower and were able to ride through it. The funny part of the story was there were 4 road crew workers spaced about every 5 miles with the stop/slow sign to control traffic. As we were stopped at the beginning the worker was asking my our story. Well apparently she radioed the other workers and told them about us and as we rode through they all knew about us and cheered us on. It was the best experience I’ve ever had riding through road construction!
From there we crossed over the Missouri River back into South Dakota. While Nebraska certainly doesn’t have the beauty of Yellowstone or the Grand Teton’s, Matt and I have many treasured memories from our ride across Nebraska and the wonderful people we met. We then proceed to Springfield, SD for lunch at Norm’s Bar. Same stare when we walked in, but they immediately embraced us. From refilling all our water bottles to telling us the best way to get to Yankton to even drawing a map for us on a napkin, it was another memorable experience. One more thing from Springfield. I’ve been keeping track of quotes that catch my attention on the trip. Here’s one from Norm’s. Waitress: “We have white cheese”, Matt: “What kind of white cheese?”, Waitress: “I don’t know, it’s just white”.
From Springfield we had 30 miles to ride and candidly we weren’t particularly excited about the se last miles. It was now 103 degrees outside and there was nowhere to stop before we hit Yankton. Fortunately, Bob and Marilyn did a great job of finding a nice shady spot for us half way there to rest and change out water bottles. FYI, today I drank 300 ounces of water/sport drinks to keep myself hydrated. You’d think that by drinking that much I’d be peeing all day but that was not the case as I needed that much liquid to make it through the day. Here’s a few more pictures from today.
Ed kept explaining to us that they used to grow hemp in Nebraska and in the areas by the corn fields in still grows wild. Here he’s showing us an example of “Ditch Weed”. I find it kind of ironic he’s wearing his Bob Marley jersey.