The Cornhusker State

June 21, 2012

WHAT a state. Nebraska presented Anna and I with everything a bike tourer would need. Few climbs, great scenery, good food, and beautiful people – period. We spent a nice rest day in Omaha with my buddy James. James is getting ready to teach high school at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. A heck of a guy, James is going to be a wonderful model for his students. On our rest day Anna and I meandered around Omaha visiting the city’s farmer’s market (more on that soon) and taking advantage of the College World Series.

At the ballpark in Omaha. We caught the Kent State vs. Arkansas game. Arkansas beat em pretty bad and I am afraid our rep from New York, Stony Brook, was eliminated pretty early. Great weekend to be in Omaha though. Super lively… Arkansas fans are good fun.

At the Omaha Farmers Market we swung by a goat cheese stand. A sucker for free samples, we were on the prowl. Anna, a big cheese fan, eyed a really neat looking stand put together by the Shadow Brook Farm in Lincoln, Nebraska. As Anna tested the cheese we chatted with Cheruth and she kindly offered us a tour of the farm and a bed and shower for the following night. We were all there.

The Shadow Brook Farm is doing great things. Run by Cheruth and her husband Kevin, they specialize in goat cheese and goat milk. Their passion and their clear love of the land, the goats, their employees, and their lives is inspiring.

Despite only 70 miles from Omaha to Lincoln, Anna and I were introduced to the “Wind of Nebraska.” Anna and I became close friends with the wind… Arriving at Shadow Brook was very nice.

We spent the evening cooking together and then spent the better part of the night chatting. We didn’t make it to bed until 2 AM, which is mighty late for those of us who have a 9 PM bedtime. But Kevin and Cheruth were so easy to chat with the hours slipped by as we talked about the farm, our trip, and just a mess of other wonderful topics.

Next morning before we took off Anna and I took a little tour of the farm. Cute cute goats.

Pigs.

To get Anna’s goat milk fix, Cheruth sent us down to the milking barn. All the goats are milked and then the milk is put into the giant vat behind Anna. She was on cloud nine…

Leaving Shadow Brook was tough. No, that is an understatement. It was very tough. Kevin and Cheruth have created an incredible thing. Please, if you are a cheese fan, a milk fan, or just appreciate people who REALLY hooked up Anna and I, please support Shadow Brook. They have big plans for their farm in the near future and we will be sure to keep you all posted about their progress.

Back to the road. The long route 34 and 30 have been our homes across Nebraska.

Anna and I usually take breakfast and lunch at gas stations and convenience stores. Our loaded bikes usually get a few questions but here in Nebraska we get a whole lot more than questions…

In Seward, Nebraska Pam and Dean became our GPS, Google, and Zagats all in one. They were eager to share route advice, camping info, and food suggestions. Dean also is the head of EMTs in Nebraska and was very insistent that if we had any problem, to call and he would get an ambulance to us right away. We were tempted to call the next day when we hit those 40 MPH headwinds…

Also in Seward we met Jack. Jack is the town Santa Clause. Really. He gifted us two winning lotto tickets. Right before we pushed off he came HAULING around the corner in his huge pickup truck. “I just won $15 on a $2 ticket! Go buy yourself something sweet!”

Something Sweet: Anna’s Reuben Sandwich in North Platte, Nebraska.

Something Sweet: My carrot cake and ice cream.

What one starts to value while traveling across the country on a bike changes drastically from the first hundred miles to the preceding thousands. We have found the direction of the wind is either our best friend or worst enemy. We value roads with wide shoulders, big trucks heading in the same direction as us (their wind pushes us a bit), shaded park benches, lonely laundry mats, and friendly libraries.

Anna and I have also become pros at gas stations. Important stuff: table within view of the bikes, free hot water, plenty of condiments, cold water from the soda fountain, and an updated daily paper. Taking over for lunch…

The vast majority of Nebraska is quite flat. Which is nice if there is no wind. But if there is any wind it feels like a hurricane. Day three in Nebraska left us with 40 MPH headwinds. Literally. We averaged 6 MPH over the course of 30 miles as we slogged along in our baby gears. It was without a doubt the most testing parting of the trip. But we trooped it out and as always, we arrived. Living the dream!

However our final day in Nebraska blessed us with no wind. Anna and I could ride in the big ring averaging over 15 MPH as we cruised!

Our 95 mile ride from Kearney to North Platte was the first time we began to see the famous sand hills of Nebraska and the Dakotas. They are gorgeous and simply look like a picture. “They look fake” I commented to Anna.

Route 30 runs parallel to train tracks clear across Nebraska. We often got toots as they passed by. Scared the heck out of me sometimes…

We ran into Tory as he makes his way to participate in RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is a huge ride across Iowa that gets upwards of 10,000 people. There are your roadies in race kits and five thousand dollar bikes, fellas doing it on mountain bikes, unicycles, and I guess last year there was a guy who wheeled a 20 foot cross on roller blades. Anna and I were stopped constantly in Iowa asking if we were training for RAGBRAI. Anyway, Troy offered us some wonderful route advice and plenty of stuff to look forward to in Colorado.

One of the neatest posters I have seen so far. Hung up in a corner store in Brady, Nebraska.

I miss the Brady Faith Center dearly – period.

Anna and I were considering riding to Wyoming and then cutting down into Colorado but I think we are opting to head south into Colorado from Ogallala, Nebraska. Ma, Dad, Petr, and Irina, you will all be happy to hear that we heeded the advice of farmers and opted to avoid the fires that I guess are doing some mighty damage in the Fort Collins, Colorado area. And from the words of a farmer in Hersey, Nebraska, “There is nothing in Cheyenne but tumbleweed, jackrabbits, and fires.” I am sure there is more, but nevertheless, vamos a Colorado!

Much love, Andrew

Support Bike For Brady

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One Response to “The Cornhusker State”

  1. Al and Gail Walsh said

    Love reading your blog and keeping up with you guys. Got your letter too!! Keeping you in our prayers for a safe journey. Al, Gail, and Gramma Betty

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