We took a welcomed rest day to visit Michael’s sister, Amy, in Sidney. We enjoyed the day meeting her friends in town and at work, sightseeing, running errands, and just relaxing. A steak dinner at Dude’s, and pizza for lunch at Sam & Louie’s in town really hit the spot.
We saw the artillery mounds north of town–about 300 concrete dome containers covered by earth, originally built to store military armaments. They’re now rented out for storage, or sit empty. We found an open one, and entertained ourselves playing with the incredible acoustics inside. Tap tap tap. Echo. Echo.
Then we drove into Colorado to the Peetz Wind Farm… because wind turbines are awesome!
We got to see (and/or meet) Amy’s cats–Cinder, Ashley, Sasha, Angel, Rafa, and Bandit–who were noticeably more visible and social without Steve’s and Amy’s two dogs around. (Daisy and Wilson are in Virginia with Steve.) Bandit still wasn’t sure he could trust Nate though.
It was so good to see Amy (again!) and take a quick break–and thanks, Amy, for the scrumptious chocolate-chip cookies! #nomnom–but now the journey continues…
Today we’re riding our longest stretch without any real westward progress: due north out of Sidney on Route 385 before turning toward Scottsbluff. (This is a different route than originally plotted, but follows a parallel course.) We’re facing a headwind and climbing into the sandhills, but it’s a beautiful day for cycling.
Update (Day’s end): We’re in Gering, just outside Scotts Bluff National Monument. We’ll post more about the day later after we’ve cleaned up and had dinner!
Today was interesting. Michael woke up with a bout of melancholy, and eventually took a break about 15 miles into the ride to reset mentally. That seemed to do the trick, so the rest of the day’s ride was with good energy; Hills and wind weren’t really a factor.
The course flattened out at about mile 30, so the second half of the ride was pretty easy.
Route 385 offered generally good cycling with its wide shoulders, but the shoulder surface was “segmented” for much of the way up over the hills. (This segmenting is not unique to Route 385, or Nebraska roads.) The segments are separated by trenches that would produce a rhythmic “buh-bump” in a car; A bike, by contrast, slams into each one. It’s like dragging a loaded wagon off a step every 40 feet, mile after mile. Michael found this exceptionally irritating today.
Relative to other days in Nebraska, at about 1,100 feet of climbing, today’s total elevation change wasn’t even among the biggest. Also, Nate and Michael enjoyed the 10-mile downhill to Route 26.
Nate got a flat tire outside of Bridgeport. A woman passing by, Kathy, stopped to offer help–which was greatly appreciated, but Nate had already completed the repair by then. So, she helped him get his bags back on the bike so he could be on his way.
Later, Kathy caught up to Michael who was then stopped at an historic marker. “You must be Nate’s friend?” she asked, riding up, and introduced herself. She was out for a 50-mile up onto Scotts Bluff NM, then beyond to Mitchell, NE, before looping back home.
We both stopped at Chimney Rock, albeit a few minutes apart. Michael ran into several people at the visitor’s center who asked about the trip.
The route today took us along The Oregon Trail, The Pony Express trail, The California Trail, Mormon Trail, and the Black Hills Trail. Along the way, roadside markers note significant moments in Nebraska history: The first oil well in western Nebraska, The Deep Well, Mud Springs, stations of the Pony Express, and more.
It was fun seeing Chimney Rock, Courthouse and Jail Rock from a different perspective (passing by on a bicycle), as these iconic Nebraska sights are familiar places Michael had explored with Amy several times before.
Later in Gering, we ate dinner, then met up with Gary, a friend and former colleague of Amy, for a drink at Union Bar. We enjoyed chatting, and greatly appreciate the company on our last evening in Nebraska… thanks again, Gary!
Tomorrow we head into Wyoming!
Watch the Relive video here.