Michael and I had a great stay last night at the Monument Inn and Suites in Gering, NE.
We’ll be camping the next three nights. We typically haven’t booked more than a day ahead on this trip, but because it’s Fourth of July weekend we thought it may be best to do so.
Today our planned endpoint is in Guernsey, Wyoming. It’s a ~70 mile ride from Gering, with little in between.
I’m getting a few minutes head start on Michael today, but he’ll be following shortly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he catches up on the road. My first stop is Scooter’s Coffee, just down the road.
That’s all for now. Fingers crossed that I’ll have cell service in Wyoming so that I can update this post later!
Update (6:00 pm): Well, we both made it. Michael has a bit more to share on the blog which he’ll post in an update later, but we’re both here and in good health.
The ride today (for me) started with a visit to Scooter’s Coffee in Scottsbluff, where I rode my bike through the drive-thru to place my order. It was great to meet Gary’s son, Nathan and chat with him for a bit about what it’s like to run the day-to-day business of a franchise.
After passing through Fort Laramie, which was the first settlement in Wyoming (settled during the Oregon Trail days), the roads opened up to reveal amazing landscapes and rolling hills. We are seeing our first major mountain in the distance (you can see it in the photo), but looks as though we won’t have to go up and over this one.
As I rolled into Guernsey at around 1 p.m., I felt a bit hungry so I visited a local restaurant, Twisters. They had great sanwhiches. Earlier in the day, Michael had visited Penny’s Dinner in Morrill, Nebraska. Yum.
Update (Michael): As Nate mentioned, we left Gèring separately. I missed the Scooter’s visit, but did get stopped at two railroad crossings and waited through passing trains. A local man on a bike rode up between the gates–illegally–and came dangerously close to the train. He continued after the train passed to ride erratically down the street yelling at people and trying to start fights. He was apparently not well.
Outside of Scottsbluff, Route 26 (our path out of town) is a divided four-lane highway for about 10 miles. Nate is more generous with his assessment of the quality of the road (up until Morrill, NE); The shoulder was segmented badly, and had a rough rocky surface, bordered by a rumble strip near the white line. That made riding slow, but I was keeping my distance from the two westbound lanes, given cars and trucks passing at 60-70 mph.
Whether staying on the shouldered mattered, or helped by some degree I’ll never know, but I was struck by a car nonetheless.
The impact was so loud; Even in the split second it sounded like a terrible collision. The car had veered right, and struck my bike in the left-back corner at full speed. But the angle was such that the car essentially glanced off my bike, and swerved back across the lanes as the driver tried to regain control. Something flew off of the car. I could see that the rear side panel was damaged and the bumper was hanging down. As the car skidded to a stop, it was almost rear-ended by a truck.
It could have all been much worse.
My bags absorbed the full impact, and I was able to keep the bike upright. Incredibly, the car never touched me. Both me and my bike were scratch-free–although definitely rattled!
The driver said she “sneezed” and momentarily lost control of her vehicle.
Across the road, a Nebraska highway patrolman had been issuing a speeding ticket and heard the impact. He turned around expecting to see a wreck; When he saw me upright, he was shocked. He drove over immediately.
He collected information and asked if I wanted him to file an incident report; I didn’t think that was necessary. He said he was going to cite the driver for failing to give at least 3 feet of clearance to cyclists, as is required by law. (She also didn’t have proof of insurance or registration, but I left before knowing whether she was ticketed for that.)
Anyway, I’m alive. I thanked the Universe for the beautiful day; God for the air I yet breathe; And my Dad for watching out for me. (Although that last guy might have been checking baseball scores at the moment.)
The rest of the day’s ride to Guernsey was uneventful!
After setting-up camp, I walked into town and had dinner at Twisters, which Nate recommended from his lunch stop. Arriving just 15 minutes before they closed (7:00 p.m. is too early!) I was appreciative that they sat and served me. Dinner was delicious.
I stayed in town and enjoyed the evening at a local bar, which was hosting Guernsey high school reunions–for graduating classes spanning 40 years! The entertainment was a band from North Carolina, “Carolina Reign.” The lead singer has a strong country and southern-rock voice and performed original songs as well as familiar covers. She adeptly delivered Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” to close the night. I had such a great time!
You can see the Relive video from the day here!