Day 13. Westward Ho!
Today’s ride was almost completely West and it continued on Hwy 30 (Lincoln Highway) for a second day. Just outside of North Platte, near Brule, we crossed over California Hill, the first major grade encountered by California and Oregon-bound emigrants who were crossing the South Platte River. We passed through Brule, where I stopped outside of the vacant “Virg’s Cafe”. Could this be a potential location for Virgil’s Handmade Organic Energy Bars? Hmmm… We continued on to Chappell, (extra “p” for pride, and extra “l” for the good life), through Lodgepole and Sunol (unincorporated), then Colton (where only a grain elevator stands), and finally Sidney (pop: 6808) and home of Cabelas. Sidney seems to be spit into the Old Sidney, which was right along our route on Hwy 30, and the New Sydney, which sits along I-80…up the hill…and against the wind. Although we gained another 800 ft in altitude over the course of today’s ride, the last 3 miles of today’s 69-mile ride were the toughest, and felt like a good portion of the 800 ft.
With a wide open road that paralleled I-80, we figured we’d have very little traffic. To our surprise, the road was quite busy and there was a very narrow, almost non-existent shoulder, so making sure we were watching traffic was important, and here is how it’s done. Whoever is pulling the trailer leads the way (Michael first, then me today), and the follower (or if there are multiple riders, the one in last place) becomes responsible to let riders ahead know that a car is approaching, by yelling “Car Back!” This means that you should be on the shoulder of the road if there is one, or as close to the ditch as possible, without ending up in it. This is always important to do, since the sound of the wind, passing trains, wandering mind, etc. can make it hard to hear approaching vehicles. The front rider has an equally important mating call, and that is “Car Up!”, meaning there is an oncoming vehicle, and the instructions to stay right are the same. Complexity, and adrenaline reach a high when you have a “Car Back” and “Car Up” combo. This means that the two will pass, potentially as they are also passing you as a rider. Rules remain in place, and even more stringent here. If necessary, you can also just stop and pull off even farther to the side of the road. Often, one of the two approaching vehicles will initiate taking turns passing by, to allow us maximum room, while passing each other safely. Another important safety feature here is to make sure that you are visible by using flashing lights, flags, and fluorescent clothing. Along with the many waving folks in Nebraska, we’ve also found very safe and courteous drivers, with the exception of “Mr. Black Ford Lifted Pickup” just outside of Sydney who seemed to be really proud of his mufflers, and thought we needed a good hit of black exhaust. We waved at him too…with all five fingers. 🙂
Today, outside of the convenience store in Chappell, we met Ezekiel as he came meandering up. He stopped to visit and inquire about what we were up to. We shared with him what we were doing and he let us know that while they didn’t have the program in Chappell, they did in Kentucky, where he was up until 4 years ago. He was very complementary about what we were doing. As we were planning our route last evening, we were putting a French spin on the pronunciation of the town…(Shah-Pell). Ezekiel let us know that it was just “Chapel, you know, like the place you go to worship”. Ezekiel had been called to Chappell to be the Methodist Minister. He asked if we’d mind if he prayed for us. Of course we said, “That would be great!”. So, we all bowed our heads right there and he said a very short, but heartfelt prayer for a safe journey ahead, and gratefulness for what we were doing. Once again, amazing people are oozing out of this land.
We experienced a good ole fashion dose of adrenaline as we passed out of Colton. Remember “Spot” from the day we rode from Sisseton to Watertown, SD? He and his snarling toothed buddies were back today. Out of seemingly nowhere three very large, rather intimidating barking dogs came running after us. Flight was the instinctual response to this…“it’s amazing at moments like this how light this trailer becomes” – Virgil as Spot is almost nipping at his heels. Fortunately the doggies got tired and turned back.
Just before we reached of Syndey we crossed the historic Pony Express Route, which was cool. After a few hours of work, we decided it was time to find some dinner. We had a great dinner at the Buffalo Point Steakhouse and Grill. The chocolate cake is amazing! After dinner we took a walk over to the Cabela’s flagship store for a look around. Tomorrow will be our second, and last rest day before our arrival at the Food Bank of the Rockies on Monday, August 18th.