Bike all torn down and ready for box


All boxed up

Now one of many on the truck

I refer to this as Day Zero as it not a ride day but the day we all put our bikes on the semi trailer and are shuttled by passenger bus to the starting point.  here are som pictures getting the bike ready.

Those of us taking the bus are meeting in Waterloo, NE, at 7:00 in the morning to get our bikes loaded on semi-trailer. Last year I designed my own box by taping two bike boxes together. This year I got lucky and the Bike Rack had an empty tandem box they offered me. This saved me a couple hours of work and is much more sturdy than my box last year.

This year the ride is starting in Brady, Nebraska, population of about 370 people.  We will essentially triple the town’s population when we arrive.

Brad is on Highway 30 which traverses a major portion of the middle of the state.  I’ve actually been to Brady once before, a few years ago on the way to my grandmothers funeral, and I remember it well as I stopped in Brady asking locals if they had seen a 1960 era vintage VW singlecab truck that a trucker said he had seen on the edge of town a few months earlier.  No one knew of it, but the cashier at the local store said there was an old junkyard on Hwy 30 between Brady and Maxwell.  Off we went, found the salvage yard and sure enough there were a couple of early 1960 VW buses.  I even found a picture from our visit.

Back during that visit I went to the door of the house and knocked on the door.  A very elderly man answered and I could tell he was not pleased to have company.   I explained my interest in the buses and he told me it was his birthday and he did not have time to talk.  I was able to get his phone number but he told me I better not wait long, he was 90 years old and might not be around much longer.  Long story short, it was a very memorable experience.  My boys and my mom took that route for something scenic, something different and we made a game of searching for old VW’s.  We discovered nearly 20 on that trip.

Back to the present, arriving in Brady we gather our bags and look for a good site to camp for the night. Lessons learned form last year are DON’T camp near the portapotties or the door to the schools (slamming and creaking all night long). Also, don’t camp under a streetlight. What I found best for me is to camp near the semi-trailer. About 4:00 in the morning you can hear riders clomping up and down the ramp to put their gear away and it is a great way to make sure I wake up in the morning. Even with earplugs I hear them clomping!

Once I picked my site  and put up my tent I went and grabbed my bike box and put the bike together. I was careful to mark where everything was so everything is properly adjusted. Don’t want to spend my first day making numerous stops to adjust seat and steering positions.

Still early in the afternoon I decided to ride towards Maxwell on Hwy 30 to find the old junkyard I spoke about.  Larry W, who is married to someone I know and I met on this ride, told me he knew of this junkyard, the owner had died and everything was up for acution (small world he even knew this).  Sure enough, when I got there all the cars were in order and a sign stating all was up for auction on July 11.  Maybe 100 cars, including three VW bugs, two split window buses and one fastback (picture below). 

Ride was much further than I remembered and ended up doing 18 miles round trip.  Got back at 6:00, had a huge plate of spaghetti with a salad.  Around 7:30 pm we gather at the high school cafeteria for a group meeting where they go over the weeks route and other important details. After 30 years, it’s a very well organized ride.

 Can’t wait until tomorrow and see what new adventure awaits me.  But look at the elevation chart they posted.

Barring bad phone reception, I should be posting my daily blog each night and promise to do more pictures this year. Please leave comments as I love to hear from all of you during the ride (but may not always be able to respond right away).

It’s just 12 days until BRAN and I am so not ready for this.  It’s a real struggle to not let myself talk myself out of this mentally.  I’m several hundred miles behind in my training because of the cold and wet Spring we have had.  Yeah, yeah, I could have gone out in the cold and rain to put on some miles, but I REALLY don’t enjoy that.  Besides, that’s not what we usually get on BRAN.  Except, this year has me worried.  We are now at the end of May and this blasted weather is still here!

The best thing I’ve found to prepare mentally is to work on the details of planning everything for the trip.   I’ve spent the last few weeks getting my recumbent bike all tuned up, including replacing the entire drive train  and adding a fairing (wow, what a difference that made). I have managed to get in 300 miles this month, but am about 400 miles behind the training I had put in last year.

I am encouraged though by my physical ability this year. Last Spring I had barely any time in as a new bike rider on my newly purchased recumbent bike and it was not just the physical training involved, but getting used to riding differently. The sprained ankle in April last year did not help either.  This year everything feels like a well fitting glove and although I’ve not gone more than 50 miles in one outing, I really do feel confident I can manage a 70 mile day. When people ask how I can ride that far in a day I tell them I really just ride several 15 mile rides in one day. Mentally, 70-90 miles in a day is a depressing thing to look forward to so I tell myself all I need to do is ride to the next SAG stop, where I rest, rehydrate and get some nourishment. Then, it’s simply on to the the next SAG stop. And so on and so on. Before you know it you are at the camp site.

I’ve begun training for my first distance bike ride of the year, which is just five months away in early June.  BRAN, which stands for the Bike Ride Across Nebraska, is a seven day ride taking a different route across Nebraska by bicycle each year.  This years route looks more like a bell curve on a graph when you see it on the map.  Unlike last years ride, my first BRAN, which took nearly a straight line across our very long state, this one heads Northeast out of Brady, then near the top of the state heads Southeast to Waterloo which is just a few miles from my house.

BRAN last year, which was my first distance ride ever, was so exhausting I found it difficult to get back on my bike for two weeks afterwords.  I’m going to have to be in much better shape this year as I have another distance ride, Tour de Nebraska, just 10 days after BRAN.  Of course, my big setback last year was a serious sprained ankle in April.  Hopefully I don’t injury myself training this year as I have three big trips planned.  But injuries are always a possibility in this sport. And I’m discovering at my age these injuries kind of stay with you as my ankle has been bothering me since the weather turned colder.  But, hey, nothing stops a dedicated bicyclist.  It’s the wheels on the bike we worry about, not so much the technique or time it takes us to get to our destination.

If you are not familiar with these distant rides, most ask participants to vote on various factors for each of the host cities so they can try to return to these towns every few years.  This can be a real economic boom to these small towns and there is competition to be the best host towns.  This year’s route stops at one of last years host towns which was one of my favorites, Burwell.  And this time we get to ride along Lake Calamus, which we missed last year because of a different route through town.

I’m not sure how bad the elevation is on some of these days, but this route looks much better than last year and most days are only 60-70 miles each, much better than last year that had an 80 and 85 mile days, with hills!

Here is the complete route for 2011:

Sunday, June 5th, Brady to Callaway – 62 miles

Monday, June 6th, Callaway to Burwell – 71 miles

Tuesday, June 7th, Burwell to Bassett – 68 miles

Wednesday, June 8th, Bassett to O’Neill – 49 miles

Thursday, June 9th, O’Neill to Battle Creek – 68 miles

Friday, June 10th, Battle Creek to Oakland – 70 miles

Saturday, June 11th, Oakland to Waterloo – 49 miles

Total Mileage – 437 Miles!!!

The last day simply started out bad.  Rough night sleeping because of the rain most of the night.  Then at 3:00 am we heard BRAN staff on intercom telling us to quickly get into the municipal auditorium next to the city park.  60-80 mph winds were coming.  So, hundreds of us are packed in this small auditorium.   BRAN staff updated us on the weather and when it was over wished us well on finding our tents (oh, that was encouraging).  Tried to get back to sleep, I was so tired, but it did not happen.  Packed up everything in the rain and headed over for breakfast in the park.  Always someone I know at meal times, so great to actually talk to people after 8-12 hours on a bike by myself.  Had eggs, sausage, pastry, juice for $5.00.

Just one of the many flooded creeks we saw today

Started my riding at 7:00 in the rain.  Too warm and humid to wear rain pants, but did wear a rain jacket.  Rained for an hour and stung my legs like needles.  That hour of rain was the worst of my riding every and had a SAG vehicle come by I would have thrown in the towel for the day.  Rain stopped and I kept going, but encountered a front flat tire, my first all week, at about 12 miles. Aired it up and all seemed well.  Strange weather and it kept changing directions.  Just when I would get an encouraging tailwind it would change and I would be fighting a headwind which just wore me out.  My leg muscles have been sore all week but today they were really complaining.

Knowing we had to pick up our luggage by 1:00 and my 16 year old son would be waiting for me then at the end point, I was realizing I was not going to make it by that time.  So, at the next SAG stop I jumped on the truck and was able to skip 10 miles of the trip.  Good thing as just a few miles later that front tire went flat again and I decided it was time to replace the tube rather than air up the tire again.

While I was changing the tire the oldest rider on the trip, Roger, age 86, stopped for a break and we chatted.  I told him he really encouraged me to continue each day as I was only in my 50’s and if he could do it, I should be able to.  He laughed and said, “Oh, the 50’s are nothing.  I learned how to do wind surfing when I was 56”.

Second flat of the day - time to change that tube!

The hills were the worst today with a grade of 6% sometimes and I was just too worn out to manage a few of them.  Outside of Ceresco I had my first fall on a the steepest hill.  I decided I needed walk the bike but could not get my feet out of the pedals (they clip on) fast enough and fell over into the gravel and mud.  No blood – back in the saddle and off I go.

About 5 miles later, walking my bike up another hill I realize my left bike sandal (new before trip) is broken and rear ankle strap about to rip off.  What else can go wrong?  Well, about 15 miles out of Ashland, our end point, it gets very hot and humid and I run out of water.  I’m done.  I’m very tired, worn out, hot, thirsty and late.  I pull off under the shade of a farmers tree and wait for the SAG.  Nearly fell asleep on the way in.  Took a three hour nap when I got home.

BRAN 2010 Day 7Find more Bike Rides in David City, Nebraska

Woke up at 4:00 am to pouring rain.  Also woke up to rain water in my tent and a wet sleeping bag to boot.  Had pancakes, sausage and juice, managed to get on the road at 7:00 am.

For as long of a day and ride that it was, I really don’t recall much except for the very quaint town of Taylor.  Very small town but had a town square.  They were serving home made smoothies in the community center.  Someone had created these life size drawings of people in 1800 attire and they were all over town.  They had one parking meter which I think was really a joke.  Anyway, I noticed it.

Old Hotel in Taylor

Another view off the town square in Taylor

Total of 75 long miles today.  Managed to finally keep myself well hydrated but fear I may have gotten a little overheated the last few miles.  When I finally completed the 75 miles, in 10 hours, I grabbed a bottle of cold water and downed them in the shade, chatting with a minister I met a week before BRAN. Oh, they had slices of cold watermelon at the welcome tent when you came in town.  Really, really refreshing!   An hour later I was showered and a new man.  I walked the seven blocks downtown to the senior center for the great potato bar I heard about and what a beautiful town David City is.  Saw something I had never seen before, all the city sidewalks are not near the street but up by the houses.  I can only guess this is because the sidewalks were designed for visiting your neighbors.  Good planning by the city fathers.

Ride went well and although I did encounter some headwind, it was not much. Hard day peddling, but I made it!

Just one more day to go!  I’m happy and sad.  This week has just sped by but I have so enjoyed the changing scenery every day, meeting new friends and old, no TV, no news, great food, great people everywhere.  My only regret was that my slowness, either because I was not in the shape I needed to be or my recumbent is just not the right bike (very heavy and hard to manage on hills and headwinds).

BRAN 2010 Day 6Find more Bike Rides in Albion, Nebraska

Today I awoke at at 3:00 to stormy weather and the tent shaking wildly as a front moved in.  Could not go back to sleep so tore down the tent and went into the high school for a breakfast burrito, fruit, juice and coffee.  Anticipated hitting the road at 6:00 but because of the bad weather (it was storming) they wisely would not let us leave until 8:00.  Even then we road in the rain the first 20 miles.  What an experience!  I wore a rain coat and my bike shorts, the rain stinging my legs like needles.  Really did not need the rain coat as I was sweating so much from the first big hill that I was about as wet inside as out.

First town was around 25 miles and I think we all invaded a small gas station/convenience store.  I quickly downed a large hot chocolate.  While there the sun came out intermittently.  Ride was good until we turned South on highway 281.  Very busy traffic and we encountered new strong head winds.  What was worse was the 40 mph gusts.  Pushed me off the road once and I was worried it was going to push me into traffic, so at the next SAG stop I road the support truck into the campground.  I made 34 of a 56  mile ride.  The rear of the truck is open so we can see all the riders behind us.    The wind was so strong that they were all leaning sideways and it was obvious everyone was having trouble keeping their bike straight on the road.

Tonight we are in Albion and has this town gone out of their way to help us.  Camping at the fairgrounds but they have constant shuttles taking you around town.  I skipped the rustic fairgrounds showers and took the ride into town to use the ones at the fitness club.  Wise choice.

They have a very nice events center here at the fairgrounds where I found spaghetti, beer garden and free wi-fi.   Hopefully I can  load up all those pictures I have been taking.

Oh, forcast is rain and wind again.  Some told me the running joke is that BRAN really stands for  Bringing Rain Across Nebraska.  I believe it!!!

BRAN 2010 Day 5Find more Bike Rides in Burwell, Nebraska

Last night I decided I wanted to leave today when the sun came up to avoid as the winds that build up in the afternoon, plus it was a very long ride from Thedford to Burwell.  Tried to have all bags packed so I would just need totear down tent and go.  Even skipped my air mattress.  Mistake!!  Tossed and turned for 45 minutes on the hard tent floor and blew up the mattress.

What a site in rural Nebraska, four jets being shipped on a train

Did I mention that nearly every town is on a train route?  Coal cars go by every 20 minutes and blow their horn.  And then there are the coyotes that howl at each other all night.  Thank goodness I remembered ear plugs.  But when it is not raining the sky is just ablaze with stars!  You can see the Milky Way.

Awoke at 4:30 am, tent down, bags packed and loaded on the semi truck by 5:30.  Breakfast of biscuits and gravy, fruit and OJ.  Out of town by 6:15.

Normally my legs start to do what I want without complaining at about 15-20 miles.  Not today, it eas more like 50. Legs hurting today on the hills and there were several today.  At a great meal at a really cool place at 50 miles in called Uncle Bucks.  Guess it is restaurant and inn.  Very nice and big when you consider the population of the town is 29.

Can you guess what it is they serve us at every meal?

After lunch I started to poop out big time.  Either it was the big meal, dehydration, the heat, too much sun or a combination of these.  At the next SAG stop I drank lots of water and took a power nap of about 5 minutes.  Took off riding and perked up a few miles down the road, ending at 89 miles for the day, a personal milestone.  And it only took 12 hours!!!! 😉

Set up the tent and went searching for food, which I found at the catholic church. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and cake.  Visited with a husband and wife I know from the Omaha Ski Club, then when the departed I saw my pharmacist and visited with her and her friends for a while.

Back to the high school for a hot shower (rare on these trips) and now writing this blog post.

Tomorrow is only 64 miles but a few hills, headwind and 50% chance of rain in afternoon.

<a href=”″ mce_href=”″>BRAN 2010 Day 4</a><br/><a href=”” mce_href=””>Find more Bike Rides in Thedford, Nebraska</a>

Today was much better! As I mentioned in my update of Day 2, we did not get severe weather, but just the

High school I slept in during storm

same the local sheriff made us all sleep in the high school. It was quite a site and I wish I had my camera as there were people everywhere . I was in the gym and it was full. All the hallways were full. They turned on the lights at4:00 am and breakfast was ready (eggs, pancakes, ham, juice and milk).

Not sure how I can get up at 4:00 and still not hit the road until 7:00, but I guess it had a lot to do with the standing water I found in my tent. Even ma my tent. Even made it inside my bags which I forgot to close entirely. Nothing damaged, so no problem really. I was just happy the tent had not been damaged or blown awmy bags which I forgot to close entirely. Nothing damaged, so no problem really. I was just happy the tent had not been damaged or blown away.

We had wind to our back all day and we dropped 1000 feet in elevation with only a little climb. Had rain from about 10:30 to 11:30, but not severe. Lunch stop at a small town (will list name later, can’t recall name) and had a wonderful cheeseburger and fries. Lasted me all afternoon (up to this point I have been constantly hungry.

Being passed by a bunch of Corvette owners

We had wind to our back all day and we dropped 1000 feet in elevation with only a little climb. Had rain from about 10:30 to 11:30, but not severe. Lunch stop at a small town (will list name later, can’t recall name) and had a wonderful cheeseburger and fries. Lasted me all afternoon (up to this point I have been constantly hungry.

Such beautiful landscapes in the Sandhills of Nebraska

I should mention that that BRAN has wonderful SAG (support and gear) stops about every 12 miles with apples, bananas, oranges, candy, snacks and cold water. I’m learning it is great to full up ever stop.

A typical SAG stop

Absolutely fantastic weather the last half of the ride and I got my ride done in a little over four hours. Average speed was 13.8 mph and my maximum speed was 34.6 mph. To help you realize how much different that is from the first two days, I did 9.5 mph on Sunday and 9.1 mph yesterday and both of those was pedaling hard against a constant wind.

I splurged and rented a chair from the one charter service on the trip for $20 for the week but tonight was the first day I got to use it. I’m currently sitting under a big open tent, feet up, nice breeze, sipping my second glass of lemonade. Will venture off soon to find some food, showers at the high school and hopefully wash out my clothes from the first of the week.

Great trip! Despite the bad weather, wind and hills, this has been what I expected and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.

BRAN 2010 Day 3Find more Bike Rides in Hyannis, Nebraska

Rain during the night and rain as I tore down the tent. Up at 4:30 again with the sound of tent zippers and people loading their bags in the semi. Nine hours of sleep did wonders.

Was on the road by 6:00 AM and stopped at Taco Johns for something to eat that would shock my cardiologist.  But hey, I’m burning off 5,000-6,000 calories a day.

Ride started with a mist and cold wind, temperature about 54 degrees, 40 with windchill and even colder when y3 lane bowling alley where we had lunch. I got the last sloppy  joe!ou consider riding creates its own windchill.  More hills today.  Had lunch at a town that was like something out of the 1940’s, very small town (like 10 buildings).  Lunch served at the 3 lane bowling alley.

Found out I was one of the last 15 out of over 600 riders.  But did the 58 miles and rolled into the full campground only to see people tearing down their tents.  Seems we have the potential 60 mph winds tonight as two storm cells collide. Might be sleeping in the high school tonight.  Oh joy, more rain.

The good news is I feel good and no aches or pains. Looking forward to my first shower and shave of the trip.

Day 2 update: We survived the storm with hundreds of us sleeping in the high school.  I was in the gym with a wonderful chorus of snoring all night.   Lights on at 4:00 am and breakfast ready.

It was the worst day riding ever! EVER!!!

And I did not even finish.  At about mile 75 of 83 I had the SAG vehicle drive me in to Alliance.  We struggled with sustained strong headwinds the entire day.  Made the ride feel more like over 100.  And the sun!  Oh my!

Of course, when I got in and ready to set up my tent it started to rain.  Managed to get it set up and went over to the Baptist church for a nice BBQ dinner.  Went back to the tent, layed out my sleeping bag and fell asleep with my bike clothes on before 7:00PM.

When I said it was the worst day ever, I mean the conditions.  I’m glad I did the ride, despite exhaustion and probably dehydration.

Recumbent Ron

Beautiful Scenery Today!

Sharing the roads with the Big Boys

Passing Through Fort Robinson

Cliffs behind Fort Robinson

Another View of the Cliffs