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

View from the bus going to Harrison, NE

Up at 4:00 am so I could have my son Alex drop me off at the Strategic Air and Space Museum at 5:30 to load my bike in the semi and get on the bus. Raining, dark, no one directing people where to go, I’m wondering if this is how the trip is organized (but later find they are very organized – must have

Harrison Hotel – Building at left said Water and Power Building, 1923

been the rain).

Sat next to a man who also lives in Omaha and works at PayPal, had great conversations with him and shared a foot-long sandwich at Subway when we stopped in North Platte for lunch.  Oh, skies cleared en-route and it was a beautiful day.  Clouds looked like cotton balls in the sky, so close you could touch them.  Also

beautiful country!  Nebraska is definitely not flat!!

Arrived in Harrison around 3:00, found a spot for my tent and proceed to set it up.  Took an hour as I had messed with the poles and screwed them up.  Had some too short, some too long.  No problem, it was a beautiful day and I’m not on any schedule.  Then it took another hour to set up my bike.  No problems, just took my time as there was lots to reattach.

Sunset in Harrison

I’ve run in to at least a dozen people I know and have had a great time getting reacquainted.  Had a wonderful dinner in the high school gym with a guy I used to work for 18 years ago.  The high school had 4 seniors this last year (small town!), but beautiful school.  Hospitality here was wonderful.  People from the town would walk up to you and welcome you, ask if you needed anything.

No, not cereal, it’s a ride close to 500 miles across the back roads of Nebraska, organized by the Norwest Omaha Rotary club and the Omaha Pedalers bicycle club as a fundraising opportunity to help others, primarily scholarships for high school students.  This year is BRAN’s 30th anniversary and they are going with the space theme, given it is 2010.   They are calling it the Space Cowboy Tour.  Costumes optional. 😉

This year BRAN will start in Harrison with the following route (approximate mileage to each city in parentheses):

Alliance – Home of Carhenge (84 miles) Hyannis (59 miles) Thedford (63 miles) Burwell (85 miles) Albion (64 miles) David City (74 miles) Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland (56 miles)

Support vehicles will haul our gear and bikes from the Space Museum on June 5th to Harrison.  We then reassemble our bikes, set up our tents, enjoy the local fine food, attend a required meeting and head to bed ready for an early start in the morning.  Support vehicles haul our gear from town to town.  SAG vehicles will provide water, fruit and Band-Aids along the route. 

Each host community has worked with BRAN to provide camping areas either at the high schools or in city parks.  Various organizations in towns, such as churches and schools provide meals as a fundraising opportunity. 

Registered riders receive a very nicely prepared booklet with information about the towns, historical items of interest, where food will be served, rout maps and even elevation maps (Nebraska is Not Flat!). 

Be sure to read my daily blog entries on the trip for details about the unique things I find along the route and my experiences.  It should be a very interesting ride for this newbie!

BRAN, the Bike Ride Across Nebraska, is just a few days away.  In August of last year I decided I wanted to expand my horizons and participate in a supported ride over a long distance.  I signed up for BRAN and RAGBRAI (bike ride across Iowa) hoping to get accepted for at least one.  I got accepted for both!  For many these state wide trips are their annual vacation.  I frankly can’t imagine that, given my longest outing was just a few days ago at 80 miles.  Doing 500 in a week ?  Oh my!

Before I signed up for these trips, I started increasing my miles last fall by 5 miles a week and eventually made it to 50 miles in one outing.  That was on a road bike and my wrists were numb and neck sore for a week.  Sure, I could do it but at what risk of damage to my body.  Carpel tunnel, chiropractic visits?  I started to research various bikes on-line and learned how recumbent bikes put the body in a more natural position, thus not hurting the body like on a road bike.  I searched ebay and craigslist  every day and finally found what I wanted at a very reasonable price.  My bike is a Burely Canto.

I rode my Burley every chance I could but a very cold, snowy, icy winter kept me off the bike all of December through March, one of our longest snow covered winters.  I got in about 200 miles in April but on 28th of that month I caught the edge of the sidewalk in the park near our home and went down, spraining my right ankle.  Up until a week ago I was still limping and feeling some pain, but this week it is much better.  So much so that I did 66 miles several days ago (with 3,000 feet of ascent) and 80 miles a few days later.  With the first day of BRAN being 84 miles, possibly 93 if new road construction begins, I felt I needed to get out there and test the limits to determine if I can really do this.