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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MD suburb of Washington, DC
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    1,832

    Tour de Nebraska

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    From June 18-22, I rode in Tour de Nebraska, a 200-person, 5-day, 300-mile tour that started in St. Paul, NE and stopped in 4 small towns along the way, ending back in St. Paul. St. Paul was the biggest town, at just under 3000. Having never done a camping bike tour before, and having not slept in a tent for 15 years, I wasn’t sure I had packed the right gear for camping, and I wasn’t sure that living in a tent was for me. I knew that eating vegan in rural Nebraska was going to be a challenge. But what the heck.

    St. Paul is 45 minutes from my sister and BIL’s house. My BIL dropped me off at the high school at 6:30, and after breakfast and a few opening announcements, we hit the road about 7:45 on Wednesday morning, heading 60 miles up the road to Burwell, NE. Burwell is known for its rodeo. I stopped at a restaurant about 10 miles from Burwell, where I had a black bean wrap and a piece of peach pie that were out of this world. So far, so good. But in the last 10 miles, there was road construction and rain, which meant riding on muddy sections that turned my bike into what appeared to be a mountain bike. It was filthy. Here’s a picture of me on the first day.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    We camped on a treeless field that was very hot. I set up my tent and blew up my air mattress, cleaned and lubed my bike (that took an hour) and finally found the shower. After reading my book in my hot tent for a couple of hours, I walked to town and ate a nice plate of spaghetti with marinara (I chose not to partake of the other food choices—a “pitchfork barbeque” or a BBQ beef sandwich at the fair.) Surprisingly, I slept very well despite a fierce thunderstorm overnight.

    The next morning, thanks to my earplugs, I woke up late and was the last person out of the camp. I left about 7:30, but I passed a few people so I wasn’t the last one for long. The ride was again 60 miles, but there were no towns in between and there were only two rest stops. The ride was rolling hills into Atkinson in Nebraska’s Sandhills, but was generally uphill into a strong headwind. It kicked everyone’s butt. The second rest stop was at Shirley’s house, which was a big church-like place at the top of a hill that you could see for miles. It was like a magnet drawing us down the road. I got into camp around 2:30.

    We stayed in a park this night, and the rest of the nights. Setting up camp got easier. Eating got harder. My only choices during the rest of the trip were Subway veggie sandwiches, salad/baked potato meals, or peanut butter and jelly (which I had brought with me).

    As hard as the second day was, the third day was easy. Tailwind, flat, 60 miles. Neligh welcomed us with decorated storefronts, water at the visitors center, and pie at the Senior Center. It won the “best host town” contest.

    The fourth day we traveled 66 miles to Genoa, where we had our trip banquet. On the way, we stopped in tiny St. Edward, where they had a fantastic pie stop at the library. There was a wicked thunderstorm about 4:30 or so, which I rode out in my tent. I thought I'd blow away.

    At the banquet, prizes were awarded to people who had gone out of their way to help others. It was nice, except the vegetarian option was nothing close to vegan, so I had to go to a restaurant and have a salad and baked potato, then come back for the awards. It would have been nice to have been able to stay and talk to the people at the table. I sat with several very interesting older women, all of whom have biked across the country, some several times.

    The last day was a very hilly 54 miles. I got up early and was on the road by 6:30, and was back in St. Paul by 11:30. After a welcome shower at the high school, my sister and BIL and I went for a delicious lunch with lots of tofu. Finally, protein!

    Overall impressions:
    --Setting up and tearing down camp every day is a big pain.
    --Sleeping in a tent is ok if you have a comfortable air mattress. However, the next time I will probably opt to stay in motels.
    --Earplugs are essential. But they keep you from hearing the hustle and bustle in the morning, so find some other way to wake up (I never did).
    --The LLBean bathroom organizer caddy is very handy.
    --The waterproof bags from Whole Foods are perfect for hauling bathroom stuff and clothes to and from the showers.
    --Take a decent tent—several people broke the poles setting up their Walmart tents.
    --Eating vegan in rural Nebraska is verrrry difficult. Not enough protein sources, and PB&J gets old when you eat it 3 times a day.
    --On a small tour like this one, people do it year after year and know each other. It seems a bit cliquish and hard for a fairly introverted person to break into. I think the next time it would be easier, because by the end I was meeting people.
    --Bring your camera and cell phone battery chargers. My camera died the first day, despite having charged the battery.
    --A massage at the end of the day is worth every penny.
    --Bib shorts are fantastic! So comfortable!
    --DeSoto cool wings from TE work! No sunburn, and they really do keep you cool.
    --Sometimes you get lucky--I had to pay $80 to ship my bike out on the airplane, but they didn't charge me on the way back.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,783
    No shortage of pie in Nebraska

    I guess the canal is going to be a cinch for you...me-not so much
    2008 Trek FX 7.2/Terry Cite X
    2009 Jamis Aurora/Brooks B-68
    2010 Trek FX 7.6 WSD/stock bontrager

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
    Posts
    5,269
    Wow- sounds like you had a great adventure!!! I don't doubt that eating vegan in rural USA is tough- almost impossible, but I'm glad you found enough food to keep your tummy happy and your engine fueled for each day's ride. Thanks for sharing your story- I might have to keep this tour in mind for next year (I'm not giving up on touring just yet).
    Check out my running blog: www.turtlepacing.blogspot.com

    Cervelo P2C (tri bike)
    Bianchi Eros (commuter/touring road bike)

    1983 Motobecane mixte (commuter/errand bike)
    Cannondale F5 mountain bike

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MD suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,832
    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Girl View Post
    I might have to keep this tour in mind for next year (I'm not giving up on touring just yet).
    Tri girl, I read about your aborted tour before I left, and I have to admit it made me a bit nervous since I was going by myself also. But I don't really get lonely (I'm used to being by myself) so it was ok. It would have been more fun to have someone to go out for a beer or to dinner with, though. The small size of TdN made it easier, I think.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,783
    You're never alone when there's pie.
    2008 Trek FX 7.2/Terry Cite X
    2009 Jamis Aurora/Brooks B-68
    2010 Trek FX 7.6 WSD/stock bontrager

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Looking at all the love there that's sleeping
    Posts
    4,172
    Hey, DB.
    I was wondering how your tour went (it didn't occur to me to check the "Touring" forum! D'oh! ).
    Glad to hear you did okay.
    Brave of you to wear bibs on a tour. I tend to lean towards shorts when I know I'll be ... um answering calls... on the trip. I do agree with their comfort, however, and for long hours in the saddle, of course they make a lot of sense. I'll have to re-think my hang-ups. Literally.
    So it seems like your only major issues were thunder and food. That's great. My vegan friend, Susan, is never far from a case of Larabars. Food in a pinch that fits in your pocket.
    As for camping vs. hotels. Well, I'm glad you are still one of us muffins!
    2007 Seven ID8 - Bontrager InForm
    2003 Klein Palomino - Terry Firefly (?)
    2010 Seven Cafe Racer - Bontrager InForm
    2008 Cervelo P2C - Adamo Prologue Saddle

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
    Posts
    5,269
    Do you have any more pictures to share with us? I'd love to see more of your tour!


    And I don't know about the cool wings I got- I got sunburned with them on. Used sunscreen and everything with them. Drats! I was disappointed on the first day when I'd ridden 65 and back in camp my whole arms were burned. Then, the top got sweaty (duh- I sweat), and the color bled on the cool wings so now they're stained (it said that contact with wet colored clothes could result in discoloration). I'm still wearing them, but they're multi-colored now, and I still don't think they provide the sun protection I was hoping for. I'm not knocking the cool wings, I think I just burn too easliy!
    Last edited by Tri Girl; 07-01-2008 at 09:51 AM.
    Check out my running blog: www.turtlepacing.blogspot.com

    Cervelo P2C (tri bike)
    Bianchi Eros (commuter/touring road bike)

    1983 Motobecane mixte (commuter/errand bike)
    Cannondale F5 mountain bike

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MD suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,832
    Quote Originally Posted by Tri Girl View Post
    Do you have any more pictures to share with us? I'd love to see more of your tour!
    Nope, no more pictures. My camera battery died, and I didn't have the charger with me. I think there's a website for everybody to upload their pictures to, so if I can find it I'll post the link.

 

 

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