Brownville to Omaha

“Breakfast starts at 8:30.” The sooner I am up and around the less heat I have to ride in.  I sacrificed that hour out of the sun for breakfast.  The owner had made a special breakfast for me, which consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some fruit.  After finally looking at a map, I decided to head North to Omaha rather than West to Maryville.  It would take me two days, but the first would be a short one.  I was not convinced I could do the 47 miles to Maryville in the heat and with the hills.  Thirty-five miles to Nebraska City was much more doable.  

I didn’t get out of the floating hotel until after 9.  I barely remember the ride to Nebraska City, but it helped to take my mind off of losing my phone.  In Nebraska City,  I remember stopping to eat something, but can’t remember what or where.  Then, I found a bike shop.  I would think a bike shop owner would be more interested in a cross country rider but this guy could care less.  Not spending any money in his shop, I went on to the library.  There I took a mini shower in the restroom and changed into my muggle clothes.  I put a brief update on the blog and instagram and then plotted the next move.  

Walmart! I went to Walmart to look for an extra pair of running shorts and short sleeve t-shirt to change into.  My riding shirts were starting to get rank and I was tired of wearing my long sleeve as an around town shirt.  I picked up the cheapest, coolest shirt I could find.  They had a Spider-Man shirt that would have been perfect if it was in my size and not black.  Very disappointing.  Oh, and I got some granola bars.  My clothes were still a bit soggy and smelly so I laid them out in an open grassy area around Walmart and set up the hammock for a quick nap.  It was hard to nap with it being so hot.

I packed up and headed to McDonalds for an iced tea and large fry (electrolytes).  The kid at the counter suggested I go to the local marina for the night.  He said there were showers and I could camp there.  What he called the marina, turned out to be the state park.  I got there and was set up by 5.  I was so bored! So bored!  My phone was my only source of entertainment.  I sat there and played with a string for 5 hours before finally calling it a night.  The rest of the night I fought with the mosquitos biting me through my mosquito net.  ENO needs to work on their design.  

The next morning I had a granola bar for breakfast and set out for Omaha.  I was 47 miles from the closest AT&T.  I wrote down the street address and memorized which roads to take to get there.  I was trucking along nicely until I was about 18 miles from Omaha.

This is what I think happened:

I was going along at a nice 16-18 mph, riding on this beautiful shoulder.  Big trucks and cars were passing with ease and some even waved. I was thinking about a blog post I have been wanting to write, concerning the law and safety for cyclists on the road.  About that time my 8 ft shoulder shrinks to a 3 ft shoulder with blacktop.  It looked like a mine field with all of the potholes and debris.  I jumped the lip onto the smooth road and rode about a foot inside the white line.  I find that cars will attempt to pass me without crossing the yellow line if I ride the white line.  If I ride a foot inside the line, it forces them to cross the yellow line to pass me and they will usually get all the way over giving me plenty of space.  

The first trucker passed me in the opposite lane.  He probably got on the radio to the truckers behind letting them know there was a cyclist in the road.  The next trucker, with his trucker friends cheering him on probably said, “we should buzz him”.  And he did.  He got close enough to me that I had to squeeze my elbows in as to not lose skin.  The next trucker seeing how much fun the second trucker had also decided to buzz me.  The third trucker could not pass me because of the oncoming cars, so he lays on the horn.  Not a honk honk, but rather a perpetual haaoonnnk.  We was going to honk until I got off the road, but I was not about to wreck my bike on the shoulder.  When the cars finally cleared he got around me, but still would not let off the horn.  So I waved at him and he waved back with one finger and continued honking.  

This guy was bad, but the last trucker was the worst.  He decided he was going to pass me no matter what.  As we climb a hill, he gets into the other lane and starts passing.  A pickup was in that lane, but he stayed his course.  The pickup was forced off into the shoulder and we went by three abreast.  Just as soon as the truck got by and back in our lane I see a pothole large enough to lay down in.  If that truck had hit a hole like that there is no telling what would have happen.

At the next town, the shoulder smoothed and widened out.  I stopped at a grocery store for a snack before going the rest of the way.  All of that excitement happened in about a 3 mile stretch.  When I left the store and hopped back on the road (shoulder), I wasn’t a half mile down the road before I saw blue lights.

The deputy approached me and asked if I was on the highway heading north.  He had a report that a bicycle was impeding traffic and swerving in the middle of the road.  I told him what had happened and then asked what the law stated about bicycles.  I had to laugh, because it would be very inefficient to swerve in the road.  I assumed it was trucker number 4 that called the cops.  If my phone was working I would have called the cops on him.  By the way, I have called the cops before and they did nothing.  This guy was nice though, and looked up the the laws. 

Nebraska law states that bicycles should ride as far to the left as possible on the roadway.  Specifically, bikes are to ride on the shoulder out of the way of traffic.  Only if the shoulder becomes dangerous should the bike ride in the lane.  Then, the bicyclist should ride on or as close to the white line as possible.  Way to go Nebraska!!

The deputy then looked up the directions to the nearest AT&T and suggested I exit that highway and go on another road.  The other road was much less busy and after a few miles had a bike lane.  City planners should discuss the difference between a bike lane and a shoulder.  A shoulder with a bike painted on it is still a shoulder.  

After picking up my phone and “free” tablet, which I am now using to write with, I hit a chinese buffet.  None of the buffets I have been to so far have compared to Mulan’s.  I want a multicultrual buffet with build your own burritos, hibachi, sushi, cereal, waffles, and a bakery.  If anyone knows of one, please let me know where.  My day consists of eating, riding, thinking about eating, and finding shelter.  My shelter for the night was a hotel 16 miles away.  It was 3 PM and extremely hot.  I gave in and called Ben, the cabbie.  

Ben was from a western African country.  We got to talking about bikes and he said I needed to see his collection.  He had a storage unit piled high with bikes.  He collects and ships them back to Africa.  He was an interesting guy.  At the hotel I laid everything out for a real laundry with real detergent.  I also took out all of my gear to inventory and tidy up.  I have determined that I have too much stuff.  Only problem is I use most of it.  I have not used the solar panel or the tarp.  Everything else gets used regular.  The old phone and possibly the GoPro may be getting sent home.

I got a shower and changed into my least smelly clothes before walking down to the shopping center.  I was hoping the Best Buy could recover the pictures and contacts off of my phone, but with no luck.  I did find another pair of Asics running shorts just like my other pair, $5 at TJ Maxx.  Veggie burger and fries from Red Robbins for dinner.  It was only a 2 mile walk, but by the time I got back to the hotel I was drenched.  A dip in the pool fixed that.

I took the next day off from just about everything except eating and sleeping.

3 thoughts on “Brownville to Omaha

  1. Dad

    Most of The folks writing the laws for bicycles or designing bicycle lanes have obviously haven’t risen a bike since they were a kid. It’s amazing how much debris winds up on a shoulder of a road.



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