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Day 7: 23-Aug-2002 Broken Bow - Spalding. (map)

Today's distance       90.9 miles
Time moving: 7 hours, 52 minutes
Time stopped: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Ending elevation: 1873 ft
Max speed: 31.3 mph
Moving average speed: 11.6 mph
Overall average speed: 8.1 mph
Cumulative climbing: 3013 ft
Cumulative descent: 3789 ft
Total distance: 426.0 miles

Today featured an early start, about 90 miles of riding, one near death experience, and a road-rash generating spill about 200 yards from my final destination.

I was awake and ready to go by about 5:45, but waited around for some daylight (sunrise was a few minutes before 7:00), so got a nice, early start. I was hoping to avoid the predicted afternoon thunderstorms, and was also hoping to follow the rest day with a strong day.

The ankle pain today was much different than before. Not as sharp, and less grinding. Last night before bed I took a careful look at both shoes and pedals to make sure everything was the aligned correctly, and also lubed the chain and fixed a slow leak in the front tire that had started, courtesy of Mr. Goathead, on the second day of the trip.

I am very glad I took the hilly northern route instead of US30. The hills give the ride character and break up the monotony of the miles. The people who think Nebraska is a flat, dull, endless state should get off of I-80 and get into the hills.

These photos were taken somewhere around Arcadia.

The morning ride was uneventful and I made it to Scotia, and sat on a grassy lawn at the main intersection for a while, then went for lunch  at the town tavern (Happy Jack?). The hand-written sign in the window said "Now Serving Lunch" so I stopped in, and the only occupants were the bartender and her 4-year-old daughter, who were watching cartoons on TV. The kitchen consisted of a chest freezer, electric skillet, and Fry-daddy. The bartender rummages through the freezer to see what is available. No fries, but she offers to go to the grocery store across the street and get some for me. She pulls some cash from the register, and in a couple of minutes is back. She cooks me a burger and fries, and with a can of Coke the entire tab is $3.00.

Nearby are some chalk hills, and mines.  When I rode through I didn't know if they are still active, but some of the local signs mention chalk mining.  It is the Happy Jack mine.  I wish I had known about this beforehand, I might have made an excursion to have a look.

After lunch I found a water spigot at an RV parking spot across the street from the bar. As I was filling my water bottles two people stopped by. One woman asked if I was camping and told me there was a nicer campground just a few blocks east. Then a sheriff's deputy drove by, and we chatted for a while and he told me there was a camping area in Spalding, along the Cedar river. Spalding would make it about 88 miles for today, and looked like a nice goal. He also said that there is a town park in Greeley, and while it doesn't have a campground he thought the locals probably wouldn't mind if I pitched a tent there for a night. But it sounds like making it to Spalding would be the best bet.

Burning Sands golf course near Scotia

Hangars at the Greeley airport.  My friend Dan Doner was flying a rented Cessna 182 from Indiana to Fort Collins a few years ago, and he had borrowed my Garmin 90 aviation GPS.   As he was flying across central Nebraska he began to notice oil droplets accumulating on the windshield.  In a single engine airplane, this is a dire situation.  This GPS has a GOTO NEAREST feature, which lets you push a button twice and navigate to the nearest airport.  This is where it brought him.  He landed on the grass runway (the pavement in the foreground is the highway, not a runway) safely, but the airplane's engine was on its last legs.

I got to Greeley in good time, and stopped at the cemetery and sat down under a nice tree among a beautiful stand of Blue Grama grass, in peak bloom. I called Markey (Blue Grama is her favorite grass) and rested for about 1/2 hour. I was ready for more riding. I headed north on route 281, a moderately busy (by central NE standards) highway with a car or truck passing by every few minutes. Then I looked ahead and saw a car coming at me, in the northbound lane, trying to pass a line of 3 semis and another car, and this forced me off the road and into the ditch. *sshole. Almost every single driver I've come across on this trip has been safe, courteous, and I can't begin to count the number of waves, "thumbs up" and smiles I've gotten. But it would only take one moron like this to ruin my whole day.

My uncle Chuck Weber told me I should title this one "Plant me a stone, I'm Home"  

Blue grama grass in the Greeley cemetery,

The rest of the trip to Spalding was tiring, maybe even tedious, but otherwise uneventful, until I was across the street from the campground. The cop in Scotia had given me rough directions to the area, and I saw the golf course and an adjacent park, which I thought was the campground. The road leading to this park was once paved with asphalt, but is now covered with pea-sized gravel. Being very fatigued, my reflexes were slow and before I knew what was happening I was going down, onto my right side. My elbow was missing a couple square inches of skin, and there was quite a bit of blood, but no damage to the bicycle. Oh well. Stand up, brush off, try to look cool, and realize I'm not at the right place -- the campground is across the road.... Push bike across the road and down the gravel access road to the tent area at the end, near a canoe access.   Set up tent and rode into town for food and water, life is good.  This was a very quiet spot,.  Two or three cars drove down the road during the course of the night, but there weren't any other campers, and I didn't talk to anyone else until the next morning, where I met a couple of fishermen as I was packing up.

My tent in the Spalding campground, during a break in the rain the next morning.  It stopped raining just long enough for me to get packed up.

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