This year we met at Cycle Works in the wee hours of the morning, well not that wee for those who were already in town but those of us who had an hour drive ahead of us had to get up plenty early to make the meetup at 7 a.m. Given that it was a Good Friday and most people had to work, I didn't expect a huge turn out so when there were 12 who said they were going I was pretty excited.
8 of us ended up rolling out from Cycle Works and we would pick up another on the way out of town (crazy man Kevin ended up not going to bed Thursday night and rode down from Omaha to meet us, left Gretna at 3 am) to bring our number to 9; 2 of the hopeful participants had to bail at the last minute and one overslept but 9 was still a pretty amazing number for a workday.
The ride was a little difficult to figure out how to dress properly, temps were going to be in the 20s at the start and in the 50s at the end but with a pretty fair amount of wind for it's entirety, Some guessed wrong and ended up being a bit colder than they wanted to be, it was a bit of a blessing when Bill found some bench mittens that were left at the trail head on 84th to keep his fingers from freezing. Bench mittens are the best... until you get head lice.
With the sun out it was a bit warmer but the ride out on the MoPac was still a chilly one, especially in the open areas where the winds full force could be felt.
We rode through Eagle making pretty good time. Winds were out of the south so mostly a cross wind, combine that with the fairly level nature of the MoPac and we were rolling well above the advertised 10-12 mph average so far.
So many skinny tires on this ride, only three of us braved it on the fatties.
It wasn't much after that, that we hit Elmwood and the first official refuel stop.
The Elmwood convenience store is always a nice stop even if you're just riding the MoPac out and back. IMO there really isn't much need to go past Elmwood unless you have much bigger ride in mind, there isn't much past Elmwood as far as stores go without getting off the MoPac a few miles.
They have even cut out the middle man and just put the table in the bathroom so that you can eat and recycle your food all in the same general location. Actually it's a baby changing table but it takes a minute to realize that this is what the table is for.
Rolling out of Elmwood there were only a few more miles of the MoPac left...
...and then it was on to the gravel half of the ride, also time to start dodging vehicles.
Some a bit bigger than others.
So as to not seem like surfaceists, we even made sure to throw in a few miles of paved road. I've been by here a few times but haven't ever actually stopped to see what Murdock has to offer, perhaps next time.
Oh YES... just a bit past Murdock it was time for the MMR portion of the ride. 322nd road has about a mile of some of the most fun MMR I've been on in recent memory.
At first I thought that maybe they had graded the whole road after seeing this and thinking that it would have been a shame if they had graded such a rad road.
Same section last year for comparison.
After that first 10th of a mile or so it was all back to it's glorious former self and just as fun as I remembered it from a year ago so there was no need for a full on panic.
This is where those fatter tires came in handy and we had the advantage over the skinnys.
Love this little farm just on the other side of the train trestle we had just passed under, as far as farmers who don't like neighbors go this would be paradise. At the end of a dead end road, if you don't count the MMR, which is probably fairly difficult to drive in all but an actual four wheel drive truck. Rumor has it that there is a somewhat not so friendly dog that lives here but I've never seen Cujo when I've gone by.
Regroup and group photo time before getting back at it.
Love this bridge, without it cyclists and walkers alike would be forced onto a bridge built for and frequented by automobiles. This is a much better option.
Hwy 31 along the Platte River is one of the most scenic roads you'll likely find near Omaha, I highly recommend it if you get the chance. It is also the route for the Heat Stroke 100 every year so you can always sign up for that and not have to ride it alone.
Fishery Road is a great little piece of gravel that parallels I-80, for the most part it is pretty flat which can lull you into a sense that the hills are over... that's a mistake you'll learn quick enough once you hit Pflug Road. Pflug takes a dramatic upturn, at it's steepest it's about a 10-11% incline with 3 rollers back to back almost as steep as the first.
Pictures never do hills justice but I promise you these rollers are a butt kicker even if you are fresh, let alone 45 miles into a ride.
Not sure if it was because of the upcoming Easter holiday or not but Pflug seemed much busier than I remember, with sorts of vehicles mixed into the works not just cars.
Fortunately the Gretna Outlet Mall is only two miles from Pflug road so you only have to keep it together for a short bit before we got to the mall and lunch. Unfortunately we arrived right at noon and everything was busy, including Voodoo Taco where we decided to eat. Even the lady in front of us was not feeling the line.
Thankfully despite being busy they were fast and it wasn't too long before we all had food and beverage to satisfy the hunger we had worked up getting there.
After Voodoo, some of the group opted for some coffee from Scooters before heading back. Spicy food was already risky on a 90+ mile ride, I opted not to double up on that gamble and add coffee to the mix as well. It's a bet I'd hate to lose in the middle of nowhere when things started running for the border.
Full of coffee and salsa it was time to turn around and head back from where we came.
That also meant we met up with Pflug Road again, I think it's just a bit easier backwards but maybe that was the tacos talking.
Obviously heading back the way you came a lot of the scenery and roads are the same ones you already rode so for the most part it was more of the same and not a lot of new pictures. I did however see this road closed sign off in the distance just a bit at one of our regroups and decided to go take a peek while we were stopped for the regroup.
Still passable by bike or motorcycle but I wouldn't want to try and drive a car over that, guess it's closed after all.
322nd going the other way delivered up some good pictures again, it never lets you down... love this road.
Up the road just a piece we came across this super timid but friendly pup, he wasn't sure at first if he wanted to say hi but after a little convincing he was all licks and tail wags.
It wasn't too long after the roadside greeter that the wheels started falling off of the bus for Gary. I've been there so I know how badly it sucks, you want to keep moving and try to maintain speed but it just seems like you're biking in quicksand.
This is where we decided to split into two groups, those who had people and things waiting for them around the time we figured we would be finished pushed on ahead of us.
That just left Brian, Gary and myself to cruise home at a much nicer pace, once we got back to the MoPac and weren't riding into the 20 mph head wind things would get easier.
We decided to stay on 322nd and see what this section of MMR had to offer, it was pretty cool in it's own right but not as fun as the other section we had ridden.
The weather back in the direction we were heading didn't look too promising and like there might be some rain in our near future but luckily it never amounted to more than a few sporadic sprinkles thankfully.
Sticking on 322nd instead of switching over to 310th like we did on the way out brought us to Wabash and the beginning of the MoPac, or the end depending on your direction of travel. The section was technically closed because of a bridge being closed because of flood damage... we figured how bad could it be and decided to ride the trail rather than gravel.
As it turns out it was pretty bad, luckily it was skirtable and right at Fletcher road so after a quick traversing it was back to the MoPac and home. Gary started getting his second wind so there weren't any more pictures as we just put our heads down and powered back to Lincoln.
I ended the ride with just a bit under 95 miles at an average just under 12 mph, all in all it was a great day in the saddle with just a tad over 8 hours of moving time. It sounds like there are plans in the works for a 2nd annual LOL ride next year, the question is will it stay on Good Friday or will it move to a day that might be a bit more friendly to those who don't have it off? Only time will tell but Good Friday seems like a great day to get together with friends for this ride. Thanks to everyone who made it out, hope to see all of you and then some next year.