With temps forecast to reach into the 70° range, it seemed like a no brainer to get out and ride about the only issue was going to be the steady and increasing winds throughout the day. In true Nebraska fashion it was going to start our blowing out of the southwest at the beginning of the day and then switch to a northwest wind around 3 pm. This meant we were going to be riding into it in the morning and potentially riding back in it in the afternoon if we weren't quick about it. Since Joe couldn't ride with us due to Black Friday, we decided we would ride to him and met up in Firth Nebraska at 8 am to start our 54 mile journey to Beatrice and back.
Roads were in good shape, I don't think I have ridden in this exact area before so it was nice to ride some new gravel on David's route and the winds weren't horrible yet, probably in the upper teens or lower 20s at this point.
If you're ever out in Gage county around Firth, Gage Road at 68th street is in fact closed. We rode it because it seems like the states and counties solution to "fixing" bridges in the county that don't pass inspection is to close the road. Now generally these bridges are just fine for riding bicycles on but not so much for driving automobiles over, so we have kind of just got used to going around the signs to see what the damage is and assess if it's passable. This road, while still on Google Maps and Strava, is in fact no longer a road as explained to us by Farmer Roy who was less than thrilled we were on it. We were able to smooth things over however and explained that while we did ride the "road" not realizing it was no longer a road, it was not intentional to trespass. Apparently in Nebraska you can petition for a county road to be permanently closed if it hasn't been used or maintained; who determines use or maintenance is anyone's guess but that is what happened to this "road". In hindsight something other than a road closed sign would be more appropriate, not a road, private drive, etc. Road closed implies it's in fact a public road that is closed for one reason or another rather than Farmer Roy convinced the county to give/sell it to him. Thanks for that David.
I was not feeling my oats on Friday and I was off the back most of the ride, so this was my view but that's OK somedays you have it and some you don't. Overall I didn't feel bad, just didn't have any oomph in the legs and the constant head wind was not helping in that regard.
Some really good roads and scenery on the ride, great crew for the ride as well. Amazingly the two ladies on the ride were kicking butt despite having left their Pinarello Nytros at home, then again none of the ladies that ride in the group have ever had difficulty riding with us... weird.
We've had bridge beers and ditch beers, even a few troll beers but this might have been our first grave beer, although technically we never went inside the cemetery. Someone should replace embattled flag though.
Also a first was this sign that said Township Maintained Road, hadn't seen one of those before or around here, I know back east they refer to places as townships but it's unusual in the Midwest.
After a bit more gravel we arrived at our halfway point to see Joe at the family business in good ole Beat Rice but not before David got his flat for the ride. Can't take that guy anywhere, at least not to places with sharp objects.
Joe's a good guy and even offered to take our picture together, unfortunately tanker trucks don't stop for pictures; even if you are on the city council. Our feet and wheels look fantastic though!
Joe did redeem himself though by offering us all a square of the world famous Grandma's Fruitcake made right there in Beatrice, I know that there are endless jokes about fruitcake but this was actually good fruitcake.
They are a weird bunch down that way and decorate their trash cans with Christmas trees, at least I think it was a decoration and not someone throwing theirs out already.
Not even sure what this can is meant for but with that hole and those lips where they are, I'm guessing you don't want to be the second guy to make a deposit... highly suspect at best.
Since it was noon thirty, we convinced the councilman to accompany us to Playa Azul for some Mexican food before heading back to Firth.
It was even Pablo's "birthday" so he got a little ice cream treat with some help eating it even.
We were slightly behind schedule after lunch but still doing OK, except that the wind decided to come two hours earlier than forecasted. By the time we were done eating the winds had shifted so that we were heading back into them again but they had also jumped up to a steady 25-30 mph with gusts much worse than that. We abandoned the planned route in favor of the Homestead Trail which was mostly flat and provided some protection from the wind at times. It did not feel all that flat riding into the teeth of that wind.
I have always wondered if it's become cheaper to ship corn by truck than it was to ship it by rail or if the railroad just decided to abandon track which forced the elevators to switch to truck. Not sure which it is but that's a whole lotta corn sitting there and the track is now the Homestead Trail so there aren't any trains coming anytime soon.
Downtown Pickrell was bustling with the usual Friday crowds, although it was a Husker game day and they might have even been up at this point.
While the Homestead might not have been as scenic or as much fun as the gravel, it definitely helped us to get back and a decent hour. We almost duplicated our time and speed back but we halved our elevation gain on the way back, had we had to deal with hills and wind we might have lost at least a good 30 minutes which might have put us in the dark and none of us had lights.
All in all it was a great day on the bike, winds might not have been ideal but the temps were fantastic for this late in the year. Sarah and I said our goodbyes and hightailed it out of there, leaving the rest of the crew sitting in the sun enjoying a shake for the Homestead Cafe. We might have gotten the raw end of that deal.