Monday, May 24, 2021

Beware The D10




Not sure who decided it was time but someone flipped on that humidity switch on Saturday, looks like spring temps might be done for the year and summer heat is here. But we had donuts and sometimes donuts are enough, they don't help with humidity but they also don't make it worse.



Cloud cover in the morning helped to keep temps somewhat mild but the sprinkles and overall moisture level did not help with that at all. Once the thick cloud cover burned off, nothing helps as we stewed in our own juices.




The plan was to head out east to Bennet and then circle around to the north before coming back in on the MoPac with a visit to The Hut. The belt way is progressing nicely but is a bit of a PITA to get around right now, we had a little run in with a construction guy who had to jump in his truck and fly across the 200 yards of dirt to let us know we were in imminent danger of being run down by a 190,000 lbs, 15 foot tall bulldozer somewhere in the last 25 yards of road in front of us. Little buggers are sneaky too because I didn't see a single one of them anywhere near us but just to be safe he had us turn around and travel a greater distance back through the danger zone, for our own saftey and not at all because he just wanted to.




A little ways down the road we managed to find a dozer free zone and managed to continue on unmolested. After all that danger we worked up quite the thirst so naturally a ditch beer stop was in order.

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After a brief stop at Casey's for some pie and a cold drink it was on to The Hut before pushing on toward Lincoln.

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A few of us continued on for some pizza from Yia Yias and an ice cold cider from Saro before calling it a day. Despite the deary start the day ended up being pretty darn good and I might have even gotten a little sunburned for my efforts. Next weekend I think we are going to head out to Saunders county for 66 miles of gravel around the Prague, Weston, Colon area. Should be a great time with a few bigger hills thrown in to keep it interesting.


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

2021 Slothful Stallion

Photo May 15, 8 28 16 AM


Three years ago at the height of gravel races popping up all over the place and former road racers gravel-tating to those races, the tiny burb of Ohiowa decided to go another way and hatched an idea for a gravel tour instead of a gravel race. That idea became the ride with a thousand monikers or if you're speaking officially, the Lazy Horse Gravel Grind. Not a lot has changed in the format of the ride in the three years it's been around and not much really needs to change. While there were about 40 miles of new roads on the long course this year we still hit up the same small towns that we did in the previous two versions and I was quite okay with that. I'm a big fan of supporting the rural towns of Nebraska that are off the beaten path, these are true American treasures and they are dying off. You can tell that the small towns that route passes through go all out to show their appreciation for the cyclists and welcome us with opened arms.  Seeing the same volunteers year after year you start to recognize them and they start to remember you also so it's almost like an extended family reunion. What's not to love about that?
I'm not sure who is in charge of tourism in Nebraska but the fact that they are not shining a spotlight on the almost endless miles of virtually car free gravel almost borders on criminal. It wouldn't take too much effort, IMO, to meet with some of these small rural villages and string together several gravel routes that both Nebraskans and visitors could travel. The only real requirement would be to find enough villages with lodging and services available, even if that lodging was camping. Even our neighbors to the east have figured out that bicycles bring in money.  






New this year was a fully dry start. Until this we hadn't had one of those yet, the previous two years it rained the night before and left the roads a little more supple than even the #supplelife folks would like. One of the perks of the Lazy Horse is that you can make it whatever kind of ride you want. If you want to go fast, you can. If you want to go slow, take in the scenery and enjoy the time with friends you can do that too. It's like one of those choose your own adventure books that were popular in the 1800s when I was a young lad but with fewer paper cuts. With the roads being bone dry and a little dusty someone flipped that adventure book to race mode to start out and we booked it out of the gate at a blistering 16.7 mph average to the first town. That might not sound like all that quick of a pace for the seasoned gravel connoisseur but the town elders really get a kick out of the fat bikes so we try to oblige them so a pace near 17 mph is plenty fast when your pushing portly bicycles with bulbous tires. When nicely adorned for a full day of adventuring the Pugsley is equal in weight to 3+ of those nimble carbon bikes that are popular with the go fast crowd.

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Alexandria, NE was the first town we rolled into and just like previous years the burritos at the church were delicious. Also on course again this year was event photographer Andrea who always seems to be in the right place at the right time to get the great shots.


There were a fair amount of minimum maintenance roads on the course this year, something we missed out on the last two years due to the overnight rain. As fun as they are when dry nobody wants to ride down one when it's wet if they can help it. I was super stoked that everything worked out his year because they were all in fantastic shape and were a blast to ride.


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If you hadn't connected the dots just yet the ride is put on by the winery turned beer-ery(?) of the same name so there is no shortage of ice cold barley pops to help with hydration and socialization.




Gilead is a perennial favorite of the group, the pie never disappoints whether you eat it by itself or go upscale and pair it with a scoop of ice cream and a super swanky banquet beer. While small town Nebraska folk might look at you funny for photographing your food, they don't much care how you take your pie.





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Next up on the tour is Belvidere, Nebraska which has become known to us as the official home of the walking taco, some in the group will forgo food earlier in the ride to save room for the tacos served in the village park. Despite knowing that Belvidere, Nebraska and Mr. Belvedere have no connection what-so-ever I always half expect to be greeted by Christopher Hewitt donning a tie, sweater vest and English accent when we arrive at the park. It has never happened... not even once... despite my unfounded and unfettered giddiness when we roll into town. While it would be near impossible to get Christopher Hewitt since he passed in 2001, one might be able to convince Stacy (Fergie) Ferguson to make an appearance.... what, you didn't know that Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame once had a brief roll in Mr. Belvedere? Your lack of 80's sitcom trivia knowledge is disturbing.



The last stop on the Lazy Horse express is always Brunning, Nebraska and the volunteer fire station. Larry is a big hit here and they call him out by name and might have even given him a ride on the fire truck but who among us doesn't love Larry.

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Despite having all day to ride the 60ish miles, we always seem to just make it to the raffle drawing and this year was no exception. I had a gift care waiting form me from an earlier drawing but didn't take home any of the raffle swag this year. Food was good, beer was good, showers were refreshing, I got to spend all day riding with friends and I made a new fur buddy at the end... that was win enough for me.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Grandpa's Yarn



Remember when you were a kid and you had that one uncle, grandfather, great grandfather or father that liked to tell you tales about how much more difficult everything was in their day? How they had to walk to school, 10 miles each way, in 25ft of snow, with one leg in a cast? Well someday when I tell the tale of how we decided to ride 100 miles of Beatrice area gravel in 25-30 mph winds, I am going to sound just like that.


Photo May 01, 11 07 14 AM

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Winds were out of the south with a little bit of west to them as well, unfortunately the first part of the course was mostly into that wind. That didn't deter the group and they lit out at what I thought was a pretty brisk pace all things considered. I'm not usually one to just jump on the gas at the beginning and prefer to let the legs warm up and try to increase the pace once the miles left start to get closer or eclipse the miles rode. I spent a decent amount of time at the back trying to get into that groove early on trying not to burn out the legs. We made it to Steele City in about 2 and a half hours for a well earned lunch stop. This was also the point at which we mostly stopped heading straight into the wind and started our east/west section, not much easier trying to keep the bike upright in those crosswinds.


The wind turbines were earning their keep on Saturday.




Photo May 01, 6 09 10 PM

Not many pictures on this one as we had initially meant to get it done fairly quickly. While I think we still managed a decent pace a lot of matches were already burnt by the time we rounded the corner and had the benefit of the wind, mostly, so the push home wasn't as quick as I'd hoped. These things happen though and it was still a pretty decent day other than the wind, could have been worse for sure. Video has a bit more of the story and the scenery, check it out if you want.