We Wear Road iD and Wish You Would Too – Update

(25% off Road iD: https://road.id/WeBike, Code: WEBIKE25)

The following post originally appeared in our blog in July of 2020, but the importance of wearing identification while being active, especially when alone, was borne out recently by the serious bicycle crash of a good friend.

Kyle was riding his bicycle alone along a quiet rural road west of Green Bay, Wisconsin in the Town of Oneida. The last thing he remembers was riding past the Buffalo Overlook on Cooper Road. It was a nice day and the riding was great. He does not remember the crash, the ambulance ride, or three days he spent in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit!

Based on the police report and statements from two good Samaritans, Kyle either ran off the road and/or hit a pothole while going downhill causing him to crash into a bridge guardrail. There is no evidence another vehicle was involved.

Kyle was wearing a helmet but was still knocked unconscious. A passerby spotted Kyle along the side of the road and called 911. Fortunately, Kyle was wearing his Road iD which allowed First Responders to immediately access his medical information and contact his wife and son. Kyle has an underlying medical condition that elevates his risk with a head injury. His family met him at the hospital.

Kyle suffered a concussion, several brain bleeds, broken ribs, a broken collarbone requiring surgery, and, of course, plenty of road rash. He is home now and is expected to make a full recovery. This story has a good ending thanks in part to Kyle’s Road iD.

“If sharing my story helps another family, sharing it will be a good thing.” -Kyle

Ready for a Ride

It is summer during the COVID-19 global pandemic and people are walking, running, and bicycling like never before. There are many more miles being covered by people power, many of them by folks new to these activities. Whether you are out there for recreation, transportation, fitness, or your mental health, it’s all good. We are glad to see you out and about. To us, being active is an essential part of living a long and full life. But there are inherent risks and a learning curve with these activities. The trick is to balance the risks and the rewards. You should always protect yourself.

Admittedly, we are bicycle and pedestrian safety geeks. We own and operate an national pedestrian and safety consulting business (WE BIKE, etc., LLC) and have covered thousands of miles under our own power (“Coast to Coast on a Tandem”). We are well-trained bicyclists and pedestrians, follow the rules of the road, know what the leading causes of crashes are and, how to avoid them. We maintain our bicycles, safety check them before every ride, wear helmets, bright-colored clothing, and identification

Peter was a police officer, park ranger, and EMT in a former life. Helping people in emergencies was one of his favorite things to do, not because someone was scared or injured, but because he had a chance to calm their fears, ease their pain or, maybe even save a life. Sometimes this was hard to do; however, because the traumatized person was unable to communicate and did not have identification. Without a way to identify the victim, he could not quickly deal with any special needs or contact their love ones. The sooner he could reunite his patient with their family the better they would do.

Tracy was hit by a car during a bicycle ride on a quiet Sunday morning in July of 2018. She was only three miles from home and had ridden her route thousands of times. But, when a motorist failed to stop for a stop sign and did not yield the right of way, there was nothing Tracy could do. Concussion, whiplash, bruising, and a knee that would require surgery were the result. Luckily, she was wearing her Road iD and was able to hand it to the responding officer so he could contact Peter.

We are glad you are taking care of yourself by being active during these difficult times. But, in your rush to get out there, do not forget to wear identification. Many of you have thought about carrying ID, but just have not gotten around to it. We hope this 25% off coupon (Code: WEBIKE25) will encourage you, your family, and your training partners to check out Road iD and give it a try. 

We have always carried identification with us when being active. We have worn Road iD for as long as they have been available, and we partnered with them on our last two unsupported cross-country tandem bicycle trips. Road iD is easy to wear and one more way to be responsible for and protect yourself, your families, and your community.

Show us your Road iD!

Home Safe and Sound

Beatrice, Nebraska

Peter

This is just a quick note to let you all know that Tracy and I made it home safe and sound from Topeka, Kansas late last night. This was a very challenging adventure and we are eternally grateful for all of your support. We wouldn’t have made it as far as we did without you! We are happy and healthy and looking forward to getting back on our feet and then heading out again on the bike.

Let’s hang out

If you would like to hear more about our trip and challenges, or just want to hang out, we will be a Badger State Brewing Company this Friday, April 22, 2022 from 6-8 p.m. (I’d be happy to tell you what it’s like to pilot a fully-loaded tandem bicycle in a crosswind gusting over 50 mph!) There will be a food truck on site if you are hungry and beverages if you are thirsty. Hope to see you there.

The drive from Kearney, Nebraska to Topeka in the ten foot U-Haul truck with the bike and gear in back on Sunday (Easter) was a challenge in the wind (no cruise control), but we got it done. We spent Sunday night at the, almost completely empty, Hotel Topeka. This is the same hotel where we started our trip and where I presented at the Kansas Transportation Safety Conference back on the 5th. If we only knew then what we know now – We would have done it anyway. Ha!

There is always a bit of culture shock when we come back from a trip, even a short one like this. After we take a few days to recover and process the past couple of weeks, we will get back to you with more thoughts and perspective on our ride.

New podcast

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this recent Bike Life Podcast from the Warmshowers Foundation.

Ride on!

Day 11 – Historic Oregon Trail by Bicycle

April 16, 2022

Kearney to Kearney, Nebraska

Miles/total: 6/354

Weather: 28-57 degrees, Wind NNE 13 mph

Tracy

We spent the day exploring Kearney by bike and on foot. We started by riding the BIke/Hike trail out to the University of Nebraska, Kearney. The trail is an amazing facility for walkers, runners and bicyclists. It allows alternative forms of transportation to travel on a beautiful multi-use path from southeast of the city to the northwest. The trail pretty much follows the Platte River and then its tributaries through the city.

We also spent time in old downtown Kearney, which has lots of little shops, restaurants, and of course, breweries. We had a beer and lunch at Thunderhead Brewery. The beer and lunch were very good. After lunch we checked out the downtown shops and then stopped for another beer at Platt Valley Brewery. I definitely enjoyed their Peanut Butter Stout. Peter liked the Scotch Ale.

We bicycled a bit of the Lincoln Highway today too. It was the first paved coast to coast roadway in the United States – even before Route 66. It ran from New York to San Francisco. From Kearney it heads west towards Cheyenne, Wyoming.

As you have probably figured out, this trip has been a tough one for us, mainly due to the extreme weather conditions. Physically and mentally, Peter and I have been doing really well. Road conditions have been good and Kansas and Nebraska drivers have been amazingly considerate. Unfortunately, the nasty head and cross winds have been taking their toll. We have only traveled 350 miles in ten days, and feel like we have been off the bike more than on. (Normally we would have ridden 540-675 miles in the same amount of time, with only one day off the bike.) Ouch!

After lots of conversation, checking our route, and weather predictions for the next 7-10 days, we have decided to end the trip early. We have been thinking about this for several days, and even checked into renting a U-Haul van/truck in Hastings. None were available. It appears they don’t do one way rentals because the trucks are hard to get these days. So, with no other options, we decide to continue 60 more miles west to Kearney. We thought this would give us time to think more about ending the trip and check the weather, a few more times. Kearney had a few more U-Haul providers and we thought we would have a better chance to find a vehicle to rent to head back to Topeka if needed. Unfortunately, we had to wait two more days in Hastings for the weather to change (wind to shift) so we could possibly/safely make it to Kearney. (The windchill was 16 degrees when we left Hastings, yesterday.)

We were able to locate a ten foot U—Haul truck this morning and picked it up, by bicycle, early this afternoon. We will pack up the rest of our supplies and head back to Topeka, Kansas tomorrow, Easter morning. Although we are disappointed to end our journey early, we feel this is a good choice. We are proud that we were able to ride in some really challenging winds and temperatures. I am also excited we were able to pick off one more state – Nevada. Colorado and Wyoming will have to wait for another day!!

We greatly appreciated all the comments and support we have received on this trip. Your support was so motivating and truly kept us moving. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Monday and Tuesday we will be driving back to Wisconsin. We look forward to seeing some of you again soon.

Day 10 – Historic Oregon Trail by Bicycle

April 15, 2022

Hastings to Kearney, Nebraska

Miles/total: 58/348

Weather: 28-48 degrees, Wind NNE 12-19 mph (cross/tailwind)

Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.

Peter

Today we really wanted to ride, but we knew it would be a challenge. When we woke up the temperature was 28 degrees, there was a 12 mph cross/tailwind, and the windchill was 11 degrees. Seriously! Not willing to try the 11 degree windchill with the clothes we have with us, we decided to wait until 8:30 a.m. to leave when the windchill would be 16 degrees. Ha!

After breakfast at the hotel, we loaded the bike and then got dressed. I put on two pairs of sox, covered with plastic bags, biking shorts, tights, pants, a thermal t-shirt, long-sleeved turtleneck zip-t, fleece jacket, wind shell, headband, helmet, and winter gloves. I wasn’t comfortable, but I was warm. Tracy had on one more layer as she tends to get colder than I do.

We weren’t sure we would be warm enough, but we thought we could give it a try.

Our first goal, and our bail out point, was the small town of Juanita, eight miles west of Hastings. By the time we got there we were a little cold, but not too bad. Our real challenge wasn’t riding, but staying warm, if we had to stop mid-ride for some reason, likely to change a flat. After a warm cup of coffee in a gas station, we decided it was reasonable to try and make it to the small city of Minden, 26 miles away.

The wind was our friend today. The prediction was for a NE wind early at 12 mph, building to 19 mph by late morning, then shifting to the NNE and dropping to 15 mph in the early afternoon. When the temperatures are so low, these small shifts in the wind make a big difference, mostly in how long it takes to get from one safe point to another. From Hastings to Juanita we had a cross/tailwind and were able to average about 15 mph. Manageable. From Juanita to Minden we would head due west for about 16 miles (cross/tailwind again) and then we would turn southwest. If the wind persisted from the NE, we would fly into Minden. But, If the wind shifted to the NNE too early, our progress would be significantly slowed and we would be stuck in the cold way longer than we would like. Luckily, the wind held and we made it to Minden and a Casey’s gas station with hot coffee and donuts by 10:30. It’s always nice when a plan works out.

On the way to Minden we stopped at two historical markers, one for the Pony Express, and another for the Oregon Trail. In the cold and the wind, it was much easier to imagine the hardship these pioneers, my pioneers, had to endure.

Our next challenge was a ten-mile slog, straight into a 15 mph wind, to the north and Fort Kearney State Historical Park. It wasn’t fun, but we got it done.

Just before we reached the park we came across a field with maybe 1,000 Sandhill Cranes in it feeding and flying above. Neither one of us has ever seen that many cranes in one place at one time. It was wonderful. These birds are undoubtably stranglers from the annual migration that sees from 500,000 to 1,000,000 cranes in a 75 mile stretch of the Platt River, just a mile or so north of where we were.

Fort Kearney is still closed, but we were able to walk around the grounds anyway. So much important history here, particularly to me.

From the park we headed back east and then north to the Kearny Recreation Area where we picked up the Fort Kearney Hike-Bike Trail (12ft wide concrete) which took us 1.8 niles north, across the Platt River and Under I-80. Once we were north of the interstate we followed the trail another 2.5 miles to the famous Archway over I-80, and then three more miles to the Kearney business district.

We stopped at a Starbucks to refuel and figure out where we were going to stay for the night. We ended up at a Fairfield Inn in a cluster of hotels near the interstate. Not exactly the camping we were hoping for, but we were warm, out of the wind and safe for the night. We did it, we made it to Kearney, Nebraska. Not sure what the plan is for tomorrow, we will come up with one in the morning. It has been a heck of a day.

1862

-Kearney, Nebraska

“From there (Marysville) we traveled up the Platte River to Fort Kearney or “Dobe Town” as we called it. All of the houses were made of adobe. This place could provide us with some much-needed food and feed for our stock. We needed to haul some because we would hit places of scarce grass.”

“My Life in the Walla Walla Valley” (1978)

 By Cecil S.G. Cummings

“No bridge on the Big Blue so we had some trouble to get across, but finally without much trouble by doubling up teams we made it in half a forenoon. So we traveled up the Big Blue, for one day on more fine roads and no trouble, only the grade was short. We traveled on the main California road along for about 15 days until we arrived at Fort Kearney, or what we called Dobey Town where were garrisoned a few soldiers, and quite a town of settlers and several good stores where we could get goods cheap. Though we were only 300 miles from the Missouri River we had a fine campground on the bottom land of the Big Plat (Platte) River where no bridge was – only a mail wagon built on purpose to carry the Government mail and soldiers. It was a sight to see it cross the river. Oh, if they had only had a gasoline engine for it, it would have been something. Also, we had a man over take us there, and he wanted to travel with us for protection and he had a distance measurer so could tell how far we went a day and that was fine.”

Gid Cummings’ (and family) Trip Across the Plains in 1862

(Copied from a journal of Gideon Cummings)

-West of Kearney on the Platte River (Deer Creek)

Soon after leaving fort Kearney and reaching the Platte River, we were overtaken by a dispatch courier with information that some of our friends were trying to catch up with us so we laid over at Deer Creek for a week waiting for them. Here we had a very good camp; plenty of driftwood to burn and good grass for our horses.

When our friends caught up with us, our party was increased by four men, three women and two boys. We thought we had a much stronger party by this addition.

One of the wagons had an instrument attached on a front wheel that would register our mileage each day. We all liked that fact and it was good to know how far we had traveled.

We followed the Platt River to Fort Lawrence where we remained for two weeks, awaiting the arrival of a large train. It was safer to have a big train as we were getting into more danger each day that we traveled.

On May 20th, we started the big travel on west. There were sixty-five men, eight women and one girl aged twelve, who was George Dudley Goodwin’s daughter, Lottie. At Deer Creek there was a telegraph station and we received the first word of the Civil War.

The news was bad as the Federals were being pushed back at the time. We continued our journey along lodge Pole Creek, Plum Creek and the Black Hills. In many places, the road was worn deep into the ground. There was no way to turn out making it hazardous for the wagon training case of an attack by Indians. The entire train could be lost. We escaped harm then, and many times later in bad places.

“My Life in the Walla Walla Valley” (1978)

 By Cecil S.G. Cummings

-Julesburg, Colorado

“Though we passed most all of the trouble that year by with but a little trouble, no loss of life and as we came along the great Platt(e) River with no timber and plenty of grass and any amount of buffalo chips to burn. We used sacks to sack them up and hauled them along to keep them from getting wet when it rained, and it did sometimes. I tell you we came along fairly well until we got to Fort Laramie at the mouth of the Laramie Forks. The Commander stopped us saying the Indians are bad and our government has no soldiers to spare to guard us so we will have to stay until enough catches up with us so we can take care of ourselves. They gave us all the room we wanted there. There was only five or six families at that time. We stayed two weeks and by that time Captain Penny arrived with about 50 men and no women in it. At that time through there were some families came while we were there so we started on up the South Plat(te) River and went as far as where Julesberg (Julesburg, Colorado) now stands and we forded the Plat(te) there though it was dangerous.”

Gid Cummings’ (and family) Trip Across the Plains in 1862

(Copied from a journal of Gideon Cummings)

Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, Black Hills, Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, South pass through the Rocky Mountains, Green River (left the California party). Sept 27 nine mile crossing of the Walla Walla River.

Day 9 – Historic Oregon Trail

Hastings, Nebraska

Miles/Total: 21(local miles)/290

Weather: 26-50 degrees, 17-20 mph WNW winds, wind chills in the teens early

Tracy

We spent the day exploring Hastings. After a delicious hotel breakfast we bundled up to ride over to the Hastings Museum. We very much enjoyed the museum which included: a native animal exhibit, amazing bird exhibit, wetlands area, car and bicycle section (Peter loved this section the best), gun and military weapons exhibit, and of course, the Kool-Aid exhibit. (I enjoyed the bird and Kool-Aid exhibits the best).

I bet you do not know that Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska, and it was originally called Kool-Ade. But, when the FDA was formed the term Ade could only be used for a food product that had actual fruit in it, Kool-Ade did not, so they had to change the name. (There you go fun fact for the day!!)

Lunch was next at a small food court/gas station type place – choice of Chinese or greek food. We opted for Chinese. As we were heading into the place we noticed a bunch of K-9 police cars in the parking lot, there were at least 8 of them. We had noticed a large police presence at a residence down the street from the museum early in the day. The police officers were having lunch after what appeared to have been a training exercise (there were officers from several departments). Nice guys – we felt very safe!

Our next stop was the Bigfoot Museum. It was located on the outskirts of town attached to a home. It looked a bit sketchy. There was no one around and the museum door was locked. As we took a peak in the back yard, a lady came out and said they were closed. We apologized and told her the website said they were open. She then asked where we were from and said go ahead and walk the trail and then stop in the museum, I will open it up.

The museum was nice and the woman who operated it claimed to have seen Bigfoot and his family members several times. She even played a recording that is suppose to be of Bigfoot talking. Not so sure about the whole thing but the woman was a true believer and definitely an expert!

Biked back to the hotel against the wind, sometimes I swear it feels like we are going backwards!! Tonight we will get organized to head out tomorrow morning to Kearney, NE, about 58 miles west. The wind is suppose to turn to the ENE so we should get a nice push, at least part of the time. It will still be cold but at least we will not have the wind right in our face and a nasty wind chill to deal with. Looking forward to getting on the bicycle again, it feels like we have been taking more days off them actually bicycling on this trip.

The weather is suppose to be good for a couple of days starting tomorrow and then get nasty again. Pretty soon we will have to decide when we will have to start heading back. Our timeline is shot!

Peter

Side note: Water bottle cages. Before the trip started, we bought five new Specialized plastic water bottle cages that match our bike perfectly. I had never used plastic cages before, but thought I would give them a try. On a training ride one broke while I was inserting a bottle. No problem, it happens. Returned/replaced the cage at the shop where I got it and we were good to go. Fast forward to the first day of this trip, broke another one. It was still useable, but broken. Yesterday, a third cage broke, and this one was unusable. Not happy! Fortunately, Tracy had the bright idea to walk next door to our hotel to the Walmart Super Center to see is they had any cages. They did! This morning I replaced our two broken cages ($25 each) with Walmart cages ($6 each) and we are good to go again. Live and learn!

Day 8 – Historic Oregon Trail

Hastings, Nebraska

Miles/total: 0/269

Weather: 26-50 degrees, sunny, 19-25 mph NW winds, wind chills in the teens early

Peter

As predicted, the winds and the temperatures were brutal again this morning, and really all day. With no other good options for today, and really for tomorrow, we finally accepted our fate and decided to stay put and improve our situation as best we could. What that meant in this case was to flee our discount hotel, where we thought we would only be spending one night, find something better, and then get to know Hastings, Nebraska a bit better.

We had a quick lunch in our hotel room then packed up the bike, put on all of our warm clothes, and headed north on a very nice new trail that took us 1.9 miles to an area with a Hampton Inn and a Holiday Inn Express. While Tracy checked the rates at each hotel, I tried to hold the bike upright in the wind and not freeze. The Holiday Inn Express was the winner.

Our only issue with our new hotel is the location. These days it seems as though most of the hotels are on the outskirts of cities with high-speed traffic and the fast food restaurants. Not exactly what we are looking for on a bicycle tour. To us, the cool stuff in cities is in the old downtown areas. They are usually easy to bike and walk, have lots of interesting architecture, and, if the city is healthy, cool one-off shops to explore, and micro breweries. As best we could tell from Google Maps, the cool stuff was about 5 miles south of us.

Once we were settled in our new hotel, we took the panniers off the tandem and headed back south on the trail to the old downtown. Wow did the bike feel weird to ride minus 60 pounds of gear. I’m not really sure if the bike was any easier to handle in the wind though.

Old downtown was in fact cool. At about four blocks by four blocks square, it was easy to navigate by bike, and walk, once we figured out the one-way streets. There are a number of large old office buildings, warehouses, an Amtrak station, the ”Birth Place of Kool-Aid,” many small shops, and even two micro breweries. We found a cookie shop for a snack and then stopped by First Street Brewery for a pint.

When we arrived at the brewery there was a news truck outside. As luck would have it, one of the candidates for governor was being interviewed and holding a small gathering. We fit right in with our florescent yellow/green jackets and bicycle helmets. A couple in their fifties own the brewery and have had it for five years. We struck up a conversation and, of course, talked about the weather. Apparently, the weather we are experiencing IS EXCEPTIONAL – It’s not just us! Good to know.

We are now back at the hotel and checking the weather for tomorrow for the millionth time. Still no improvement! At 8:00 a.m. it will be 29 degrees with a west wind at 13 mph, and a windchill of 18. Eventually the temperature will rise to 55 degrees, but the wind will build to 22 mph – all headwind. So, it looks like we will be stuck here again tomorrow. At least there’s still a museum and another brewery to explore.

There is some hope. On Friday the wind is predicted to drop into the low teens and shift to a cross/tailwind. It will still be cool, but we should be able to get back on the bike and make it to Kearney, NE. Here’s to hoping.

Day 7 – Historic Oregon Trail by Bicycle

April 12, 2022

Geneva to Hastings, Nebraska

Miles/total: 47/269

Weather: 42-86 degrees, cloudy, light rain early, (SSE) cross/tailwind early 15-20 mph, (SW) cross/head wind later 20-25 mph

Tracy

We got up at 5:45 a.m. so we could try to take advantage of the cross/tailwind, hoping we could get as much advantage from it as possible. After breakfast at the Sister’s Cafe we started our ride as soon as it was light. We would be traveling mainly west and the wind was going to be SSE early, we lucked out and the first 24 miles to Clay Center were not too bad because the wind had some east to it – yeah. Our average speed was 17 mph.

Breakfast at Sisters Cafe – Geneva, NE

The first 4 miles out of Clay Center we were traveling North with a strong SSE wind pushing us along. All to soon we had to turn west with a strong cross wind. We were riding on Hwy 6 which had a nice big shoulder and lots of room for all users. Unfortunately, between the wind and trucks it was a challenge to keep the bike upright and our average speed declined significantly to 15 mph. The temperature also rose to 80 degrees, so off came all of our layers, the back of the bicycle looks like we are drying our laundry.

We arrived in Hasting at 11:30 a.m. and headed north to our hotel for the night. The route took us near Hastings College a beautiful campus located in the middle of town. The city has created a multi-use path that allows users to travel from campus out to the hotel/motel area north of town. It dropped us off right at the hotel.

Dinner was a short walk up the path to a local sports bar – good food and beer. Our waitress was a lot of fun, obviously likes what she is doing and is good at it.

Tomorrow the weather will once again be nasty – headwind (NW) at 22 mph, temperature 29 degrees, windchill 16 – burr. We may have to take another day off. Between the headwind and temperatures not sure it is safe to be out there. We will keep you posted.

Day 6 – Historic Oregon Trail by Bicycle

April 11, 2022

Wilber to Geneva, Nebraska

Miles/total: 39/222

Weather: Partly sunny, 40-65 degrees, calm winds

Tracy

Last night we made a basic dinner at the Hotel Wilber, patched tubes and watched TV. One of the unique features of this hotel was that at the end of the evening the operators handed us the keys and left for the night. We had the whole place to ourselves with permission to explore.

This morning we had an amazing breakfast served with smiles by Brandi and her sons (4 and 11). We were surprised to see Brandi this morning because her business partner, Austin (the amazing cook) was suppose to be here. But, due to unforeseen circumstances a change of plan was required and lucky for us Brandi was able to come in, fix breakfast, and still get her boys to school. That is dedication and was greatly appreciated. Thanks Brandi and Austin for a wonderful stay!

We hit the road a bit later today (9:15) because we did not have far to travel and the weather was beautiful, little or no wind and relatively warm. Wilber is a cute little town and we took a few more pictures on our way out.

We probably would have gone farther today – Hastings (80 miles away), but I had the Village of Ashwaubenon Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee meeting to attend virtually at 3:30 p.m. We were not so sure we could complete the 80 miles in time for the meeting. So Geneva fit the distance requirement and had a hotel with Wi-Fi.

The ride today was a pleasure for several reasons: no wind, warm temperatures, and great roads. We have been traveling primarily on state highways (really the only paved roads in the state). The roads normally do not have paved shoulders but the motor vehicles drivers are amazing. They either pass us in the oncoming lane or wait until it is safe to do so, giving us plenty of room. The drivers in the oncoming lanes also typically move far right when they pass to give us as much room as possible. (We experienced this in Kansas also.) The other thing we have enjoyed is that 90% of the oncoming drivers wave and give us a smile.

About lunch time, we took a break at a Sinclair gas station. It was us and all the wind turbine workers. We arrived in Geneva about 1:00 p.m. and bicycled through the downtown business district looking for lunch. They must have recently reconstructed the main drag. It was well done with sidewalks on both sides of the street, well marked crosswalks, ornamental lights, and street trees. The place was busy with many people moving around. I popped into a coffee shop, but unfortunately they did not serve lunch, only snack items. The employee suggested we go to lunch at Sister’s Cafe but warned me it was “very rustic,” but the food was good. The Sister’s Cafe was right next door to our hotel – The Geneva Inn.

We enjoyed lunch at Sister’s Cafe. Not only was the place rustic, but so were the two ladies running it. At first, one of the ladies seemed pissed that we did not know what we wanted to eat as soon as we walked in the door. We eventually won her over and they have now agreed to feed us breakfast in the morning. One of them even told me she would make sure I got her special Earl Gray Tea for breakfast – now I am really excited to go back. They open at 6:00 a.m.

We got to the hotel, showered, and I attended my meeting, while Peter slept. Dinner next and then we’ll get ready to take off early tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for another strong crosswind, building throughout the day. Wish us luck!

Day 5 – Historic Oregon Trail by Bicycle

April 10, 2022

Beatrice to Wilber, Nebraska

Miles/total: 25/183

Weather: Sunny, 53-65 degrees, NW wind 10-20 mph (crosswind)

Peter

Yesterday was a long one, and it got even longer after Tracy’s blog left off.

About a mile from our hotel, Tracy thought our rear tire was getting soft, so we pulled off the road to check it out. It was! Really, three flats in one day. That was a record for us. The leak seemed slow, so I pumped the tire back up and off we went, hoping this was a good plan. Fortunately, we made it to the hotel with no problems. Unfortunately, the deck clerk, who had only worked there for a month, sent us to three different rooms before he found one with an outside entrance we could get the bike into, without disassembling it.

Finally at our hotel and in our room, we ate a high protein snack, showered, and set to our daily tasks. I ordered in pizza, started charging our electronics, and doing laundry, while Tracy wrote our daily blog. When we were done with dinner, the blog, and laundry, we packed our bags, checked our route for the next day, and called it a night. We still needed to wipe down the bike that was covered with limestone dust from riding the trails yesterday, and change the back tire, but that would have to wait until the morning. While it was nice to finally get in some big miles (101), by 10 p.m., we were shot!

This morning we were up at 6:30, because we had a tight timeline. Normally, with only 25 miles to ride to Wilber, we would have slept until noon and then putzed our way through the ride. But, I still had a tire to change, we wanted to stop at Homestead National Historic Park, we had a 20 mph headwind to contend with, and the restaurant at the historic hotel where we were spending the night closed at 2:00 p.m. The other options for food in Wilber, Nebraska (Pop. 1,796) on a Sunday night were pretty limited.

Homestead National Historic Park was very nice and did an excellent job of describing how the Homestead Act of 1862 changed the face of the country.

From the park, we “only” had 20 miles to ride to Wilber where we were spending the night. We had originally planned to ride to Geneva today, 60 miles away, but after spending 6.5 hours in the saddle yesterday, getting in late, needing to make a.m. repairs, and now with the headwinds, we were glad we opted to ride short today. We would have preferred to go farther, but there is literally no where to stay between Wilber and Geneva. We made the right call.

Once again, the headwind was brutal! Despite our best effort, we could only average 10 mph into the crosswind, and the effort of balancing the bike nearly exhausted us both. Our strategy for dealing with the wind was to bike for 30 minutes, take a short break, and then hit it again. One good thing about traveling so slowly is we are able to see more including some minions hanging out in someone’s yard.

We arrived at the Historic Hotel Wilber (1895) at 1:00 p.m. and immediately went to lunch. After getting out of the wind, having something to drink, and eat, and a shower, we were all good. We took a walk around town to see the sites (30 minutes about did it), and then headed back to the hotel for a much-needed nap. When we woke up, Tracy made dinner from stuff we had scrounged from the little grocery store in town and I went to work editing pictures we took during the day for this blog.

I still have three inner tubes to patch before we call it a night, but other than that all is well. Looking forward to breakfast in the morning and a much lighter (7 mph) crosswind tomorrow. maybe we can even average 15 mph.

Day 4 – Historic Oregon Trail by Bicycle

Another state and an epic ride of over 100 miles

April 9, 2022

Manhattan, Kansas to Beatrice, Nebraska

Miles/total: 101/158

Weather: Sunny, 26-65 degrees, wind SSE 0-15 mph (tailwind)

Tracy

We were excited to get back on the bicycle today and knew we would have a nice tailwind. We were on the road by 8:00 a.m. heading to what we planned to be the ending point – Marysville (59 miles). With the tailwind we were cruising along at an average speed of 15mph and got to Marysville by 1:00pm. We stopped at the City Park/Campground to check out the black squirrel statue (Marysville has 40 plus black squirrel statues throughout the town, evidently they have a healthy population of black squirrels living in the area) and our home for the night.

A big section of the park including the campground was closed off with yellow police- “do not cross tape.” There were families everywhere, with kids carrying bags and baskets, what is going on?

Peter and I started to laugh when we noticed multicolored Easter eggs everywhere, including all the tent camping spots. We headed to town for lunch at a local coffee shop and a visit to The Original Pony Express Home Station. We also got to see a few more squirrel statues. Over lunch we decided that since it was only 2:00 p.m. we probably could make it to Beatrice, Nebraska another 36 miles. We had 60 miles in already.

End of Blue River Trail- start of Chief Standing Bear Trail

We were excited to bicycle on the The Blue River Trail and Chief Standing Bear Trail from Marysville along the Big Blue River. These trails would drop us right into Beatrice. The trails were crushed gravel, which can be difficult to ride a fully loaded tandem on, and these trails proved to be tough ones. After 14 miles on The Big Blue River Trail we entered Nebraska and The Chief Standing Bear Trail. We stopped to take a picture, then continued. One hundred feet into Nebraska we had a front flat. As Peter was getting the tire fixed, I was checking the rear tire and noticed the same kind of thorn that caused the front flat in the rear – I pulled it out. Now we have two flats! As we were fixing the flats two older gentlemen came past pushing their bikes, one had a rear flat and said it was his third (from the same type of thorn) and they did not have the supplies to fix it again. They wished us luck and said their truck was down the trail about three miles and they would be happy to load our bike up also if we needed them to. We told them we were good and they continued on their way.

We got the tires fixed and all the bags back on the bicycle in record time and continued on our way – but we were paranoid we would hit another thorn and end up with a third flat. We caught up with the two gentlemen with the flat, they were glad to see us up and moving again. I asked them if there was a way to get off the trail and back on the road to Beatrice. There was – yeah. Two miles down the trail we took Hwy 8 back to Hwy 77 and cruised into Beatrice. No more flats.

During our ride today we passed a spot where the Oregon Trail crossed the Hwy. It was marked with a sign and silhouettes of a wagon, oxen, and horses. Unfortunately, we were going so fast down hill we could not stop for a picture.

We are spending the night at the Victorian Inn, right along Hwy 77. Ha-ha!

1862 Marysville, Kansas

“Our next stop was Marysville and we loaded in what we could buy and haul. This was the last place we could buy supplies. The rest of the way we would have to live off the land. We bought corn for 15 (cents) per bushel-all sacked. Starting our journey through a land without any inhabitants was a big undertaking. We had to post guards every night and we were fortunate to have good grass and water. There was also plenty of small game. From here on, we traveled through a country inhabited by Indians.”

My Life in the Walla Walla Valley 1978

By Cecil S.G. Cummings

“The 5th Camp we made across the little stream running into the Big Blue at Marysville. We bought what we could haul of shelled corn at 15 cents a sack at a store and other things we wanted and asked for (was) a comfy place to sleep. The merchant told us to go over the little stream and watch our horses as there were plenty of thieves around there. We had a fine campground and plenty of wood for good fires, and we sat up late, as we had an old man by name of G.O. Goodwin and his Missouri fiddle with us. Of course, we sat up by the log fire late, and he had his three horses tied not far from the camp with a bell on one. All at once we heard the bell drop to the ground, so he put down his fiddle and out through the brush after his horses, and one was white so we caught up with them. All the ropes were strung out before them, so the white Indians must have heard us coming and dropped all the ropes on ahead of the horses. We herded all up close to camp and along in the night we heard them hollering to get across the creek. That was all the trouble that night or for a long time.”

Gid Cummings (and family) Trip Across the Plains in 1862