Chapter 2 and Marketing

This week we wrote deep into Chapter 2 and kicked our pre-release marketing up a notch.

Chapter 2 – State of Illinois

It has been fun to reminisce about bicycling around the City of Chicago, playing tourist, and finding the official starting point of Historic Route 66. However, we did shudder a bit while recalling riding a trail detour that took us right through the second story of a parking garage. No, really! It was dark in there. South of Chicago we rode some wonderful trails, but then experienced our first major mechanical issue and were delayed for two and a half days in Joliet. Back on the road we joined our first real stretches of Route 66. This is where the classis Route 66 tourist attractions truly begin, interspersed with the area’s natural beauty. Tallgrass prairies, national cemeteries, Muffler Men, and 1950s diners have all been on the menu. We cannot wait to write about what comes next.

Tracy will be out of town much of next week visiting her parents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin so Peter will be flying solo on the book writing. Since we usually write as a team, we are rereading our blogs and Facebook posts for the next several days of the trip so we can decide who will write which sections, do research, and tell which stories. While Tracy is gone, Peter will write his sections and lightly edit Tracy’s which should help her catch up more quickly when she gets home. Go team Flucke!

Marketing

We began distributing pre-release book flyers to our local and national partners this week. Previously, we have been posting on social media (@peterFlucke, @tracyflucke, @webiketc, @coasttocoastonatandem) and blogging. Posts have focused on the new book and Historic Route 66 fun facts. The flyer features cover photos of our 2017 book, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem,” and our current project, “Bicycling Historic Route 66,” along with information about both books and relevant links.

If you would like a flyer to display, please send us an email at peter@webike.org or tracy@webike.org. We would be happy to send you a digital and/or hardcopies.

Guest Blog

Next week we will be providing a book update and featuring a guest blog from our friend Steve Horrell. Steve is a former reporter for the Edwardsville, Illinois Intelligencer who interviewed us while we were bicycling Historic Route 66. His interview resulted in several stories, a Skype interview with his journalism class, and a lasting friendship. You will love his writing.

Camps, motor courts, and motels

Motorists along Route 66 during the 1920s usually carried the essentials with them and often simply set up camp on a rural roadside. Eventually, tourist camps began to spring up along the highway. At first, these campsites and cabins, offered for 25¢ and 50¢ apiece, were unfurnished; the tourist camps offered few amenities. As amenities such as communal toilets began to appear, travelers began to demand them. The camps gave way to motor courts that consisted of a row of cabins, then motor hotels, long buildings with individual rooms side by side and parking in front of them—the name for which was in time shortened to simply “motel”.

Source: https://kids.kiddle.co/U.S._Route_66_in_Illinois

The Book Writing Process

Peter

The thought of both long-distance bicycling and book writing can be overwhelming if considered in their entireties. We never could have gotten our heads around bicycling 4,362 miles in 72 days or spending an entire year writing a book about the ride (“Coast to Coast on a Tandem”). For us, the key to both is breaking them down into manageable, bite sized, pieces. On the bike we measure our progress by states, days, hours, miles, or even individual pedal strokes. As for book writing, our progress is measured in books written, books sold, chapters, days, hours, paragraphs, sentences, or even individual words. The more difficult the task, be it big miles, headwinds, mountains, rain, extreme temperatures, writer’s block, or writing fatigue, the smaller the increment. As long as we keep moving forward, we will reach our goal. I always tell Tracy, “The one thing you cannot do in a burning building, and that is NOTHING!”  

Tracy

We sent Chapter 1 – State of Wisconsin of our next book, “Bicycling Historic Route 66,” to our editor early this week. Yeah! His preliminary comment was “It looks good at first glance.” Let’s hope it still does at second and third glance. The rest of the week we have been working on Chapter 2 – State of Illinois which begins with us bicycling to Chicago and the official start of Historic Route 66.

Typically, we work on the book every day and our process is starting to take shape. First, we both reread my blog post and Peter’s Facebook post(s) for the day, or two, we are working on. Sometimes we find tidbits in “Day 2” that really belong in “Day 1.” Next, we have a team meeting to talk through the day(s), reviewing each of our narratives, discussing who captured what details and feelings best, and then we decide who will write what. It has been working well and we are cruising right along. 

Peter

We also reviewed our photos and Facebook comments pertinent to Chapter 1. The worthy Facebook comments get added to the end of each appropriate day and the photos go into Drop Box folder. Mr. Editor Guy will review them both and make final cuts. On this trip we had a lot more engagement on Facebook than previous trips, so there are many more comments to review.

Navigating on our bicycle trip was done using the Adventure Cycling Association maps and Bob Robinson’s book, “Bicycling Guide to Route 66.” This week we spent some time reviewing both. The maps include field notes (historical and natural features of the area), points of Interest, service directory, topographical, and weather information. Bob’s book has lots of historical information and points of interest. Some we saw and some we didn’t.

We reconnected with our friend Steve Horrell this week as well. Steve is a former reporter for the Edwardsville, Illinois Intelligencer and has done several stories about us, foremost our Route 66 trip. We have stayed in contact with Steve over the years, and he has agreed to write a guest blog for us about our meeting along Route 66, his stories, and our work with his journalism class. Watch for Steve’s blog in the near future. You will love his writing style. Steve also put us in contact with Cheryl Eichar Jett, Author-Historian-Playwright, Founder and President of Route 66 Miles of Possibility. Cheryl is helping us to better understand and explain why Route 66 is so iconic to Americans, as well as people from other countries. Her list of suggested resources should be invaluable.

Tracy       

We continue to work on our marketing materials with our publisher. We recently received a draft pre-release flyer we will use to promote both of our books. It looks great. We sent our suggestions/changes to the publisher late this week and hopefully it will be final soon so we can share it. The flyer will go to our partners and local businesses as well as the Northwest Tandem Rally in Sequim, Washington in May. The promo piece, along with branded bookmarks, will go into swag bags for the 200 tandem teams participating. Definitely our target audience. 

Peter  

It has been grey and cold here in Green Bay, Wisconsin all week, and we both have been fighting a flu/cold bug and generally feeling under the weather. Luckily, our heads are still working – at least pretty well – and we continue to make good progress on the book. We are thoroughly enjoying the book writing process so far. It is fun to get giddy about writing your own book.

Not all of Route 66 was paved back in the 1920s and 1930s. The worst section in Texas was known as the muddy Jericho Gap and ran approximately 16 miles from 6 miles west of Alanreed to Groom. If the dirt road surface was dry, it was dusty, but otherwise drivable. However, when it rained this unpaved section of the route turned to a sticky clay mud known as “Black Gumbo.” Locals used chains to navigate the muck, but hapless tourists often got hopelessly stuck. Farmers used horse teams to dislodge the cars. This proved to be a good source of revenue for the farmers.

Our Book Writing Journey Continues

Hard at it – with Supervisor Nevada

Peter

For us, writing a book is much like riding a fully loaded tandem up and over a mountain. We start very slowly, it feels like we have bricks in our panniers, but soon enough we hit our rhythm, gain the top, and become unstoppable cruising down the back side.

By mid-October of 2022 we had finished negotiating an agreement with our publisher/editor for our second book. Now it is time to really get started.

Tracy

You do not just dive right into writing a book, there is a lot of preliminary work to be done: 

  1. Reread our first book, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem.”
  2. Locate original Historic Route 66 trip blogs, Facebook posts, and pictures. (Thank goodness they were all still there.)
  3. Organize files
  4. Draft marketing plan (Books do not sell themselves.)
  5. Create book outline
  6. Outline Preface and Introduction
  7. Research and collect historical information about Route 66 and its attractions
  8. Meet with publisher/editor to discuss miscellaneous items: preface/introduction, title of book, how to incorporate more Facebook posts, themes, etc.
  9. Create a master document containing all trip blogs, Facebook posts, and comments by date
  10. Try to remember how to write a book in two voices, and get back in the grove

Just like riding the tandem, it is a dance.

Last week our publisher/editor surprised us with a draft of our book cover, and we loved it! We had discussed the cover briefly a couple of weeks ago, but we never expected to see it until much later in the book writing process. We’ll take it!

The first drafts of Days 1 (Ashwaubenon, WI – Mishicot) and 2 (Mishicot – Cedarburg) are done, and Days 3 (Cedarburg – Racine) and 4 (Racine – Chicago, IL) are not far behind. We have made it through Wisconsin (Chapter 1) and will soon be at the official starting point of Historic Route 66 in downtown Chicago, Illinois. The draft of Chapter 1 will go to our editor next week – yeah!  

Peter

Life doesn’t stop, at least for us, when we decided to write a book. When we wrote “Coast to Coast on a Tandem” (2017) we were both still working our business WE BIKE, etc., LLC full time and were quickly heading for our busiest and best years ever. For “Bicycling Historic Route 66” we are now semiretired but have filled our time with other things. Along with working out most days, and volunteering on several committees, I am currently serving as an expert witness for bicycle crash cases in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, and they have all gone active at the same time. Tracy takes regular fitness classes, plays on a volleyball team, belongs to two book clubs, serves as an elected official for the Village of Ashwaubenon, Chairs the Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee and volunteers on several committees.    

Next up are making first cuts of pictures and Facebook posts for Chapter one and sending them to “Mr. Editor Guy.” (Yes, some of you are going to be in the book!)

Historic Route 66 was 2,448 miles long when it became part of the U.S. highway system in 1926.

The route travels through eight States: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Kansas has the shortest segment at only 13 miles long.

New Mexico has the longest section covering 392 miles.

The book will be available later this year.

Our Book Writing Journey Begins Again

(Available later this year)

Peter

We never intended to write a book, now we have the draft cover for our second! What do you think?

Our only goal when we rode our tandem bicycle unsupported across the USA for the first time was to see if we could do it, certainly not to write a book. While bicycling 4,362 miles from Washington state to Maine in 72 days was no joke, we did it, and we were hooked. The following year we rode the length of the Mississippi River, and the next Historic Route 66 (Green Bay, WI – Chicago, IL – Santa Monica, CA). We were on a roll, but still with no thought of writing a book.

During all of our trips we have posted to social media and blogged daily. Our only reason for doing this initially was to keep our family and friends up to date on our whereabouts, and to let them know we were still alive. No, really!

We began to think our bicycling adventures might have a broader appeal than we expected about 3/4 of the way through our first adventure. One day when checking our Facebook analytics, we discovered there were 6,300 people following us. Wait, what? Something was clearly going on. Maybe people were interested in what we were doing.

Over the next several years, we continued to post about our adventures and from time to time do a public presentation or an interview. The more trips we took and the more we shared them, the more we started to get the question, “When are you going to write a book?”

Tracy

Since writing our first book, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem,” in 2017, we have discussed writing another book about our Mississippi River or Historic Route 66 Bicycle Adventures, it just never seemed to be the right time. Book writing and marketing are a lot of work and take time. Lots of time! We often joke that our first trip only took us three months to complete but the book took a year to write. In early 2021 we finally decided to take a step toward writing another book and reached out to our editor to see if he was interested in working with us again. Unfortunately, he had retired from the editing and book publishing business – bummer. Now what? Once again writing a second book was put on the back burner.  

2022 was not going to let us give up that easily. In August, we drove to Corpus Christi, Texas to visit our youngest daughter, Alexandra. Our road trip took us near many of the roads we bicycled during our 2016 Historic Route 66 Bicycle Adventure. Peter and I kept saying, “I remember that road” or “We stopped at that gas station for a break and a snack, remember?” I finally pulled up our blog on my phone and began to read our daily posts about the area we were driving through. It bought back some great memories and got us wondering again if we should began work on a second book. 

On our way to Texas, we stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma (pop. 411,401) for a couple of days to visit friends. Tulsa was one of the many cities we bicycled through along Historic Route 66. During our visit we were able to have lunch with Robyn, one of our Warm Showers hosts during our bicycle trip. We reminisced about how pooped we were when we got to Tulsa and how gracious Robyn was to allow us to stay for two days. We spent the days, relaxing, getting to know Robyn and her partner Mike, and exploring the city with our very gracious hosts. Robyn told us a great story about Mike and her using the GPS tracker we carried to follow us all the way to Santa Monica, California. Once again, we got the itch to write our second book. 

Our next stop on our driving trip was Stroud, Oklahoma (pop. 2,748) for breakfast. Stroud is located between Tulsa and Oklahoma City and is the home of the famous Rock Café . The Rock Café opened in 1936 and is an iconic Route 66 stop. The café and its’ owner also inspired the Disney movie Cars. We stopped for lunch at the Rock Café in 2016. Peter will never forget what he refers to as “The best buffalo burger I have ever eaten.” We needed to check it out again. Unfortunately, we were there for breakfast and he could not get a buffalo burger – I thought he was going to cry. Breakfast did not disappoint though, and we were able to pick up some Route 66 memorabilia this time since we had plenty of room in our car. More memories.  

In September we were vendors at the Midwest Tandem Rally in Decatur, Illinois. We drove to the rally and once again crossed or traveled along our Historic Route 66 Bicycle route. As a vendor we were selling our book, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem.” Sales were great and many people asked when we were going to write about our other bicycle trips.

That did it, we needed to write our next book! When we got home, we reached out to our editor again to get some recommendations for potential publishers and editors. He surprised us when he said he would be willing to help with our second book – yes! He suggested we write about our third bicycle trip, Historic Route 66 because it is so iconic. People, worldwide, like to read about anything Route 66. We were sold and began work on the book in late 2022.           

Cyrus Avery was part of the Committee that laid down the U.S. highway system. He drew it from LA to Chicago, in 1926, passing through his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is known as the Father of Route 66.

Cyrus Avery created the moniker: America’s Main Street in 1926.

The other moniker Mother Road was coined by John Steinbeck in his novel “Grapes of Wrath” (1939).

Note: Message us if you have questions and/or would like to be put on our book pre-release list.

New Year, New Book: “Bicycling Historic Route 66” (or something like that)

Over the years, we have received wonderful feedback about the bicycling adventures we have shared. From shorter coffee shop and brewery rides to our epic, “once-in-a-lifetime,” unsupported cross-country adventures on our bicycle built for two, they all seem to strike a chord. We couldn’t be happier to share them.

From 2014-2016, we crossed the USA unsupported on our tandem bicycle three times and logged over 10,000 miles of unforgettable adventures.

Our first book, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem: Our Adventure Crossing the USA on a Bicycle Built for Two,” chronicles our cross-country adventure along the Northern Tier of the United States (4,372 miles, 72 days). Our upcoming book will recount our third trip, this time along none other than Historic Route 66.

While we work on the new book, we would like to invite you to join us on another adventure, our book writing adventure. For the next several months we will post weekly on this blog about our progress and experiences, just like we do on our bicycle trips. Our first book writing experience was an incredible journey and we expect this to be no less exciting, painful, frustrating, enlightening… you get the idea.

Stay tuned and let’s all get our kicks on Route 66!

“Route 66” – Rock with The Manhattan Transfer https://g.co/kgs/YWJHCj

Historic Route 66 was commissioned in November 1926, although signs were not erected until the following year. The road was originally slated to be U.S. 60, but it was changed to 66 as it did not run coast to coast.

Note: Message us if you have questions and/or would like to be put on our book pre-release list.

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!