Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Here we are in Chadron, our last stop in Nebraska. Last time I was able to write we were just about to cross the border out of Iowa. Hard to believe that was only 6 days ago. We've gone over 500 miles in that little time. As you may have heard, quite a few of us have been sick with one thing or another, but (knock on wood) it seems to be dying out. Personally, my sore throat and stuffy nose are much better. The day off today is providing some much needed rest.
Probably the most notable ride of this week was from Valentine to Gordon. That morning, we all woke up at 4:30am so that we could get biking as early as possible and avoid the heat. It was really cool to be up so early we actually had to wait until the sun was high enough to provide light enough to bike. At about 6:15, I headed out with the sunrise at my back. I was heading into terrain almost exactly like that of the day before, a day that I dreaded due to its dry, sandy, hot conditions. But that morning at 6:15, everything was peaceful, cool, and extraordinarily lit. The brown sand dunes of the day before took on a new color. They cast long shadows and deeper oranges and purples appeared. The green underlayer of grass shown through. Before our first lunch, we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone, meaning we actually ate *lunch* number one at 7:15 in the morning. Lunch number two came at 9:30am, and by noon we had all biked 93 miles into Gordon. Upon arriving, Amelia, Courtney, Whitney and I headed over to the Antelope Creek Cafe, a little local diner, to get some ice cream. I talked briefly with another touring cyclist heading east to Iowa City. He was headed to Merriman for the day, where we had stopped for lunch number 2. I told him about the Sand Cafe, one of two establishments in the little town ("town") where the woman there doesn't charge for drinks, only sets our a jar for donations. She had covered the walls with Polaroids, and we were happy to find pictures of past B&B trips there as well. Next time you're in Merriman, NE, look for me on the wall of the Sand Cafe.
It's been really interesting watching the terrain change while biking. Just yesterday, on the ride here to Chadron from Gordon, Amelia, Derrick and I were talking about our expectations for Wyoming. We expected to see more evergreens and rocky hills. Not 10 minutes later, we looked up to find we were surrounded by trees and off in the distance we could see rocks sticking out from the hills that 2 miles back were entirely made of sand. The terrain changes so abruptly, and often almost directly on state lines. But when I look back, I forget when exactly things started looking different from home. We're definitely not on the east coast anymore, Toto.