Nick on the bike 2005: Oregon to Virginia
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Day 36: Brownville Nebraska to Atchison, Kansas
August 19, 2005, 8:33 PM
Where am I now: Atchison, Kansas (39.55759N by 95.12800W at 798 ft.)
Today's distance: 89 miles

Yesterday Nebraska, today the land of Oz. Tomorrow first thing I'll cross a hairy bridge and be in Missouri.

There were owls down along the river with me last night, "who cooks for you" owls, and some kind of just plain "hoot" owls. They all got into it in the middle of the night. I would have been annoyed at being woken up by just about anything else. There were also these lazy 3 inch long flying insects hanging on the tent in the morning.

They didn't seem up to doing much of anything, probably close to the end of their life cycle. I archived photo documentation of the bugs not the owls.

I rode through Brownville up onto the bluffs as the sun and wind were getting themselves organized for the day. Brownville is a place where some people have put a lot into restoring old buildings, and creating a nice place to visit. There's theater, a museum, various historic points of interest. It's an attractive place, the only problem is what's missing. There's no restaurant, no focal point general store, no place that drew me in on a Friday morning.

Morning ride sounds (applies to every day the sun shines): guardrail creaking as the sun hits it & it expands. That's something you never hear in a car. Then there're the frogs and insects. They are particularly vibrant this morning in rolling Nebraska farmland.

Nemaha, down the road 5 miles did draw me in. There're only 88 people living there compared with 146 in Brownville, but the sign outside the store says "this is the only place to stop in Nemaha". Stop I did & bought Gatorade as it was already getting hot. Plus the usual conversation with the locals. "You're gonna get rained on down that way today". We'll see. Dark clouds are massing to the south.

I wend my way across rolley polley topography to Falls City. The roads are good, but the up and down stuff is similar to around Jordan, Montana, and wears me down early in the day. As I pull into Falls City thinking food, a pedestrian hails me & asks if I'm riding the L&C trail. Turns out he's a westbounder taking a day off (maybe I should do that...). We chat, I tell him about how I haven't run into a touring cyclist since north of Bismarck, North Dakota, and I'm now beginning to hallucinate cyclists in the far distance on some of these straight roads. He says there are several east bounders a day or two ahead of me, and that the road flattens out a bit after Falls City. He sets off to walk back to his motel, I go downtown.

I use the ATM at a bank, ask the head loan officer where's a good place to get a meal. He drops what he's doing, walks outside with me, and points to the restaurant down the street. He said he wanted to see my rig & make sure I found the place without getting lost. I ordered up a full spaghetti dinner at 11AM plus a couple gallons of iced tea, it was great.

Back on the road & refueled I cook over to Rulo, where the route gets back onto the flat flood plain, then I ran for about 25 miles south at 17 or 18mph on the level roads with neutral wind. I had forgotten the thing would actually move along at reasonable speed when the conditions are right. This is when the cat-and-mouse game with the thunderstorms starts. The clouds are really roiling around directly in front of me, but no lightning so I keep moving. I fly through the Iowa Indian Reservation into Kansas,

and keep moving to the hamlet of Sparks, where there are signs announcing that the road is closed in 3 miles, and declaring a detour of untold miles. Fortunately, the westbouder I ran into earlier had told me he was able to walk his bike through the previous day, I would do the same. I probably would have gutted it out even if I hadn't talked to the guy, I'll deal with some nasty stuff if I have to rather than tacking another 25 or more miles on the ride.

At Fanning, right before the road construction I pull into the gas station, take a seat & jaw for a bit with the locals over Gatorade. The sky continues to look awful to the south, I hang out for 10 or 15 minutes. They say "hell yeh you can get through that, they've only got about a quarter mile tore up". They also said it rained 4 inches last night and the construction guys didn't work today because of the mud.

Muddy it was. I muscled the bike and BOB through the gooey mess, which was not rideable, ending up with everything caked in mud (but I figured the inevitable rain would wash things off).

At Troy I hung out under the portico of the Catholic church and watched the clouds to the south. Atchison has motels, and it's only another 18 miles. The whole cloud mess seems to be moving east, I hang out for a half hour then get back on the bike. I roll into Atchison not much more than an hour later, I was stoked to beat the weather. While I was checking into the motel, rig parked under the portico, it started to rain.