As I’ve reported before I do a lot of riding on my stationary bike, now over 9000 miles in about 16 months, but I relatively rarely ride my real bike (I have three, leftovers from my California riding). When I first moved to Omaha I tried to keep up my riding (I’d usually done about 4000 miles/year, much of it through commuting to work), but it was just too hard. There are at least 3 winter months where it is nearly impossible and the summer months are so hot and humid it was really unpleasant. And once you get out of shape then riding is not fun. So I dropped riding for about 10 years.
But with all the conditioning I was getting with stationary bike, plus much lower weight so maybe I wouldn’t sweat so much, I decided to take it up again. I took my decent mountain bike to the local Trek store for refurbishing and got going again. However there really aren’t any good rides here, compared to the great riding available in the West Bay. Trails are better than nothing, but they’re boring and almost always have strong headwinds.
So the only biking I’ve actually enjoyed in the MoPac Trail, an old railroad right-of-way that has been converted into a 25 mile foot and bicycle trail. At least with good weather it’s not a bad trail, but it’s also nearly an hour’s drive away, and the idea of burning up two gallons of gasoline then just to ride bugs me and so I rarely do it.
But yesterday was very unusual for Nebraska summers. Cool and dry air made it down from Canada and so overnight temp was 50 and daytime temp was low 70s with little humidity, IOW, a great day for riding. So I did haul bike in the car down to try to do most, but not all of the MoPac (50 miles on MTB on gravel would always have been a tough ride). Circumstances forced me to turn around so I only did 23 miles round trip but that’s now my longest ride since being in Nebraska, a minor accomplishment. Now a 23 mile ride is nothing for me, in my old California days. My routine Saturday and Sunday rides were around 30 miles, each day. But that was with a touring bike where I’d average about 17mph whereas yesterday I averaged more like 10mph. I could have done a bit better, both faster and longer, except I’ve had an unusual rash of flats, four in the last four rides, counting the flat yesterday. So on the ride bike I had to stop about every 10 minutes and pump up the tire. Plus when the tire got low the ride was very unstable (rear end of bike kept slipping) plus it took considerably more peddling effort. It’s too bad to have had that trouble because I felt like doing a longer ride.
Anyway I took a couple of pictures with iPod Touch (lousy camera, but easy to carry), so at least I can include these here:
This is a shady stretch of the trail near its eastern terminus near the tiny town of Wabash (I used to call this trail the ‘Wabash’, but that’s actually a better trail in Iowa). Since this is an old and flat railroad grade it is mostly in a cut and in many areas surrounded by “wild” green stuff (most of the trail is in cornfields) so it actually has a nice feel to it.
the first (eastern) part of the trail is near Weeping Water Creek and so this little creek is a tributary, with an old but now refurbished railroad bridge.
On a pleasant day for riding and few other people this trail can be a good riding experience even though it is slow (due to unpaved surface thus also requiring fat tire bike). However, in the entire 15 years I’ve lived here there has been no extension to the trail even though the right-of-way could connect all the way to Omaha. Somehow the state doesn’t care enough to build more trail (most of the funding has been donations, not taxes, but state has to get the permits and control the work whoever pays). It’s too bad it isn’t longer because a “wilderness” trail from Omaha to Lincoln would attract a lot more riders and if a town (like Elmwood) roughly in the middle had accommodations for distance hikers or bikers it could really be a nice ride/hike. But even though it is disappointing the trail hasn’t been extended at least 25 miles of it got built, better for Lincoln residents since it connects to street trails in Lincoln.