Days 9 thru 10 - Corn on the Left, Coal on the Right
Lincoln Travel Blog› entry 9 of 16 › view all entries
THURSDAY 29 JULY 2010
Departure from Omaha: 9:47 am
Arrival in Lincoln: 1:38 pm
Saddle/Total Time: 3:27:53/3:51
Average Speed: 12.1 mph
Wrong Turns: 1
Money Spent: $0.00
Today was another simple, flat one on the bicycle. These are the distances much more pleasurable.
Denise and Emma-Kate sang a wake-up song for Raven. "The sun is on his way / there's so much to do today." Denise was kind enough to take me to the southern edge of Omaha, eliminating 30 miles, or three hours, of hilly, dense urban riding. We pulled off where Highway 6 meets Interstate-80, the most popular Interstate for drug trafficers. Raven had colored in a picture of dinosaurs for me. "So when you look at it, you can remember me," she says. "You can put it on your refridgerator when you get home." This is the first time she has lent me such a gesture.
Highway 6 heads south all the way into Lincoln. It turns into the Cornhusker Highway just as you enter. It has a 7- or 8-foot shoulder, which makes biking it comfortable, despite the fact deafening semis are hauling butt past you at 70 mph. Nebraskans, like Wisconsinites, believe in road-shoulders. I didn't encounter any in Iowa. I suppose the Iowans could quip: we save all our shoulders as foundations for our heads.
I call Pam. She directs me off the noisome city roads and onto a bike path that leads to a grade school near her house. Like Rick in Cedar Rapids, she comes out to meet me on her bike and takes me the rest of the way. She and Mark have a nice, new house they have lived in only since June. Pam just arrived back from RAGBRAI. Mark is a turbo-prop pilot in the military, and has just spent the last 6 weeks stationed in Alabama. He arrived home last night.
After a snack of sushi, cashews, and grapes, Pam and I drive to pick up her produce co-op share. I help all the share-holders unload a van of fresh, organic produce and the shoppers pick out things like tomatos, hot peppers, green peppers, squashes, watermelons, and Bolivian Rainbow, a hot pepper that starts purple, turns white, then yellow and orange. Finally, it turns red when the capiscum count measures devilishly hot. Pam introduces me to another Pam, whose mother sustenance farmed for her family. She knows some yacht owners in San Diego, and tells me she might be able to get me in touch with some; they may have connections for a ride across the Pacific around the time I'm going.
Back home, I had planned to go on an evening ride with Pam and a group of bikers. When I laid down to rest my eyes for a second, though, I woke up an hour and a half later, feeling like my body had made the better of two decisions for me.
FRIDAY 30 JULY 2010
Money Spent: $1.39
Tonight I will take a train from Lincoln to Denver. Pam took me to the bike shop to ask about breaking down the bike and boxing it. The shop won't do it for free, so we take the box and thank them. It takes me about 90 minutes to remove the handlebar bag mounting hardwear, the handlebar itself (leaving the shift and brake cables in place), the front and rear wheels, the rear fender, and the seat post. It requires just two sizes of hex wrench and a phillips-head screwdriver. I try to remove the pedals, keeping in mind I do not own a pedal wrench with which to put the pedals back on in Denver; this is the one tool I do not possess. It is a single-use, special tool that is large and weighs about a pound; it is not practical for me to pack one with me; this may be the only time I will need one for the life of these pedals. Instead, I cut holes in the bikebox down for the pedals, leaving them sticking out the sides of the box. I wrap them in packing-cardboard and put bright blue masking tape over them. I will ask to handle the box myself on the train.
Later, Pam and I run some errands and she takes me for a tour around Lincoln and University of Nebraska's campus. She tells me about herself: she sold a commercial real estate company in Lincoln, after graduating from U of Nebraska, and was a stockbroker right out of school; she has spent much of her life here. She grew up around animals. When she was my age, she was a horse trainer. We visit a 90-year-old house she used to own, closer to downtown Lincoln. She knows the new owners and still uses a compost barrel in an empty lot next door. We drop off some fly-ridden old flowers and then have lunch downtown. Pam is currently an undeclared Master's student. She wants to get an Master's in Art History, but the closest universities that offer such programs are in Colorado or Kansas.
I learn about Lincoln and Nebraska in general: many similarities to Madison and Wisconsin, respectively. Like Wisconsin once had its most populous city (Milwaukee) as its capitol, moving the seat to its second most populous, and less industrial city (Madison), Nebraska once had Omaha, its most populous city, as its capitol, but moved the seat to Lincoln, its second most populous and a less industrial city. Madison and Lincoln are similar in size - ~235,000 and ~252,000, respectively - and are both big college towns. With the University of Nebraska joining the Big Ten next year, the two cities will be in the same Division I sports conference.