Range Roaming – Nebraska 2013 – Day 19

Finally back on the road: Lincoln to York

Friday May 3, 2013, 62 miles (99 km) – Total so far: 700 miles (1,127 km)

Today is a day about forward progress. My pre-trip notes are pretty blah for this section – just details about potential places to stay plus food and water sources. And so ‘blah’ is pretty much what the day brings.

It is a little confusing finding my way out of Lincoln, even with directions, but I eventually find myself in the shoulder of Hwy 34 heading west-bound. For a moment, I thought I might never find my way out of one suburban neighbourhood when the bike path suddenly ended!

The first part of the day is spent riding up and down hilly terrain. These hills are glacial till deposited by a pre-Illinoian glacier in the early Pleistocene about 1.5 million years ago. Glacial till, the debris carried by the ice, is left at the margins of the glacier as the ice melts. I love knowing the history of the landscape that I’m riding over/through. I love to think about the scale of time and how cool it is to be riding over glacial remains from 1.5 million years ago. 1.5 million years!!

Not long before Seward, you drop across a major drainage divide, even though there is nothing really in the landscape to tell you this. I think the last downhill was just a bit bigger than the others, but the road shoulder is so crappy, I may have missed some subtle indication as I was picking a line through the rough pavement. Anyway, as you drop into the valley of the Big Blue River, you descend out of the westernmost advances of the Pleistocene glaciers.

Seward sits on the top of a hill. You climb out of the Big Blue river valley to get there. All services are available here – I only visit the grocery store at the western edge of town. I sit outside to consume pasta salad and chocolate milk. There is a woman setting up what Aussies call a “sausage sizzle”. She talks to me for a few minutes – she’s afraid they aren’t going to make any money since it’s always slow when it’s cold. And it is unseasonably cold – it’s almost 10.30am and it has only just reached 40F.

Leaving Seward, and all the way to York, you ride across even more ancient glacial tills. These deposits were laid in the Late Pliocene, almost 2.5 million years ago. They have had an extra million years to erode, so the hills are much more gentle (it’s even flat at times) than the hills east of the Big Blue river valley. Wow – the time scales never cease to blow me away. Ride 15 miles – and the surface geology reaches back another million years. Oh dear, I am such a nerd….

The sun of the morning has given way to more stratus clouds and a heftier wind. What started this morning as a light 5 mph, occasionally gusting to 10 mph, northerly crosswind has steadily increased all day with the clouds. From Tamora to York, the wind is 15-20 mph. I’m riding with a constant lean to the north. That sort of wind is definitely ride-able, but also quite fatiguing.

York, a rural center of 7,700 people, stretches out for a long ways north-south along Fed Hwy 81. As I turn south, the now-tailwind propels me along at 25mph. I’m sure there are nice things to see in downtown York, but I never saw them. Instead I just flew along with the traffic, heading down toward the interstate (a good 5 miles south of old downtown) to find a place to stay. There is camping in this town but no water or toilets this early in the season.

I find a motel, watch a car accident happen (just a fender-bender) on the frontage road, debate about giving the non-fault person my details (decide not, it appears other people who are more likely locals have done so), then head out to find some fruit and veg. My arms ache from holding onto the bike and riding at such an angle into the wind. I will sleep well tonight!

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