Best Rides of 2016: Lincoln and the High Plains-April 2

April 2 was a travel day for me.  I was on my way to Utah and had driven from our home in Indianapolis to Omaha after work the previous evening.  My Specialized Hardrock was on the back of the car and I had it in my head that I’d stop and ride a little gravel somewhere out in western Nebraska before continuing on to Ogden.

As luck would have it, my hotel in Omaha didn’t have a free breakfast so I decided to detour off of I-80 and grab a bagel sandwich at Bruegger’s in downtown Lincoln.  I love Bruegger’s from our days in the Twin Cities and I hadn’t been to one in seven or eight years so why not?  It was only a few miles off the highway.

Lincoln has always intrigued me.  I don’t know why but  I think it’s because the countryside always starts to feel a little more western when I cross the Platte.  Lincoln’s on the other side…the western side, and so it just feels like I’m in the American West when I get here.

I got off of I-80 at 27th Street and almost immediately discovered that this part of Lincoln is pretty bicycle friendly. I decided to park the car and ride into town instead of driving in and hunting for a parking space.  I wasn’t worried about getting lost.  The Nebraska state capitol building is a high rise and so it was easy to keep my bearings.  I rode trails and surface streets and was downtown in no time.  Motorists were polite and gave me plenty of space.  I rode right through the heart of the city and enjoyed myself immensely.  I got my bagel sandwich, too.

Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln

Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln

MOPAC Trail at 27th Street.

MOPAC Trail at 27th Street.

Heading into downtown on Q Street.  Traffic was light though there was a big event going on in the heart of the city.

Heading into downtown on Q Street. Traffic was light though there was a big event going on in the heart of the city.

The Haymarket is adjacent to the University of Nebraska campus.

The Haymarket is adjacent to the University of Nebraska campus and a fun area to explore on a bike.

The Rock Island Trail runs just to the east of the University of Nebraska campus.

The Rock Island Trail runs just to the east of the University of Nebraska campus.

After that it was back in the car for the 850 mile dash to Ogden.  As planned, I stopped in western Nebraska right where Interstate 76 splits off of 80 and heads down to Denver.  From there, I was able to ride into Julesburg Colorado and then back into Nebraska on sparsely traveled US Highway 136 and a series of farm to market roads.  Everything’s on a grid and flat as can be in this part of the world, so I wasn’t worried about getting lost out here, either.

I parked on the side of Highway 136 at the state line and headed south into Colorado first.

I parked on the side of Highway 136 at the state line and headed south into Colorado first.

Julesburg was just a mile or so down the road.

Julesburg was just a mile or so down the road.

It's an extremely photogenic town.  You'd never know if you just passed by on the highway.

It’s an extremely photogenic town. You’d never know if you just passed by on the highway.

This is wheat country.

Wheat, not weed, is still Numero Uno in this part of Colorado.

And then, just like that, it was back to Nebraska.

And then, just like that, it was back to Nebraska.

Speaking of “out here,” I really enjoy riding these deserted roads on the High Plains.  I wish I would have had more time.  I’ll have to come back again.  A guy can log some serious miles out here without really trying.  That sounds like a fun challenge to me.

All told, it was a great day thanks to the bike.  My log tells me that I only went a combined 8.7 miles but it broke up the 900 mile drive nicely.  I got to check another state capital off of my list (I’ve ridden through downtown Indianapolis, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City and Denver in addition to Lincoln) and  see some new countryside. All in all, it was a great day.

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