Days 34 to 36 - Bye-bye Mountains, Hello Nebraska.
Day 34 - Today saw us leave the mountains behind and move on to the first US state reknowned for the plains of the Mid-West as we entered Nebraska.
Monday was a long ride of over 100 miles but apparently we had the chance to see a Union Pacific 'Big Boy' along the way. "What's that?" I hear you ask! It's a massive steam locomotive, a behemoth, a monster, which was also running rather late!!! We were into the first 20 miles when we first heard about this train and we stood on a bridge expecting to see something appear imminently, only to hear that the engine had not left Cheyenne yet!
As a result, we moved on, leaving all the train enthusiasts we had met, to wait to click their cameras once the train was on it's way. However, our route ran parallel with the train track and we also found out that it would be stationed in Sidney, our destination as the end of the day. So we pedalled on thinking we could pull over once the train came through or, at least, we might see it in the evening.
As you can imagine the plains do not contribute much in terms of landscape other than long vistas of endless roads but the occasional interesting building did pop up! The other thing to see was the excitement about the train as enthusiasts were stationed along the track at most of the key vantage points. "This train must be worth seeing!" I told myself and it was!!
Just after we arrived in Sidney, the heavens opened and we had torrential rain where both the road and pavement were completely flooded but not enough to effect the church where we were staying. Within two hours of this downpour we ventured out to the train station to take a closer look at the Big Boy, with little evidence of the rain that had fallen.
Day 35 - Was a fun ride of 67 miles but it was made all the more enjoyable by a tailwind where most of us set our own average speed records for the tour. Mine was an average speed of 19.6 miles per hour so the ride took less than 3.5 hours to complete but I was not the fastest rider. Admittedly, if you are not interested in wheat or corn, there was not a great deal to see other than undulating hills and long vistas.
Day 36 - I was one of the sweepers today alongside Patrick Roberts who was only with us for the one week. It was great to chat with him as we were riding in his home state but he now lives in Arkansas in southern USA. We kept a good pace again and fortunately did not have to wait for anyone struggling with either mechanical issues or flat tyres. Our average speed for the day was still 16.8mph, which was fast for sweeping.
One of the places we stopped at en-route was Paxton for a rest stop. Just round the corner was the home of Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge which is something of a local 'attraction'. I must admit I did not enjoy seeing all the Big Game trophies hanging off the wall and the stuffed polar bear was frankly disturbing when you now know they are an endangered species. I was rather relieved to leave the place and I hope that it's 'attraction' decreases as it becomes obvious that killing animals is not a sport to be celebrated!
Later in the week as we rode along through Nebraska we started to see evidence of recent widespread flooding that had affected the area and this would cause us a few issues later in the tour.