July 6, 1999 - Day 31 - Trenton to Holdrege, Nebraska

96.9 miles, 14.3 average speed, 1817 total miles ridden, 32.3 mph top speed

23 roadkill
(I saw a smashed doughnut on the shoulder today. Is that r'O'dkill?)

ERRATA In yesterday's journal, the 'answer' to the little question of what time it is at the time zone sign SHOULD have read, "The present", not "The president". The Tribune regrets the error.

Note to all who have emailed: I'm moved by the wonderful things you are saying about the trip and the journaling. Your encouragement is wonderful - goes straight to the legs. I'm now officially overwhelmed with email. It's 1:50 a.m. and I just finished reading it all. Now I must write the journal. I just cannot answer all of it at this time.

Nebraska Hills
Hilly Nebraska
So Nebraska is flat, eh? Why do we think that? Because we all take I80, which follows the Platte River valley, which IS flat. Those pioneers weren't stupid. Why would they wear their oxen or mules out going over this?

But... a day Teddy Roosevelt would describe as "Dee-lightful!!!"

It started late, as usual, (see note above about email). I ate two personal pizzas and a diet coke for 'breakfast' at about 11:30 and headed out of Trenton, east on Rte. 34.
(By the way, yesterday Rte. 34 was joined by old friend Rte. 6, from back in Nevada, and all of today's travels have been on U.S. 34 and 6.)

It was overcast, temp in the mid-70's, and yes a headwind, but nothing like yesterdays. Can I get a hundred miles in today with such a late start?

Red Willow County Sign
Bongiorno, principe!! It's a beautiful life!
The web site for Red Willow County was done by Daniele Facchin, an exchange student from northern Italy. If you check it out, you will feel his energy and enthusiasm and see how really excellent his command of English is. Daniele just emailed me yesterday to say goodbye: he left Downers Grove and should now be back home in Italy. Daniele was an excellent addition to our school and community - the absolute model of what you would like to see in the exchange program. Daniele, I know you're reading this from home, now. I thought about you all day today.

Valentino's Pizza
Best pizza in the world
My family knows exactly what this sign means to me.
I know what you're thinking: "Nebraska?? Best pizza??? You're from CHICAGO, for pizza's sake!!! I doubted, too, until I first tasted Valentino's at what in 1972 was one of their two locations, both in Lincoln. Since then, they have branched into almost every decent-sized town in Nebraska (including this one in McCook) and their quality has slipped, but just a tiny bit. If they were to expand into Chicago, they would be monstrous. I hope they don't. Remember what happened to Coors? (That question is NOT for my students.)

Carl Mohr
Carl Mohr of Mohr's Style and Barber Shop, McCook
I had been looking for a barber shop for more than a week and I couldn't have found a better one. Carl has lived in McCook for more than 60 of his 82 years.
I told him I wanted it cut "just short enough so people will look and say 'that's where the part used to be'" As he was finishing up, Carl put the hot towel on the back of my neck, then the foam, and brought out the straight razor to clean it up right. Shops in my area don't do this anymore (AIDS I guess, or a good excuse to cut back on one more of life's little pleasures).
On a whim I asked, "Do you shave?" He said he did, and I said "Set me up!" It has been one of those little things of mine that I've always wanted to get a shave at a barber shop. And so I got one. Man, what a luxury. Carl said he hadn't had anyone ask for one in several years, but he shaves himself with the straight razor every morning. The chair went back full tilt, the headrest came up, and I just laid back and enjoyed it. It was history, art and luxury all in one.
Carl really knew what he was doing, from the hot towel over the whole face, including wiping down the eyes, to two foamings, to handling that razor with precision, to turning my face the other direction like a man does, not like a dentist. He was flawless, an artist at work. I'm not sure he didn't enjoy it as much as I did. When he was done, he proclaimed, "Not a nick!" And there wasn't. Then the aftershave slapped on.
It was more than '2 bits', but it was worth every penny. It will probably be my last one. Thanks, Carl.

I had a couple of other things to buy in the big city (pop. 8000). As I came out of one store, who should I bump into but Judy Malone, from the M-Bar Ranch! Small world.
Well, by the time I left McCook I had traveled a whopping 23 miles in 3 hours. It was now 3:00 p.m.: 70 plus miles to Holdrege. The wind was still coming out of the east. No way.

Tour de Nebraska
This is a combine (I think). They call it a combine because it can cut hay OR pull corn (I think). Anyway, I was about 10 miles east of McCook, slogging along at around 14 mph, when I hear this thing gaining on me. It takes up the shoulder and half the lane. I let it go around me and then realized it wasn't traveling THAT much faster than me. Could I catch him and try to draft on him?

Combine Close-Up
Forming the Peloton
Since I've never biked with a group before I wasn't sure how close I needed to be, but once you get into the draft, you sure know it, especially on a vehicle this big!! It was absolutely magnificent. I just got pulled along for more than 10 miles at between (and this is precise) 17.5 and 18 mph. I could take a few pedal strokes and then coast for 10 yards. I could have read a newspaper. I managed to take two pictures (Chris, you can be glad you didn't see it: of COURSE I had the strap around my neck!)

And then he turned into a field and it was back into the wind and 14 mph. But what a sweet gift. And it was totally fun, except for all the hay blowing all over me. We even went up one pretty good hill - 18 mph where I would normally be down to 7 or 8.

Harlan County Sign
Harlan County
Megin Holt did a good job with this web site in the Info Maps section.

And before I knew it I was in Cambridge, Home of the Trojans.

State Champs
State Champs
That's a lot of state championships for the Trojans. I bet they hire their coaches based on ability, not whether or not their athletic director can control them like puppets.

Phelps County Sign
Phelps County??
I missed this one. It was assigned to no student. Oops. My destination of Holdrege is in this county.

Did anyone see the made-for-TV classic from about 1972 starring Dennis Weaver as the traveling salesman who is harangued by the semi? Well... whatta ya think? Did I find it or what? I traveled the remaining two miles into Holdrege with a firm eye on my 3rd Eye rearview mirror.

I made it by 9:30, just as darkness was falling. I have a very good strobe taillight and I'm glad of it, but traffic was light coming in to town. I'm at an immaculate little mom and pop called "The Plains Motel" run by a Dutch couple. (Of course it's immaculate.They told me I have to sweep the sidewalk before I leave tomorrow.)

Hotel Room
The Inner Sanctum
I get one bed, the bike gets the other.

Late Night Computing
Mobile computing at 2:30 a.m.

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