The plans: about a month ago, Bob jokingly posted (or mentioned during a ride, I can't remember) that we should do a huge bike trip to Kearney and back. Some plans were made, overnight stays were scheduled, families were informed of absenses, and training was supposed to start. Well, being that was a little over a month ago, neither Bob nor I were ready to ride 180 miles each day of a weekend. And, being the original plan was to do that this last weekend, I'm glad we changed our plans. Bob did clear that weekend, and I had nothing else going, so we decided to try something else.
We came up with the grand idea to ride from Omaha, to the Wabash Trace, ride to the end, camp over night, then come home the next day. Bob found that camping in Coin, just 5 miles from the trail's end, was available, along with a bar/grill that would be open most of the day. 10am to 2am to be precise. So we again made arrangements with families, but then had to figure out bike setups. The Kearney trip was going to be on the road with an overnight stay at a person's house. This trip involved camping. I had gear and bike rack, Bob had family camping gear and no bike rack. So with enough donations from friends/family, we got Bob's bike fitted with a rack and panniers, and my bike setup also. Brady and Bryan both generously offered me sleeping bags since I don't have one. I took Brady up on his offer and he also had a nice Moutain Hardwear tent which, as you'll read later, I really should have accepted. I was busy most of the week prior to the trip, except for Friday, and that's when Bryan was going to be out of town. Oh, and I also didn't want Redemske cooties from his sleeping bag. Just kidding Bryan.
So the morning of the adventure arrived, and I was all set to go. I was right on time, ready to hit the Keystone at 8:30 and meet Bob along the way so we could head across the bridge to be at the trailhead by 10am. See, Bob posted a meeting time and place just in case others wanted to join. Well, I get a call from Bob at 8:30 saying he's still getting ready and just needs to eat something. I was just fine with that because I wanted to get some coffee to start the day off right. Coffee was injected, met the Bob on the trail and off we went. We decided to take the easy route to avoid traffic and hit all the trails to get to the Wabash. This involved some extra mileage since it wasn't a direct route. This made us just miss the meeting time at the trail head.....by an hour. Oh well, I don't think anyone else was crazy enough to join our excursion.
We were on the trail and on our way. 2 things of note so far: 1. riding in the cold was fine since we were both layered properly. Stops, like for food at Mineola since it was lunch time, did result in very chilly restarts, but were soon forgotten within a half hour. 2. riding with camping gear/extra winter weight clothing SUCKS!! The Wabash is rails to trails route. Being so meant that there were no steep hills. But basically, you were either going uphill or downhill at 1 or 2%. FOR MILES. So you're lugging what was once a 25 pound bike, now 55 pounds most of which is in the rear, up these slow steady false flats for an hour at a time. Needless to say, our average speed was not what I'm used to. 10mph was about it for uphills and 12, maybe 13mph for the "downhills."
Since we were not riding very fast, we got to Coin at 4:30pm. We had originally planned on getting to the end of the trail to hit the Missouri State line on the first day(another 5 miles past Coin), but decided we had better setup our camping stuff first and do that trip the next morning. After we visited the Golden Coin Bar/Grill to change into dry warm clothes, we set up camp. Bob had a brand new tent that seemed pretty decent, whereas I had my trusty one man minimalist tent. Very similar to this tent, great for summer, not so smart at 27 degrees. This thing is nice and light, but I sorely regreted not having another 3 pounds of windblock overnight. I tied down the vestibule as best I could, but by the middle of the night, I was ferr-rreeeezing. The wind was very strong and snuck right in to my sleeping place. If I had not used Brady's mummy sleeping bag that was rated down to 20 degrees F(Thanks Brady!!!), I might have gone the way of Peter's post. The worst part about the camping experience, aside from waking up at least 7 times, was my first dream. We were entirely too tired to stay awake at the diner by 9pm. So we attempted to go to bed right then. My mind was not having it. My body was tired, but my mind focused too much on the wind and cold. So, when I did figure out how to curl up in a mummy sleeping bag to gain some warmth, I drifted off to sleep. All of a sudden, I'm riding down the trail and it's sunny and 70 degrees. Then 20 minutes later, I'm in Omaha, where the sun's blazing, and I'm hanging out with Bob and some of my other friends. I then realize that something doesn't seem right. I start asking around why our ride home went by so fast. I couldn't even remember riding back through Council Bluffs. *Snort* I wake up and the wind's still howling and I'm freezing again. This was going to be a long night.
Finally, it was light out when I awoke for the 8th time. Time to get back on it. I bundled up with basically every peice of clothing I had since it was probably around 27 degrees. I had packed a tupperware full of cereal and dried milk for breakfast. That went down fast. I packed up my stuff, and helped Bob get his stuff done too. We headed South to Blanchard, the official end of the trail. We rode through town (3 blocks) and crossed the Missouri State line, just to say we hit 3 states in one day. We were both sore and not very awake. Our average again was a measly 10-12 mph. If my Garmin GPS device is somewhat accurate (which it sometimes isn't since some downhills were showing up as 4% uphills) then getting from Council Bluffs to Coin is mostly uphill. So our ride home felt like downhill a majority of the time. Which was very welcome. We stopped at Shenandoah for brunch. The restaurant was the Train Depot or something like that? Very good food and reasonably priced compared to the 11$ dinner at Coin the night before. About 3pm, it got warm out. The sun had been shining all day (another very welcome situation), and so we peeled off some layers. One hour later, the layers all went back on since the cold came back fast. By this point, after finding out that the Mineola Steakhouse was closed on Sundays, we decided to eat at the BBQ place at the Wabash trailhead in Coucil Bluffs. We figured it would be an hour to ride from there to cross the river if we took the trails again. Bob was having his wife meet him by the Quest Center since he lives by Lake Cunningham and had no rear light to help in the 5:30pm darkness. I decided to trudge on home after I parted ways with my Great Adventure compadre.
I have some afterthoughts to bring up, but I'm too tired from this write-up. I may or may not post more later. That's just how I roll.