Day 34: Easy Breeze

Start/End: Norfolk/Grand Island, NE
Mileage: 110.7
Weather: Cool and cloudy morning, hot afternoon (84 F)

If you have followed our journey throughout this summer, you will see that we have not had the best luck with weather, including yesterday. However, today could not have been more perfect because on this, our longest day of the ride for the summer, we had a tailwind for nearly the entire ride. It was amazing and the day, and our bikes, just flew by.

This morning we started our day an hour early, as agreed upon by the team for our longer days in order to allow us to finish the day a little bit sooner. We had an amazing breakfast consisting of breakfast Danishes, donuts, and watermelon. It was so delicious and we are thankful for the McCarty family for generously donating all of this food. We are also so thankful to the First Christian Church of Norfolk, NE for allowing us to start at their facility. We all slept well and were very comfortable and are just very grateful for their kindness.

As we prepared to leave the stayover, we went outside and noted the morning fog. It had already begun clearing, but it was pretty cool looking. As usual during our morning meeting, we dedicated today’s ride to a rider’s aunt who passed away about a year ago from cancer. It is just so astonishing how close cancer has impacted the lives of this group of 28 riders.

After that, we had our riding groups and set off for the day. Leaving Norfolk was a little interesting, because at 6 AM, it was actually quite busy, likely because third shift at many of the factories had recently gotten off shift. We got to ride on Johnny Carson Way- I am wondering if this was his hometown, but there were signs for a Johnny Carson Museum that would be pretty interesting to visit on another trip.

Within the first 5 miles, we encountered what would be our last stoplight for about 80 miles. This never occurred to us at the time, but I know when our group came across e stoplight at mile 85ish, we really couldn’t recall if we had seen a stoplight during the day or not and proceeded to debate this.

As I mentioned, we had the longest ride day in miles today, but we were just so fortunate to have a strong tailwind that helped us along our route. My group, which was taking it a little more “easy”, averaged about 16.7 mph, while others pushed more throughout the ride, averaging much more. This is just a relatively fast pace to maintain for an extended period, especially for a century plus some day. We mostly stayed on US or state highways for the day, meaning that we had pretty good road conditions, and often a very large shoulder with rumble strips separating us from traffic.

It was a very refreshing day, as we also got to terrain that is what we anticipated from Nebraska. It was mostly flat with a few very gradual hills. It was beautiful. We planned our rest stops throughout the day so that we could stop at a gas station, but between these, there was not much, except an expanse of crops and sometimes some cattle. We saw some mature wheat fields that were just so golden and flowing in the wind. Additionally we saw some our first Sandhills, which are apparently a distinguishable feature from space, but likely further southwest in the state.

When we arrived at the stayover tonight, we found out that we would be provided dinner and had the opportunity to use the showers at the local YMCA. The showers were phenomenal! The walk to them also probably helped stretch us out… Dinner was also really great. We had a tuna casserole, peas and carrots, bread, yoghurt, pineapple/orange mix, and a generous brownie. I know that several of us really appreciated having this home style cooked meal with fruit and veggies. The facility also gave us some great snacks of chips, popcorn and candy, which were awesome treats. Thank you so much! We are also thankful to Fazolis, Red Lobster and Papa Johns for donating food for the team for future days, or a late night snack, as I know that pizza is being heated up as I blog. You honestly would be surprised at the amount of food we consume on this journey….

Anyhow. Tonight we are thankful to have cots to sleep on, so we are all set up for a very good night’s rest. I still cannot believe all of the generosity we experience from strangers and are just so thankful because this trip could not be what it is without the amazing folks who have provided us food and a place to stay. Thank you so much for anyone who has supported us in any way!
-LAH

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