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Sunday 12 June 2011

Day 34 - Agincourt

Todays mileage: 46
Total mileage: 1,643
End point: Ogallala, NE

(Before I start todays blog I wanted to update you on the dead bird situation, you will be glad to know that Nebraskans are not committing bird genocide. From my research I have found that the cause of the deaths is West Nile Virus, which is sweeping through the bird population carried by mosquitos. Humans can catch the disease although the majority of the time experience no ill effects; there have ben cases of serious fever and very rarely death. The disease is such that the UK blood service will not accept donations from people who have been in Canada, Mexico or the US in the last 28 days. This particular spate of bird deaths has been driven by the North Platte River bursting its banks and creating a temporary marshland on which the mosquitos can thrive.)

There were 2 ways of looking at my room in the Oshkosh Inn. An optimist would have treated the room as a fine example 1930s art-deco architecture which had been given gentle brush strokes of modernisation for the guest. A pessimist would have viewed this a prison cell; the inmate was held in a low security prison and had through hard work and respect to the regieme earnt a number of basic amenities, and would upon release be of minimal risk to the community and likely depart from the criminal path. The truth was this was 20% the former and 80% the latter. But in fairness to the Oshkosh Inn it holds a special place in my heart, for it has been the cheapest motel I have stayed in to date. Their pricing structure considered not only the size of the room but also the number of occupants and therefore came in at $29 - less than £20, and as such represented excellent value for money.

I stocked up at the local gas station as per usual where I ran into the local sheriff. I enquired as to the state of the shoulder on the road ahead and made a small joke about how he wouldn't be pulling me over for speeding. What I should have asked him, and what I still want to know is the police's answer to a hypothetical question about public urination. In France this is obviously considered a national past time, and any male not partaking would have his masculinity questioned. The British take a slightly more conservative approach, its ok, as long as you don't flaunt it. I specifically remember dad pulling over on the M6 (stuck in horrendous brum traffic) and having to urinate down a drain. Now in the United States I believe it is illegal, plain and simple. This is fine if you are in a car and you aren't in Utah but for the touring bicycle rider it is an impossibility. I would like to know the exact punishment for the crime, so I can judge the amount of effort I am willing to put into hiding myself. It should be said in Nebraska this is quite a challenge.

I left on the road east out of Oshkosh enroute to Lewellen. Nothing too exciting to report apart from running over a snake (I tihnk it was already dead) and encoutering an abandoned arm chair by the side of the road. The last ownwer had written 'free' on the bottom. This amused me, was the owner trying to deny that he was dumping trash, and that he was actually making a charitable donation? I took a brief seat and had I had the proper writing utensils I would have been tempted to remove 'free' and replace it with some bargain price such as 57¥.

I had low expectations for Lewellen, it was like Lisco with the vending machine yesterday merely a dot on the map, unlike Oshkosh which had the glory of a hollow circle. Yet to my suprise I found a town, which, had it been a weekday I could have spent a pleasant afternoon in. A couple of cute cafes, gift shop and most impressively a winery. I have been meaning to have a sneaky glass of wine to aid my riding; it was unfortunately closed, this was probably just as well as I'd probably have ended up in the art gallery next door buying an unecessary and overpriced painting to have shipped to England.

A couple of miles out of Lewellen I saw two men roaming around in a ditch as if searching for something. Upon closer inspection they were brandishing bows, compound bows. The only reason I know about compound bows is because my old boss (hi mike!) used to have one, they have pulleys on either end to maximise the power for any given size. All of a sudden one of the men stood upright, took aim, fired and then with a little struggle yanked a pretty good size fish out of the ditch. I was impressed, I knew people went hunting with bows, I knew americans liked to fish - but fishing with a bow?? There you go!

Talking of bows and arrows I think it is time to take a small moment to celebrate the English Victory at the battle of Agincourt - readers with a casual knowledge of English medieval history may want to skip this paragraph. The Battle of Agincourt (1415) represented a decisive vistory for the English over the French and demonstrated the superiority of the longbow over the crossbow. Legend has it that this is how a 'V' made of the first two fingers with the knuckles facing towards the opponent came into existance. The french when capturing a longbow man would chop these fingers off to stop him continuing his trade, this symbol demonstrated that the fingers were intact and a volley of arrows could soon be expected. I digress.

Leaving Lewellen was a big hill heading south into the wind. I had added a note to my imaginery letter to the Governor of Nebraska that should I see any tourist literature claiming Nebraska was flat I would be forced to launch legal action, preferably using a no win, no fee firm. At the top I was expecting a downhill, but instead a plateau. After peddling a long for a few moments I realized I had entered the Windows XP default wallpaper. An ongoing field of bright green, with gentle blue sky, with white fluffy clouds seen at the start of the Simpsons.

As I cycled along through Bill Gates utopia, a car was parked up on the shoulder blocking my route. Al and Alison were a lovely couple from Tennessee who had been out visiting the west (yes Angela I know - every one from TN is nice). They were keen to sponsor me and starting flashing notes at me but I directed them to the website to prevent accidental purchase of beer and other necessities. When I asked them why they had stopped they said they had been taking some landscape shots with the wind. I wished them well and asked them not to take any more wind photos, especially of southerly winds.

I am now in Ogallala and am pretty after battling through another day of headwinds. As some of you ave noticed I am now passed the half way stage in distance, but more of that tomorrow..


  1. Brian, I laughed so many time this morning while reading this. The two ways of viewing the motel room, public urination, Windows XP wallpaper, the "free" chair. That is one large fish!! That couple looks so cute. Love you!

  2. Brian, this is the first time that I've been able to take the time to read your blog. I feel bad because you were one of our top blog readers and we could always count on your comments!! I love this crazy adventure that you are doing. You are crazy!!! Love it! Vic x

  3. Of course they were nice -- I'm probably related to them!