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Wednesday 15 June 2011

Day 37 - Pony Express

Todays mileage: 68
Total mileage: 1,768
End point: Lexington, NE

As I packed up my belongings this morning the man in the RV next door to me appeared carrying an odd shaped lilo. He told me he was being summoned by his wife to bring it over. He was working on the computer, and she had called by phone him to bring it over, I looked over at the pool only 50 feet away and there she was! This he warned me with an evil chuckle was married life.

I had a mission before leaving this morning, post some belongings to pam which I no longer required. A few books and maps, the idaho bell, my now redundant mini pump and some other nic-nacs. I was tempted to post my stove, I don't really need it but there is something liberating about cooking your own meals out in a state park. I took a few wrong turns before generally concluding I was in the right area. I approach a group of hipanic guys who claimed not to speak english, so I went for a bit of 'donde estas la posta?', I'm fairly sure on the 'donde estas' bit, but 'la posta' was just me saying french words with a spanish accent. It was effective and he pointed at the building 20 feet away from me. I decided it was time to get involved with a flat rate box, $11 to anywhere in the US - USPS advertising had finally persuaded me. I squished everything into the box and thought I would take a photo of the outside. As I was doing a gentleman appeared and half jokingly asked if I was going to bomb the place. This was a dificult joke because the post office shared the same building as the FBI and the DEA! Not quite knowing how to reply I told him that I would have been taking interior photos if that had been my aim.

I left North Platte on highway 30 towards Maxwell and after a few miles approached a road closed sign. Not wanting to take a 5 mile detour I pushed forward. I had two major concerns, firstly that I physically couldn't get through and secondly a large sign which said $1,000 fine for any vehicles attempting to take this route. I decided not to photograph the sign so I could claim I had no knowledge should the case go to court! I had my excuses lined up as followed:
1. I didn't think bicycles counted in this sense as vehicles
2. I'm not allowed on the interstate in Nebraska (sounds believable..)
3. I'm a tourist and an idiot - please please don't arrest me

After about 4 miles I reached the roadworks, the entire width of the road had collapsed into a drainage channel. I approached three construction workers and pleaded my case. After about 3 seconds of silence, and me trying to work out whether their stoic faces were really ones of disapproval or bemusement one of the workers agreed to guide me through and added 'it wasn't me, remember..' What followed should have been carried out on a mountain bike, a steep drop off into a railway ditch with gravel and sand, he was only doing about 15 mph but I was clinging onfor dear life. I weaved around some pipes, cables and other obstacles before just about making it to the otherside. The highway was completely clear for the next 6 miles and I took the opportunity for a mid highway photo, although concious that trucks might appear (an unloaded gun is the most dangerous gun.. blah blah..)

I stopped for a quick refreshment at the 'Korner Store' in Maxwell where I was interrogated for quite some time on the exact nature of the roadworks on highway 30. I continued on through Brady and towards Gothenburg. Each of these towns was quite similar with large grain silos next to the railway line, with a few little stores and a western feel. Gothenburg however has a claim to fame, it has one of the original stop offs of the Pony Express.
A lady from the Gothenburg times told me all about it when I asked her for directions. The Pony Express operated in the early 1860s; mail was telegrammed to Missouri and then pony riders would ride from there through Gothenburg to Sacramento, California. Each rider did around 70 miles a day, with each post seperated by the same distance. The pony express was short lived and unprofitable, and was destroyed in just a few years by a the transcontinental telegram - the legend lives on though (its the little old house in the photos).

For those of you that care about the cycling! The wind has been very gentle today, very hot, 30c + (90f) and the hummidity so so... The terrain has been nearly completely flat with a few tiny hills that remind me of sand dunes next to the beach in terms of size. More grass, more trains etc..

I am now in Lexington. Now I should point out Lexington is usually a swear word in our house, for Lexington, KY is home to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the arch enemies of the Louisville Cardinals, who I am required to support. The wildcats are known for their loud mouthed and over emotional fans (are you reading Shawn Bidwell / Micheal Merman..? they probably aren't ;) There are of coure other Lexingtons - Lexington Avenue in New York, the Lexington Column in the Economist. So where does all this 'Lexington' come from? I just didn't know! Well very appropriately given its nearly the 4th of July; Lexington was the first major victory for US forces over the British in the American War of Indepence (known here as the American Revolutionary War). The Redcoats are coming!! No taxation without representation!! We'll park this until the 4th :)

I am now pretty tired, but am hoping maybe to make Kansas very soon. Before I leave Nebraska however I must send my letter to the Governor :)


  1. Love the cheeky history, Brian. Keep it coming! "Safe but not too safe" travels!

  2. i know shawn isn't reading...feel free to badmouth cats fans' behavior at your whim!