When we got up this morning, I went outside to get an idea of the temperature.   Immediately I was struck by how similar it felt to home. It was a little overcast which we hadn't seen so far on the trip, but that wasn't it. I soon realized it was the humidity. This was the first day that the air was anything but dry. It certainly impacted us later in the day when the temperature approached 90. 

  Dave and I made it to breakfast first, but after almost two weeks together we know what each other likes so we were able to order for all three.  We each got the big breakfast, eggs, ham, hash browns, toast, coffee, but something else caught our eye - cinnamon rolls. They were warm, covered with icing and delicious. I tried to take a picture that did them justice and I apologize in advance to my brother-in-law Charles who does the photography for my sister's food blog, stylishcuisine.com. 

Breakfast is when we finalize our stopping points. Overnight I received intel from Command Central that gave us the distances between towns, the locations of the grocery stores and the elevation profile for the ride. They also recommend places to stay at the destination location.  Command Central is manned by my three sisters:

Gail in Needham, MA,

Lauren (with her 6 week old son Grant) in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, 

and Diane in Manhattan. 

We couldn't do it without them, especially now that the route has changed. 

    Now on to the day. We were on the road by 7:15.  Route 20 in Nebraska is called the Butte to Bridges Byway. We were in the Butte section which can be seen through the retreating morning fog 

   The first push was to Chadron, NE about 30 miles away. Although we planned the route West to East to take advantage of the winds, we had a steady headwind.  With a strong headwind our pace will drop to 13-14 mph, compared to a tailwind when we can easily ride 23-25 and when that is combined with a downhill stretch, 30+ is easy.  We've become accustomed to each other's riding and are very comfortable in a pace line at those speeds. If you want an idea of what that's like, here's some video that Justin shot:

Riding between Fort Robinson, NE and Martin, SD. from Justin on Vimeo.

After Chadron we had a chance to practice as the road turned more north east, with a strong tail wind and sloped downhill.  We were at our lunch stop in Gordon, NE quite quickly, smiling and happy for the change in fortune with the winds. 

    We stopped in the local grocery store, bought the standard staples- lettuce, cheese, turkey, blueberries, bananas, and yogurt. We ate a few streets away at a local park. 

A town official came over to chat and made sure we knew we could get water and use the bathrooms in the town office across the street. 

   During lunch we checked the weather as we had heard there were thunderstorms predicted. Indeed, there was severe weather alerts for our area, so Justin made sure neither Dave nor I tried to take a nap and we were off. Our  route now took us north into South Dakota. 

     We took one break in  Batesland, SD.

Although this place doesn't look like much, it was truly an oasis. The heat and humidity had been getting to us and this place was very well air conditioned. We bought some drinks and had a seat at a small table set up inside. 

The proprietor was a very nice woman who was originally from SD but lived for many years in Seattle.  She wanted to hear about our trip and in exchange gave us route and weather advice.  It was then that we received NWS alerts on our phones and we started riding again to beat the storm to Martin, SD. We could see the storm coming but we were successful in avoiding it.

Because of the flash flood warnings we stayed in a motel in town instead of the campsite by the river. There were few good options for food in town, so we hit the grocery store, bought some healthy food and a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and were in for the night. We have to get to bed early as we have a long ride tomorrow (142 miles) and we lose an hour crossing from Mountain into Central time. 


At about 5 am, thunderstorms rolled in and woke us up. Strong rain and lightning flashes were reason enough to keep us in our tent until about 7 am. After a quick stop at McDonalds for breakfast (literally the only thing open), we finally hit the road around 9 - the latest start yet. There appeared to be a shortcut on the map which avoided a major freeway, so we decided to take it. Unfortunately, about 6 miles in, we discovered it turned to a dirt road. After yesterday, we vowed to avoid unpaved roads at all costs and turned around. After searching for an alternative route around the freeway, we finally started making forward progress at 10:20 am. In the picture below, you can see us getting onto pavement (yes, even when trying to avoid it, dirt roads kept finding us) and heading east!

The day quickly turned hot, but there was little time for frequent stops. We powered in to Lusk, WY for a lunch stop after about 59 miles. We bought a hefty serving and spread out in the local park to pack it in. 

Given our late start, it was already 3:15 by the time we departed Lusk, heading toward Nebraska. Unfortunately, we began experiencing strong cross winds. We altered our typical straight draft pattern to fly more like geese migrating. This worked well, but taking up the whole lane required frequent spotting for cars behind us. 

The scenery was particularly boring today. Maybe we have been spoiled? 

But we did eventually make it to Nebraska! Finally, we are officially in the Midwest! 

At this point in the day, the winds became stronger and now directly east to west, causing a brutal headwind. Our pace markedly decreased, and the day continued to drag on. A much needed long downhill brought us near our destination. 

Finally, after several hours of unexpected extra time on the saddle, we made it to Fort Robinson after 121.6 miles, where Don's sister Diane made a reservation for us at the local lodge. We were more than excited, especially on an exhausting day like today, to be inside and sleeping on real beds. 

We showered, ate some simple but awesome food at the restaurant in the lodge - and headed to bed. The sun caught up with us today, so we will be sure to be using tons of sunblock tomorrow, when we wake up early and do it all again. :)