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March 2017 - To the border and back

At least once a year, a group pedals to the Kansas border and back. This known sufferfest usually happens in March, which in Nebraska, is a truly blustery month where the wind whips, mornings crack with subfreezing cold, but afternoons feel hot in the 70s. This year was no exception. We met up at Meadowlark Coffee on 17th & South and rolled out in the dark, illuminating the quiet streets with brilliant headlamps. The frosty chill required gloves, arm and leg warmers, and several wore jackets.  I did not and tried to drive the pace a little to stay warm.

We took the Homestead Trail to Beatrice, which turns into Standing Bear Trail which takes you right to the Kansas border where it turns into the Blue River Trail.

This was my first big ride of the season, but I'd been doing a lot of "sweet spot" training (Tempo-Threshold steady efforts) in February, so even though I hadn't spent a lot of time on the saddle, I was confident I could do a flattish hundy at endurance pace. I say flat because the first half was pan flat. In fact, if you are looking to take someone new to riding on a long outing, consider these trails, especially April-August when the wind will be at your back on the return. However, we didn't return via the trails. Instead, the 30 mph afternoon wind pushed us back. We flew down the hills at fearsome speeds, and the wind's helping push up the hills made us feel uncommonly strong and fast. The only problem was the crosswind. Lighter than the rest, I was pushed into the ditch twice. After that, whenever we had to ride west or east, I huddled on the lea side of bigger riders, matching their pace with care and careful not to waver my line as we were only an inch or two apart.

We did the 127 miles in 9.5 hours riding time, 11 and change overall. Enjoyed lunch and quite a few little refueling breaks. All in all, the annual rite was a great way to kick off the outdoor riding season and be reminded of how awesome my bike friends are.

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