Tag Archives: bikeusa

Bike USA: Pho found, trip over! (written by Max)

Have we found Heaven? No, we’ve found pho. Tears of joy welled up in eye as we approached “Vietnamese Asian Restaurant” in Omaha, Nebraska. Oh sweet pho, how I love thee. We entered a pocket of Vietnam, complete with pink plastic bathroom chairs, martial arts soap operas, bucket of chopsticks, and flip flops. The only things missing were the humidity, wall fans, and the never quite dry concrete floor. Can’t have everything I guess. The food smacked us with authenticity which made this whole quest worth it. Even the tricolored bean jelly drink was right on. Who knew Nebraska would have this many Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Chinese? There was even an Oriental Market next door with Korean instant noodles. Hallelujeh, our week’s diet has been determined!

Vietnamese Asian Restaurant
We’re staying in Omaha.

Tomorrow we visit the Omaha Zoo. We hear it’s better than Disneyland. Saturday there is a bike convention in Council Bluffs, and then RAGBRAI starts. Apparently it is a 15,000 person bike party through the entire state of Iowa. Then to Chicago’s Wizard World comic book convention! Parteeeeee!

nice penguin

(Pho is Vietnamese rice noodle soup. If you haven’t had it, you should try it with beef tendon and tripe!)

Bike USA: Norfolk posse

Since we wanted to join RAGBRAI, we had to slow our trip down thru Nebraska. We stayed in Norfolk for an extra day. We basically hung out at their public library and read some books and mags. I would have checked email, but they installed censorware which didn’t allow telnet access. After hours at the library we went to watch X-men. Outside the theater, we met a whole slew of BMX bikers. They talked us up really well. My favorite line went something like, “Damn, look at those tan lines. You were really white. If we biked from Portland would we be Asian, too?” After the movie, we saw them again at a park and three of them asked if they could bike with us.

The Norfolk kids’ bikes weren’t as tricked out as this one found during RAGBRAI…

And so we had an escort thru town by pretty cool teens on single speed BMXs, a couple of them missing a brake or having a broken saddle or headset. And they were all over the streets, blocking traffic like good delinquents should. They took us to a Chinese restaurant, but it was closed by then. We lit some crazyass panda bear fireworks. They were pretty cool – bright and nice; the kids, that is. I hope we planted seeds in their heads to take up bike touring, and I hope that before they go, they learn some road rules. 🙂

Bike USA: July 10-20, 2000 – Wall Drug, Badlands, Kadoka, Murdo, Valentine, Norfolk, Fremont, Omaha

Wall Drug Dinosaur
Wall Drug Dinosaur
All roads lead to Wall Drug
All roads lead to Wall Drug
Movie of Wall Drug’s T-rex
Movie of the Chen Brothers’ $5 version

We left Rapid City and made it to Wall on the 10th. We saw the first highway signs for Wall Drug way back in the middle of Wyoming. By the time we got to Rapid City, we’d see one every fifteen minutes or so. Wall Drug was everything I thought it would be. Kitschy and cheesy and pretty fun. On the way to Wall we stopped by Olde Glory Fireworks and bought a whole arsenal to mail to our friend Grey. You have to wait for us Gray!

Movie of Chen brothers’ MI2
flying a kite in the Badlands
flying a kite in the Badlands

From Wall, we followed the Badlands Loop Highway, which is a nice 30 mile loop through the Badlands. While checking out the Badlands, we saw a yuppie couple with full-on biking gear, including clipless pedals and camelbacks, sunglasses and biking shorts, posing for photos of each other at a lookout point. They then rode about 20 feet to their sporty SUV and put the bikes away and changed out of their gear. I could not see any trails nearby, so I can only assume they totally faked biking in the Badlands. I hope Max and I put them to shame.

Prairie dog
Prairie dog
staying in Kadoka
staying in Kadoka

The road to Murdo turned out to be a disaster. My rear tire exploded and there was no way to fix it, but luckily a really nice guy named Doug pulled over and offered me a ride to Murdo which was 12 miles down as I was walking my bike. In Murdo, we checked out the Pioneer Auto Museum and then spent 3 hours trying to deal with my tire situation. A couple of the locals we met at gas stations and at the museum helped us out by calling everyone in town about a spare tire. No one had one! We sat at a gas station in the blazing heat holding up a sign that said that we needed a ride to Valentine. That wasn’t quite working so we moved to the other side of the highway away from town hoping to catch people as they got off the intersection. That didn’t work either. So then we waited at the gas station again and tried to find some RV people with bikes that we could buy a tire off of. That finally worked after a big hassle. Too big for this log. [Mark’s post trip note: for a clue what the big hassle was all about, read the very last paragraph of the final entry.] I was very tired by the end of the day.

The General Lee
The General Lee
parking reserved
crazy tire difference

The road from Murdo towards Valentine was pretty nice except for the heat. In White River (was that the name?) we decided to wait a few hours due to the heat and ended up playing some billiards. Thru Mission and to the Rosebud Casino was pretty fun. We had been warned by a few people about biking with expensive gear thru an Indian reservation, but it actually turned out really nice. It seemed to me that all the natives we met were really laid back and liked to joke around. We ended up staying at the Casino which had the world’s smallest swimming pool and the world’s largest 4 women.

freakin Nebraska!
nice sunset

The next day we got to Valentine and got me a new set of tires. Then we waited until late and biked during the night until I hit gravel and wiped out. That’s when we camped.

The next day it hit me: we’re in freakin Nebraska! Never in my life did I think I’d ever be in Nebraska. Over the next couple of days I’d come to realize that Nebraska has been the most enjoyable state to bike thru not including Oregon. Almost every town has a free city park, many with either a pool or showers.

Mark’s post trip note: We had originally dropped down to Valentine from Murdo so that we could take part of the country’s longest rail to trail, the Cowboy Trail, all the way to Norfolk and then get to Omaha somehow. Max had already seen the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, so we felt like we could skip out of that kitschy feature. Unfortunately, the Cowboy Trail wasn’t as fun as we would have liked. It was a little too rough for our liking, but would have been awesome if we had knobbier tires. By the time we hit the C & O Canal Towpath in Maryland, we had switched tires and had a blast.

Mark’s post trip note 2: Norfolk was pretty cool, but smelly as all heck because it is next to some cow rendering plants. Fremont is nice and we were able to go canoeing for half a day.

We’ve met a whole bunch of other bikers all throughout our journey to Omaha from Murdo. All of them are going to Council Bluffs in Iowa to join 15,000 others in a ride across the state called RAGBRAI. We’ve decided to ride along for at least the first few days.

Now we are in Omaha. Gonna check out the zoo.

Bike USA: Betty Rubble (written by Max)

A word about Bedrock City, South Dakota. There was a great sarcastic train engineer/guide who led us on a hilarious dinosaur safari, but it didn’t make up for the big disappointment of not being able to fulfill my lifelong fantasy to court the sweet mother of Bam Bam. Apparently I am not alone, because although we shook hands with Fred and Barney, and had our way with Wilma, the luscious Betty was locked away in a bedrock house. Woe is me.

Wilma and Betty and Max

I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming of the black haired vixen I left behind.

Bike USA: Fireflies (written by Max)

A field aglow with fireflies for miles of riding. That’s what we witnessed the night out of Valentine, Nebraska. Due to the incredible daytime heat and my growing deranged lust for frozen entities, we decided to bike only in the early morning and dusk. After meeting a Race Across America competitor at the Valentine bike shop Yucca Dune, we hit the cooling Cowboy Trail. The trail will be the longest rail to trail conversion in the US when completed. Right now mainly a bunch of bridges are finished, but boy was that first one impressive. 150 feet above the river. Neato.

Movie of a typical Cowboy Trail Bridge

As night descended we entered reed fields. I saw just a few flashes at first but soon the entire roadside was a miniature lantern festival. Unfortunately the air was full of other bugs as well and I think I inhaled and ate quite a few. That night we just pulled off the side of the road and were eaten alive by blood suckers. The inside of the tent became a blood smeared mess like in some slasher movie.

Bike USA: Having fun (written by Max)

It has come to my attention that many other NBG riders have decided to call it quits and go home. I wondered why my brother and I have been casually continuing. We are riding to D.C. for fun, to see sites, to meet people, and lastly to make it to the rally. We have hitchhiked some of the way and will probably take a train from Chicago to Pittsburgh because of a comic book convention and a medieval battle called Pennsic. The ride is not a daily rigorous ritual to test our endurance or commitment, it’s to have a good time. I think some others were taking the final goal too seriously and not really enjoying where they were at the time. Granted, we did not suffer 100 plus degree heat and we often stay at motels with swimming pools. We started by getting up around 10am and only rode until 5 or 6. Basically, we’re taking it easy and are willing to adapt to our terrain, weather, and sites. When body parts hurt we rest and try to adjust the bikes to alleviate them. We take Advil. I just wonder if the others were entering their ride with the wrong attitude, that’s all.

black clouds
black clouds

I’d kill for a bowl of pho.

Bike USA: Roadkill and wildlife (written by Max)

We’ve seen roaming buffalo and playing deer and antelope, but a lot of the wildlife we’ve witnessed has been dead. In a car, roadkill is seen for an instance and maybe smelled for a moment. On a bike we get an up close and personal look at massacred deer, cats, dogs, skunks, prairie dogs, snakes, birds, turtles, mice, rabbits, crickets, and mysterious flat things. The last couple states have been quite arid and the only smells have been cow manure and decomposition. Depending on the wind we could smell the bodies for a good couple minutes before coming across the intestine bursting corpse.

Mark’s note: the craziest thing is that with about 75% accuracy (50% being the norm), we could identify if the corpse was antelope or deer by the smell alone.

Some cars don’t give us this much berth.

all that wasted meat.

Bike USA: Heat stroke (written by Max)

part one.

In the past week, temperatures have been soaring in the nineties. I’ve sweat at least my body weight and have started seeing hallucinations of ten foot prairie dogs. I’ve lost all lust for women but am left with a puzzling craving to hug a snowman. Oh Frosty, you and your luscious lobed body is welcome in my arms anytime. Me, Frosty, a tutu, a bagpipe, and a meat locker. I could wear the tutu while you could play Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies on the pipes. We could be happy forever. Or until I become a frozen ballerina. Holy flying buffalo Batman, I’ve completely lost it.

part two.

New game plan. The next gas station quickie mart I’m going to get me a bag’o’ice. I’m going to go into the bathroom and make sweet love to that bag’o’ice.

part three.

in the shade of a tree I’m going to roll out a tarp and dump out that bag’o’ice. I’m going to roll myself into a tarp ice person HoHo. oh yeah.

part four.

found a lake. cooled off. but I’ll never forget you Frosty, or you my sweet bag’o’ice.


Bike USA: Found items

We keep finding interesting things along the highway, other than the usual roadkill and beer bottles.

The next most common thing would have to be toys. So far, I’ve picked up 3 toys along the road, brand new practically… At the next rest area or town, I donate the toy to the first kid I see. I think Santa should check in on this. One day we found a whole string of toys, mostly half-naked dolls, My Little Ponies, and broken McDonald’s Disney toys. Among them, though, we found a beanie baby with the tag still on. Maybe it will fund the rest of our trip. I imagine a mother or, more likely, a father got frustrated at their kid and threw all the toys out of the car…

We’ve also found magazines. I would love to find Bike or Computer Games, but instead, we’ve only come up with porn. I guess that’s cool too. Brand new too, it seems, except without covers… Kinda kinky fetish stuff, though… I’m not sure I’m into some of that, but I guess by the end of the trip I might be.

Things we refuse to pick up, besides the trash and empty soda containers, are clothes. I can only think of the worst when I imagine why the clothes were tossed. Most of them are baby type of clothes… nasty ewey stuff maybe… (Hey Nate, congrats on the poo-factory you fathered!)

Bike USA: Max’s mean streak (written by Max)

So I couldnt help it anymore. There is a type of American that isn’t found often in metropolitan areas. We’ll call them RV guppies. Sometimes it is a retired couple, sometimes a family of seven in an enormous monstrosity called the Resident or the Land Whale. They drive like they have Parkinson’s and the last thing you want them to do is take a hand off the steering wheel to wave at you. It’s just a strange way to travel-to bring your entire house with you. If you need a satellite dish to travel and you never leave the vehicle at the vistapoints, what is the point? Just rent the video!

oh yeah…

When they see us they think we are crazy and say, “I could never do anything like that.” Well if you say that, you are probably right. [ed note: Lisa, a cyclist we met, always replied with, “Well, have you tried anything difficult in your life?”] Plus they often could lose a few pounds, like 200 or so. If they lost weight they could probably save money on mileage. Their skeletons must be saying “help me!”

There is a subspecies of RV guppies who we’ve met at the infamous Wall Drug. I wanted to go up them, point, pause, and yell, “You ugly!” Darwin obviously never studied middle America. Okay I’m done being mean.