Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Very Good Day In Omaha

One thing that is clear is that this part of the country is Nebraska Cornhusker territory. My sense is that there is as much feeling for the Huskers as there is the for Ohio State Buckeyes back home. It is tough not to find somebody near by wearing some red/white/black N or Big Red clothing. I even saw several shirts with pics of the National Champ rings that Nebraska won --those have to be some old tshirts but folks are still wearing them.

While exploring Omaha we came across this magnificent cathedral called St. Cecilia
it is or was one of the top 10 biggest in the country. From what I understand it has a world class organ and there is an organ festival tomorrow but we will miss it because the RAGBRAI starts in the morning.

The inside of St. Cecelia is impressive. It is tough to capture with a camera what can be seen with the eye.

This is The Molecule Man in Council Bluffs Iowa which is directly across the Missouri River from Omaha. This is where the Ragbrai bike ride starts tomorrow morning. Folks in C.B think this is kind of a big deal because it was built here by an internationally known sculptor, and it is very impressive up close.

Well Miss Sassy and I spent the day moseying around the area just looking at what there was to look at. It was very relaxing. We had a great meal at Famous Dave's barbecue (the only place for ribs since they fed me for free in Bismarck or somewhere back down the line that I can not remember right now). The menu was a natural. Besides some ribs I had the Sassy salad and Miss Sassy had the Sassy BBQ salmon ( I am not making up these names, but they had to see us coming). Sassy also had a large Dave's Smokin Iced Tea and anyone who knows Miss Sassy knows that post drink she turns into something completely different than she was pre drink . Firewater has affected many Native Americans over the years and Miss Sassy fits right in, but at least she becomes a happy Sassy molassy and is pretty easy to herd out of the restaurant and into the van.

One thing that struck me while dining at Famous Dave's is the theme of EAT LIKE A PIG, which is plastered all over the place, and from what I could see about everyone was heeding the call. But when you stop to think about it you are really eating dead pig, which may or may not fit into the catagory of irony depending on how one interprets the word irony. In any case I do not think that a slogan of EAT DEAD PIG LIKE A PIG would have quite as much punch as the one they currently use.
Anyway I did not dwell on this very long because I was wearing a light colored shirt and as per usual having to really concentrate to keep from looking like a dalmation with red sauce spots all over me. I did a pretty fair job today but as those customer friendly librarians at Worch Memorial have mentioned(in a nice way) on more than one occasion, any kind of astute observer can pretty much figure out what I have eaten during the time I have worn any particular shirt. It is a curse that I fight every day no matter what I am eating and to date it has been a losing battle.

We ended the day at the Ragbrai center of activity in Council Bluffs and it was amazing the number of bike riders and tents in that area. This is a huge deal and you can tell folks are getting pumped.
Personally I have mixed emotions right now, yes I am into riding across Iowa that will be a good trip, but the 10,000 others that will be doing it with me will be quite a change from the Lone Ranger(that is the model of my bike) the last 7 weeks.
Riding these big organized rides is pretty new for me. The only other one I have done is this years TOSRV which is the Tour Of The Scioto River Valley at the beginning of May. This was riding the 100 miles from Columbus to Portsmouth Ohio on a Saturday and then riding back the following day. I used this as a training ride for my trip and went fully loaded with trailer and all the fixings. To top it off there was a head wind BOTH WAYS that particular weekend. I know I packed/carted more total poundage that weekend than anyone else who made that ride, and I will bet I burnt more calories than any other 2 riders .
Now everyone else on that ride had a sag trailer pack their tents and other gear back and forth so they were riding with minimal baggage, so it was not a fair comparison but I can say that of the 2000 riders I was slower than 1996 of them. I started early both days and was passed by all but a few during the day. It was brutal mentally because I had been training since March 1 and felt pretty good about myself as a biker. That is when I started to have doubts about whether i could do this trip from coast to coast or if I should even try it.
I am plodder of a biker anyway and even though I can go all day it still beats you up that you can not keep up with riders that could very possibly be your biological parents or your biological grand kids.

So here I am again but the situation is different. I have ridden over 2200 miles pulling a lot of weight and am confident I can finish the ride to Washington DC. so no matter what happens I will not be as beat up as I was after TOSRV. Also,Miss Sassy is serving as my personal sag wagon in that she will be carrying all my gear and the trailer so I will see what it is like to ride like everyone else. I have only ridden maybe 20 miles so far w/o a full load and that was around towns and not over the road. I am anxious to see how I do.

I know I will never be a real biker in the sense that the spandex makers will always laugh at me and I will not win any type of speed competition but I am gaining confidence in being able to work through a long ride and finish it in good enough shape to be ready to ride again the next day.

For anyone wanting to know more about the RGBRAI here are the details

Btw--the Lewis and Clark Trail part of this trip ends for me tomorrow--the real route goes from Council Bluffs down the Missouri a ways and then follows the river across Misouri to St. Louis and ends there. L/C are history (so to speak) but I can say I learned a great deal about them and the area they traversed than I ever thought possible. I am still absorbing stuff from that part of the ride, but tomorrow is a new day and I look forward to seeing what there is to see the rest of the way.
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