05/31 (Day 42)
I awoke at 6:00 and stepped out the door into a beautiful Kansas morning. I took the morning to get caught up online and organized my gear that never ceases to get unorganized. For the first time in a while I made a fire to prepare myself breakfast and I cooked up a dish of potatoes from way back in Steamboat Springs with mushrooms and corn. It kept my hunger, which is back in full force, satisfied for a few hours at most. On the road at 10:30 and it was a hot one.
It took a while to get out of Lincoln and I pedaled close to ten miles through the residential neighborhoods before coming out on the north side of town. I stopped to admire some huge wind turbines create electricity out of thin air and then was into the farmland. I missed my turn northeast onto highway 6 and continued north on the farm road for a few miles before realizing it. This added about 5 miles onto the trip to Omaha but I didn’t mind for many reasons namely the pleasant road to ride on, the fresh air to breathe, and the sun shining upon me.
Highway 6 took me to Ashland, Nebraska, which I just had to explore since I am from Ashland, Wisconsin. This was my first time being in any Ashland other than my hometown. This Ashland was about the quarter of the size of mine at 2,500 residents and the business street was called Silver Street rather than Main Street my Ashland. There were plenty of differences between the two cities and I enjoyed comparing them. Just after Ashland I got the idea of testing out my next sustainability campaign, Stand up for Sustainability. I’m removing the seat from my bike and trekking across the state of Iowa standing up. The combination of my bare feet and the lack of a seat was quite exhausting and a majority of the muscles throughout my body were burning all day. It appears that it might be more of an upper body and core workout than legs but with that being said my calves were burning pretty bad too. The trial led me all the way into Omaha for 40 miles of barefooted standing up riding but not before I stopped at a grocery store dumpster in Gretna and scored about 20 good apples and bread to last me a few days. I found enough food, much of it not even expired yet, to feed about 50 families for the day. I filled up a box full of bread and brought it across the street to an apartment complex where I gave it to a lady who said she’d put it out for the residents. I don’t imagine what I found in that dumpster was an uncommon occurrence.
In Omaha I found a nice city park with a pond where I cooled off from the heat of the day and cleansed myself from the sweat I was covered in. It felt beyond incredible to float in the cool man made pond. Navigating Omaha was pretty miserable and the streets were in horrible condition to navigate by bike. Potholes and bumps were everywhere and shoulders on the roads were non-existent. I was happy to reach the apartment of our CouchSurfing.org host and collapsed onto the couch quite exhausted after the 60-mile hill filled day.
Chrisane was eager to walk downtown to meet up with some friends so after quickly posting my blog for yesterday we walked down. It was a pleasurable barefoot walk and the evening was beautiful. She insisted I would not need shoes to get into the patio of this restaurant and I was very pleased with that. We met a handful of her friends and at first it was enjoyable to hang out with them but after not too long I lost interest and went out to explore the area on my own. Downtown Omaha was littered with drunkenness, cigarette smoking, and I would say general stupidity. It seemed most people were pretty intent on wasting a whole lot of time, energy, and money on useless junk and copious amounts of alcohol. I must admit I was once at that point in my life while in university and I am very thankful to have learned from it and to be past it. I met back up with the group at another bar and found myself in mundane conversation. Eventually I got up and walked back to the house on my own around midnight and went to bed at 1:30 after spending some productive time online to makeup for the last couple of nearly useless hours I had just had.
Today ended the Barefootin’ for Sustainability campaign. I pedaled 653 barefoot miles over the past 11 days from Denver, Colorado to Omaha, Nebraska. A total of $1.19 per mile was pledged between 19 people, which means I raised $777 from my barefoot riding.
06/01 (Day 43)
Holy Macaroly it’s June. June! What happened to April and May? Staying up until 1:30 when I knew I’d awake at 6:00 was a bad idea, as I knew it would be. I was lethargic and my movements were retarded, and I mean that in the literal sense not the way we use the word today. I had decided yesterday to take today as a rest day and so I spent the morning being productive while not riding a bike, which is my version of resting. My computer was still charged from the sun, as I hadn’t used it much last night so I was able to spend the morning online.
Before noon I headed down to the farmers market and was excited to score some fresh local food. It is still early on in the season so it was somewhat slim pickings but I managed to get some spinach, mustard greens, radishes, rhubarb, honey, and tomatoes. All of it was exquisite and the juicy ripe tomatoes were from Graddy’s Great Tasting Tomatoes and Fresh Salsa farm in Carroll, Iowa where they have 9,000 tomato plants in green houses and grow lettuce via aquaponics. It sounds like they run a very productive and sustainable organic operation. Then I popped over to Greenstreet Cycles to get some work done on my bike. They tuned it up, put on a new chain, fixed the derailer, and I got a water bottle holder for the back of the trailer where I will keep my sprouting jar. Now I have a convenient spot to always be sprouting wheat berries, an excellent source of nutrition. Green Street was an excellent bike shop and I spent three hours hanging out with the five staff members there. They run their business extremely responsibly when it comes to the environment and are doing their part to create a happier healthier planet.
They don’t have a free residential recycling program in Omaha, a city of nearly a half million people, and this boggles my mind. This is America and we don’t even have it together enough to have a recycling program in a city that is in the top 50 largest cities. It’s understandable to not have a recycling program in a tiny town way out in the middle of nowhere but as educated as we are in this country I find it amazing that we haven’t managed to implement recycling nationwide. Here at Greenstreet Cycles though they are doing their part to make Lincoln a healthy city. Up until recently they would haul 300-400 pounds of recyclables to the recycling plant five miles away via bicycle. That is dedication. Now it’s only a five to ten minute ride but you still have to pay to get the city to take the recyclables even as a resident. They are excellent at reusing material here at Greenstreet and they donate most old parts to the community bike project here in town that works with neighborhood kids and provides free bike maintenance training. Every employee commutes to work via bike and they estimate the average employee bikes fifty miles perk week for commuting purposes. All the lights in the building are LED lights, which use as much as ten times less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs. An example of reusing that they do is taking old bike handle bar tape and using it as handle grips for tools. A great thing they do is hold clinics to advocate commuting via cycling for large corporations. They hold competitions between corporations here in Omaha to see whose employees can commute the most via cycle and apparently it is quite competitive. One guy even commutes sixty-five miles per day for work. More important than the individual impact he has via commuting is the inspiration he provides to hundreds of people to bike their couple of miles each way if he can do sixty-five. Be amazing and you’ll help to create more amazing people!
By the time I got out of there it was a little after 4:00 and I felt like the day had slipped away from me. It was a cold and gloomy day and that combined with a lack of sleep had me feeling a tad on the depressed side. I returned back to the apartment and consolidated the things in my trailer, which I’d like to have as light as possible for this upcoming challenge across the state of Iowa. Now it is 6:30 and since the sun did not shine today my computer will be dying shortly. With that as the case I will spend some time laying on the soft floor stretching out and I will go to bed before the sun goes down. It is so hard to believe that in just about eight or nine days I will be in my homeland. It’s seemed like such a far off destination but after pedaling 2,170 miles I am nearing Wisconsin. This portion of the trip may be the part I have been most excited for. I always love to return to The Dairy State.
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