May 26, 2013: A Girl and Her Bike

My bike and my knee handled my fall quite well
This blog is going to read like a school paper. One about "How I spent my Sunday". I kind of felt like a school girl today, so it is fitting. I will preface my school work by disclosing that I did bite it on my ride. Thanks to Dr. Brown for banning me from my clipped biking shoes. My agility with running shoes saved me from further injury no doubt.

My adventure started at noon today. After noting no rain in the forecast until late afternoon, I decided on a long bike ride. Pulling up the metro trail map, I felt adventurous; wanting to try something new. Downtown was luring me. Looking East, I saw what appeared to be a trail running down past the zoo. With lots of downtown riverfront trails, I knew I wouldn't be at a loss for where to ride. Destination Downtown.

With bike packed and gear stowed, I trekked by car across town. Parking at Heartland of America Park, I was immediately reminded of the many Rotary bike rides I put on there so many years ago. Good memories. A stroll through the Con Agra playground and I quickly noted that I was on a trail designated only for walkers. No bicycles. On the wrong trail and unable to find the right trail, I was lost five minutes into my adventure.

Photo 1
I improvised by deciding to venture through the south Omaha neighborhoods. Hugging the east side, I thought I would be bound to find the missing trail. South on 6th, I stumbled into Little Italy of Omaha. As I drove by Caniglia Ave, a man resembling Uncle Junior from the Soprano's drove by me and waved. The smell of garlic bread and spaghetti filled the city block. Either a restaurant was near by or someone was expecting a lot of Sunday lunch guests.

Photo 2
Noting some train tracks to cross and what appeared to be a trail in the horizon, I took Hickory to where the numbered streets stopped (photo 1). Crossing the tracks and passing a sign indicating that I was on video, I rode up to the paved road. An older gentleman in jean shorts with no bike helmet was lifting his bike over a metal barrier. He reminded me of Garrett's dad. I immediately liked him.

"Are we not allowed on the trail?" I asked. "Just lift your bike over like me" was his answer. So I did. There were two signs on that stretch of trail that indicated trespassing would be prosecuted. Something about a levee. I was parallel to the river and saw no signs of damage or flooding (photo 2). Besides, the nice man told me it was okay. I did feel a little sinful in my breaking of the rules, but all was forgotten when I eyed the Desert Dome at the zoo. I had never enjoyed the zoo from this vantage point before (photo 3).

Photo 3
After an uneasy feeling about the presence of a desolate parked Cadillac with dark tinted windows, I noticed the "Welcome to Omaha" UP locomotives at Lauritzen Gardens (photo 4). Again, a view that I had never experienced. The Cadillac caused me no harm. Probably fishing. Who was I to judge?
Photo 4

Just before venturing back to Hickory, two young boys crossed the tracks. One, who appeared to be only fourteen, was shirtless with a cursive word tattooed across his chest. The child at his side had a lip malformation that obviously was never fixed. I gave them a cheery "Hey, guys. How's it going?" They responded with equal pleasantries. I wondered if they looked at me and thought "another one from the wrong side of the tracks". The definition of the wrong side really depends on which vantage point you are looking from.
Photo 5

The next cruise was through the Old Market. It was so tempting to grab an outside table at one of the spectacular restaurants and enjoy a cup of coffee or mimosa. I have always wanted to do that with bike in tow. But I resisted the temptation and headed for the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge instead. I noted immediately the statue at Lewis and Clark Landing (photo 5). This was completely engulfed in water when the river flooded three years ago. The river is a beast. Those were scary times. But not today. The river was our friend today.

Photo 6
The bridge was full of family and Sunday walkers. I was curious to go over to the Iowa side and check out the new Hanafan Park. It was just opened with much hoopla and a Beach Boys concert. Very nice, CB. The nice man at the gate told me the Symphony would be playing at 8 followed by fireworks. I will definitely be back to this venue. I love the sight of Downtown Omaha in the background (photo 6).

There were many bashes planned on the river this weekend based on the signage and set-ups happening. I followed the river to Abbott Drive, anxious to get some miles in. Boats were out in fierce force as well. I remembered having a boat once. As I sat on the boat, I always envied the people I saw out on their bikes. We all have our "thing", don't we?

Photo 7
As I whipped through Carter Lake, I noted my popular stop of the airport (photo 7). Always seeming to be in a hurry in route, I have never paid much attention to the trail running parallel. Matt did take me on this trail on Memorial Day a few years ago. I haven't been back since. I like this ride. It was a mistake waiting so long.

Now is the part where I bit it. After recognizing familiar territory from running the Omaha Half in years past and then finding myself riding under the Mormon Bridge, I was doing too much sight-seeing without enough attention to the road. After passing Dodge Park, but before the Surfside turn, I clipped the side of the trail and tumbled. On my left side. That would be my bad knee. I cushioned it well and only suffered scrapes and minor bleeding.

After a quick call to my ever-resourceful biker boyfriend, Garrett, I was talked through getting my chain back on track. This was at mile eighteen. Determined to complete my long ride, back on the saddle I went. The trek north was stunning with many hills and beautiful farmland. Grades reached 5% and 9%. Who says we don't have hills in Nebraska?

I chatted a bit with two Washington County deputies. I felt safer after they assured me of no known mountain lions or escaped prisoners. The planted fields, parked tractors, and colorful wildflowers felt like home to me (photo 8). I loved to ride my bike on the country roads as a young girl. Thirty-some years ago, this was probably the same way I spent my Memorial Day weekend, on my bike in the middle of nowhere.

So that's my story. That's what I did this Sunday. I logged in 44 miles and burned 1,689 calories. My Pandora entertained me with everything from Sublime to Johnny Cash and the Eagles. I saw some new sights and also old ones, but from a different perspective. I thought about life, felt like a child again, and survived my first post-new-ACL fall. Lastly I want to thank Dr. Brown for my new ACL. It works perfectly...nice work!

Photo 8


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