If you thought you saw more out-of-state vehicles transporting bikes this last weekend in Lincoln, you would be correct. Gravel Worlds, Lincoln’s annual 150 mile bicycle gravel race around Lincoln was Saturday. Participants came from around the country to suffer up some of our local hills and roll down in loose gravel while riding into a 25+ mph headwind. It was fun, really! That might not be the kind of riding that interests you, but we all have our own idea of a challenge. For some it may be getting up the nerve to ride in the street. For another, gathering speed enough to shift onto the big ring is an accomplishment. Maybe it’s going on a 15 mile bike ride or making it to (or from) work in a new record time. It’s a challenge if it’s something you’d like to accomplish but haven’t yet, even if it’s just aspiring to better riding skills.
In my commuting life, I get excited and challenged when I am called out on jobs that create new routes. Working all over the city, I get to test out trails and street connections to see which get me as quickly and safely as possible to where I need to be. Last week I hit the jackpot with a commute from a site near 98th and Highway 2 all the way to the Highlands. It was the longest direct one-way commute I’d had come up yet, 15 miles, and virtually all trail! I’ll admit I was lucky the sites happened to be so close to major trails, but what a ride! I even included the new northern extension of the Jamaica North trail from Haymarket Park to 14th street by the Devany center, though it was slightly longer than rimming the north edge of UNL campus as I usually do. I had few stop lights, many underpasses, and little interaction with traffic, which meant I got to ride almost straight through with very few stops.
I know the localized closings of the Rock Island and Billy Wulff trails will make the area of 27th and Capitol Parkway, a major trail hub, a bit annoying for a while, but I don’t think it will be a major detour. If you want a little more challenge, find another route. Sometimes what looks like a longer ride on the map doesn’t take more time, and sometimes the view or another aspect of the longer route makes it worthwhile. Enjoy your ride. Find your challenge. That’s why we do it.