It had been a few years since I’d been on the Oak Creek trail, so when the opportunity came to ride it again, how could I resist? Especially after missing out this year on the Good Life Gravel Gran Fondo. I traded the beautiful Loess hills of Iowa for the also impressive Bohemian Alps of the Valparaiso-Loma-Brainard area. Monkey Wrench Cycles is sponsoring a weekly unorganized ride to Loma with two routes, one 14 mile round trip from the trail head in Valparaiso and a longer 66 mile one from Lincoln until fall, but we created our own. Sign in and buy something at the tavern and you will be entered in a weekly drawing of prizes from the shop. While you’re there make sure you take a loop around the (very small) town. To add more hills and make it a metric century as was the gran fondo, we added on a bit and circled up from the southwest of Lincoln, taking note of the still mainly empty Conestoga Lake, closed for deepening.
From there up the ever-popular-with-cyclists W 98th St. to Malcolm for a quick break and then on up the east side of Branched Oak Lake. I always like lake tours. Above Branched Oak you really start to notice a difference in terrain, as the hills get bigger. An especially nice hilly area is around the Meadowlark wildlife management area. Eventually we met up with the trail a mile or so outside Loma and rolled on in for lunch at the Loma Tavern, where their motto is “A Little Piece Of Yesterday.” Yes, they have polkas on the jukebox. Czech it out on Facebook at Loma Tavern. It is under new management and is much more inviting than the last time I was there.
The Oak Creek Trail is a rails to trails conversion from an old Union Pacific line. I’ve taken it in the past to Brainard, but this time we just went to Loma and took the trail back to Valparaiso, then rode back to Lincoln. One of these times I’ll go back looking for the tiny ghost town of Rescue I once saw not far from Prague on an abandoned rail line.
On other trail news, everyone who rides through the tunnel at 1st and J is happy about this progress. No more scary dungeon.
So enjoy! And try to keep coolish riding in this weather.