Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hey Nebraska, Please Define "Minimum Maintenance Road"

After a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner, Charlie and I decided to take advantage of the mid 50’s weather and loaded up the mountain bikes and headed over to Maskell, Nebraska to take off on the back roads. Now understand the route that I wanted to and was trying to do was the reverse of that we had just driven last week. That should set you up for yet another misadventure in mountain biking!

We headed south out of Maskell and I simply couldn’t remember how far that I had to go before turning, but I did remember it was a dirt road. We probably weren’t even a mile out of town when I seen a sign that said “Minimum Maintenance Road”: “Hey Charlie, we need to turn here!” Well, a perfectly quiet road turned interesting quickly. First we had to chase three cows back into their field. The humor of that quickly faded as our dirt road became a dirt path with grass in the middle. Shortly thereafter it became a grass path that farmers use, then basically "grass". We wound around to the point of not seeing much in the way of a path at all. “Minimum Maintenance Road” suddenly became “wandering across the open range”. The fear of not being totally sure that I could backtrack where we just came from kept us driving forward.

Finally I looked into the distance and seen a gravel road. Come hell or high water I was going to get to that road. Climbing to the top of the grassy hill I saw Highway 12 at the bottom which was a very welcome site. We had to throw our bikes over the barbed wire fence to get to the road but that seemed like a simple task after what we just rode. We took the highway to Obert and hopped on the gravel road that we were supposed to come in on. A couple good climbs later we were on our way down the correct dirt road. After chasing yet another cow back into the field (a rather large cow who made an impressive leap over the fence back into the field) we looped back into Maskell and loaded up the bikes to go home.

Although it was only a little over ten miles and a little less than an hour, it was still a great adventure. Our “out and back” ride ended up being a loop by accident, but loads of fun. I dare any of you to try to reproduce this ride exactly. Oh, and Nebraska: How about a sign that says "END of Minimum Maintenance Road"?!?!?!?!



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