Thoughts on the road


Yesterday the long and straight roads of Nebraska gave me plenty of opportunity to think about this trip.
I wanted to relive the Oregon Trail; ride where people traveled more than 150 years ago and try to see the land through their eyes. Now, a few days on the road, I noticed that it’s the people I meet on the way that make this trip interesting. Abraham Lincoln next to my bike, the people of Gardner that organise an expo on the Civil War, casual encounters on the campground. Or yesterday morning, when somebody bought a new blade for his cordless electrical saw, just because I needed to cut a piece of steel. Or the guy I talk to who has a sign on his front lawn that says ‘Fries’ and it turns out he has Dutch ancestors. Or James, whom I meet in Odessa, and who is restoring a huge concrete sculpture of two oxen in front of an enormous covered wagon. It’s these people that make this trip worthwhile. Not another grave, historical monument or replica of a military fort.

For this trip I intended to travel about 100 miles a day, but this turns out to be a little unrealistic. The past few days I have traveled a lot on dirt roads, exactly the roads that keep my average speed low, and on which it is a lot easier to stop and make photos. The hours just fly by. After a day of riding, I have to find a campground, look at all the visual material I have made and write a blog. The day is just too short and that means I have to reschedule. But how? By taking better roads? Or by not taking so many pictures, or stop to look at historical places on the way? Or maybe I shouldn’t spend so much time talking to people? It’s a terrible dilemma. And every option I consider feels as if I’m cheating, and that I’m not being true to all the initial plans I made for this trip.

Today I’ll be back on the road, and somehow, in the next couple of days days, I hope I will reach some sort of balance between history, land and people. We’ll see.