Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pickstown, SD to Niobrara, NE - 63 miles

Flooding had forced an adjustment to the route to get to Niobrara, Nebraska and about half the group has decided that they didn't care for that option, so they went off the established route.
Frank H, Jessie A, John & Joann D, Hewes A, Paul G, Vicki L, Jeff M, Steve & Cynthia H have decided that they don't like the route adjustment to get to Niobrara, Nebraska, so they are going to go to Yankton, SD today and meet the group in Vermillion, SD on 7/10/11; completely bypassing the Niobrara, NE section of the route.

Sue M has graciously offered to help me today run the shuttle from Verdel, NE to Niobrara, NE which is over a dirt/packed gravel road as a result of road closures east and west of Niobrara, NE. Although it is not a paved surface, the detour/shuttle if ridden, only adds 1 mile to the listed mileage for the day.

Bill K took a tumble and scraped his elbow and arm. It is amazing what duck tape, baggies, ice and a towel can do! Nothing serious -- thank goodness...what would we do without Bennie and Wanda Sue stories?
The shuttle went well and even a couple of locals assisted in getting the bikes from Verdel, NE to Niobrara, NE.

The Village of Niobrara, NE is a small, progressive town, located in the far northern corner of Nebraska at the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers. It is the headquarters of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and home of Niobrara State Park. Native Americans gave the town its name, which means "running water".

Niobrara is one of the oldest towns in the state and is located directly on the Lewis & Clark Trail, is on the Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway and on the stretch federally designated as a recreational and scenic river. Niobrara is also known as one of the newest towns in the state because it was relocated twice due to the encroaching waters of the Missouri river, most recently in the mid 70s.

The Nebraska Outlaw Trail / Scenic Byway 12 is a 231-mile stretch of road. What took pioneers, outlaws, cowboys, and Indians days and weeks to traverse, now is a days ride of interesting sights such as different landscapes including wetlands, lowlands, and grasslands; rolling hills and hilly bluffs; wide open prairies and wooded groves; waterfalls and waterways and wildlife from prairie dogs to bison, and turkeys to bald-eagles.

The remaining 13 riders departed the Dakota Inn, Pickstown, SD and went back to SD Highway 281 and entered Nebraska before turning onto NE Highway 12, the culprit necessitating this adjustment. Route 12 is closed on both the east and west sides of the Town of Niobrara. Therefore to get to the town, you can take the South Dakota Dept. of Transportation detour which is 105 miles long or you can take the shuttle over a gravel road for 11 miles from the Town of Verdel - which is just a mile longer than the stretch of road that is closed. A shuttle was available to carry the riders, but several hearty souls [Rich G, Dan K, Pete S and Bill K] road the gravel road into Niobrara.

The Police Department is handing out directions for the detour out of Niobrara which is pretty much the same as today. A gravel/hard packed road which bypasses the flooded area and returns you to NE Route 12. We have set up shuttles for the riders in the morning...6:00 am; 7:00 am and 8:00 am. If a rider chooses not to take a shuttle, tomorrow's mileage will be 88 miles -- Those taking the shuttle will only pedal approximately 50 miles.

As I was getting the support van ready for tomorrow's adventure...scouting the detour/shuttle route, as I was returning back to the motel  at 8:00 pm, this is what I saw...

The weather for tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same...should be interesting considering many of the riders are already complaining about the heat...and we are not even in the south yet!
Tomorrow we are off to Vermillion, SD which will be our last day in South Dakota before we cross into Iowa at Souix City.

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