Day 4: Outlaw on Wheels

Well, I am in Nebraska I have to say for once. A day that promised to be hot and delivered on its promise. And very dusty. Lincoln Highway in Iowa is long, long stretches of dirt road the dust storms of which the few farms along the oceans of corn and soybeans try to tame with calcium chloride – says David. It looks like sprayed with water to me. The dirt roads are doable for the daring on two wheels, daring it is when the gravel is loose and unavoidable. Simon and Garfunkle’s “Slip sliding away” I hear in my mind trying to keep my balance. Somehow David thinks he is on asphalt judging by his speed. Our black and shiny bikes are turning into sandy Paris-Dakar machines.

This is one way to give the medical report re the condition of MS. Her new battery heart gets her going in the morning on first touch of the starter. When freeing the fuel lines she cries a bit of fuel. So: MS is definitely injured in her petcocks. Now, that is a strange thing to say about a lady…. If needed I will just repeat the oil transfusion. At day’s end: just a bit of oil top-up, no gas problem. And I have learned to apply the clips to her fuel lines. She is very happy cruising along at 60-65 mph (miles per hour = about 100 kilometers per hour for European readers) and delivers 35-38 mpg (=miles per gallon, > 1:15 in liter and kilometer terms) depending I definitely think also upon the grade of gas I can get. In these parts of the world it is often at best 89 octane – unheard of in Europe where 95 is standard. The maximum I come across occasionally is 92 or 93 octane – that is what I feed MS if I can get it – and she loves it.

No, we are not riding 60-65 mph on the dirt roads. That we do, speed limit permitting – on US 30, the new Lincoln Highway so to say, usually a two-lane road often paved over the original. We want to make it into Wyoming and that won’t happen if we ride all the many dirt originals of Iowa. We have done many, though. Note for Brian Butko: the LH road signs to our surprise do not lead the LH fan over the section with the Marsh and L-bridges; we of course did ride it guided by your LH Companion maps.

Notable things along the way. Mammoth silo’s and elevators to process the produce of the endless immenseness of corn and soybeans. Vintage gas stations, cafe’s and motels. Original bumpy brick section. And miles and miles of very long freight trains pulled by enormous locs (LH parallels more or less a transcontinental rail road). A sandbagged causeway over the high waters in the overflow areas of the mighty Missouri River. Miniature and life-size statues of Abraham Lincoln. Huge brown rusted iron bridges that carry the railroad over streams and rivers.

My strongest sensation is that of being transported back to the time of the old Wild West. The picture. The rider on his horse (= MS) approaches a town from the deserted plains. The road usually leads directly into downtown Main Street with just a few low brick buildings left and right. The rider slows down. He enters cautiously (low speed limit). The Bank of Heretown is there, the General Store, maybe a church, and of course the saloon.. Built between 1875 and 1910. The few people around are eying the incoming stranger.. good guy or outlaw. Enters the outlaw. Fantasy? No, reality on the Lincoln Highway.

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