Saturday, November 8, 2008



So, whilst traveling on tour with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, I ended up in Omaha with a day off before election day and a show there on election day. I wasn't crazy about missing election day in Chicago, what with it likely to be "an historic event" and all (That phrase has really been flying around this last couple of weeks, I can't help but put it in quotation marks. English teachers must be excited as I reckon there aren't a lot of good everyday examples of the "h" exception to usage of "and."). However, I decided to make the best of it and see if I could find a bike and get some exercise. We were staying just north of the downtown "Old Market" area, right near this big Qwest Arena thing. Lots of new construction, warehouse conversions, etc. up here. I looked up area bike shops and found Olympic Cycles and gave them a call about renting a bike. At first the guy seemed like it wasn't going to happen, I was asking about a road bike and he said they only had 2 bikes to rent, a mountain bike and a sort of cruiser bike and one of them was already out. I was getting ready to blow it off when I heard him listening to someone off phone and then he said "Actually we have one old road bike to rent." I told him I was tall and he said that it was about 25 inches. I told him I'd be right over!

So, I got a ride over there from my fellow crew member Mark who along with his wife Julie, who grew up in Omaha, were out looking at places to live and preparing to move there. The shop was a nice funky old storefront affair. It said "since 1973" on the door, and I thought "this is the place for me!" Turned out the bike was a great old Raleigh Competition GS touring bike, Reynolds 531 tubing, full Campy 10-speed setup. It was one of the owner, Larry's personal bikes he'd brought in for another random tall guy rental request he'd had the week before. I rode it around the block and then got setup with a bike map and I was on my way.

I basically descended from the shop all the way back down to the riverfront where we were staying. The Raleigh was really fast! It was so fun and incredible to be riding in a strange town on a strange bike. I went back to the hotel and just got changed and looked at the map. Julie had mentioned how Omaha had their own new "bridge to nowhere" (so to speak), a hike and bike bridge over the river to Council Bluffs, Iowa. On the map I could see a lot of riverfront bike paths, so I headed over there.

Well, the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge is definitely a bridge to somewhere to me (and I imagine to many others who might want to stay fit, or actually even get to work by bike or on foot over the river without having to brave one of the numerous auto bridges full of freeway speed traffic. It's funny how controversial it is to spend money on a bridge that can't have cars driving over it. No price is too high
, it seems, to support automobile mobility, while Amtrak funding, public transit funding and any sort of really comprehensive system of paths for bikes, peds, etc. is considered some sort of socialist handout. GROAN!!!!

Anyway, there were several miles of great paved bike paths around the river here. I rode about 12 miles that late afternoon until dusk fell. Took a couple of crappy phone pics below on the aforementioned bridge. It has a great view of the city and in spite of just opening (I believe) several days before, it already had a good amount of both foot and bike traffic on it.

The next day, election day, I went out again and rode for about 20 more miles or so before bringing the bike back to Olympic and getting to work. Our night at the Slowdown turned out to be a great night anyway, the venue was really nice and they had the election situation pretty well sorted out with a large projector TV setup and plenty of good internet access, etc. I watched the scene in Grant Park back home, looking for my wife and friends on the TV. Anyway, a big shout out to Olympic Cycles for hooking me up!

No comments: