We woke this morning knowing that we'd have a strong westerly tailwind behind us that would slowly transition to being a more northerly crosswind. Either way, not having a headwind was a very welcome change.
We made good time to Cozad with the usual stream of cargo trains following us on our journey. There was not much in Cozad save for an arch proclaiming Cozad to be the location of the 100th Meridian. Unfortunately another sign accompanied the arch, saying that the rod between Cozad and Lexington was closed and that traffic should detour onto I-80. This was not an option for us. The gas station clerk called her mom (a member the Cozad Police Department) who said we could ride through the construction zone. We took this pseudo-permission as sufficient and headed past the orange and white barricades. I was happy to not have to add a 5 to 10 mile detour to our daily agenda.
The construction was to mill and repave the highway to "Lex" as the locals all it. The shoulder was amazingly smooth and we flew with our tailwind for about 10 miles. Cruising 18mph hands-free was a great way to rest my ulnar nerve damaged hands and a good morale boost for the day. Passing past the construction crew we were videotaped on one of their cell phones, not sure why he felt the need to do that. Fresh out of the construction zone, we stopped in at a local restaurant serving breakfast.
We were seated next to two ladies finishing up their breakfasts. They asked about our trip and fundraising for Lea's Foundation. After we ordered they asked if we had ordered a hearty meal because they wanted to pay for our meal. We thanked them profusely and could not believe we had had two consecutive meals donated to us. After they paid, they returned and wished us well before giving us another $25 cash donation. Nebraska is tough, but the people here do seem very genuinely interested in what we are doing.
Stops in Overton and Elm Creek kept us fueled up and hydrated. Today's heat did not reach triple digits, but the humidity is the highest we have felt yet this trip. We can now feel ourselves sweating profusely every time we stop moving. Previously we would just have salty deposits on our skin after hours of pedaling.
We grabbed lunch across from University of Nebraska Kearney. We planned to reach Grand Island, another 40+ miles ahead of us. Today's trip was particularly flat and straight even for Nebraska. We could see small towns approaching by their silos appearing over the horizon miles and miles before we actually reached them. The trains remained our source of entertainment and we continued to exchange waves with the train engineers. I reflected that some of train drivers had likely seen us already in a western part of Nebraska. The next train that passed had its engineer hanging his whole torso outside his locomotive window as he waved at us.
With a stop in each small town on the way to Grand Island, we crawled our way to "GI". In Wood River a young couple asked us where we were biking. The girl said she thought she had seen us "back in Lex" that morning, but could not believe we had managed to make it so far.
Finally the sun was setting again, the temperature cooling, and our pace to Grand Island quickening. With a motel near a Denny's and a rest day on the horizon we knew another late night breakfast was imminent. Google Maps showed us a shortcut down Husker Highway and before we knew it, it was time for breakfast #2 of the day. We reflected that while biking at night was cool and easy, we needed to get back on a more sustainable early schedule.