On the way out to Colorado to finish some trim carpentry on a friend’s vacation home I stopped in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a reader of this blog would know I end up in Lincoln once or twice a year. Unfortunately, every time I end up in Lincoln it is usually hot and windy or hot and humid or just so hot it does not matter. It is my belief that the city of Lincoln is trying to kill me.
Stubborn to a fault, it was my mission to hit up one of the local trails that I had not ridden and see what eastern Nebraska had to offer the gravel set.
The MoPac East Trail is built on an abandoned Missouri Pacific rail line that runs for about 26 miles along its entirety. The eastern portion, hence the MoPac East, runs just under 22 miles from the eastern edge of Lincoln at the 84th Street trailhead to the town of Wabash. The difference in mileage is for the portion that runs through town and is paved.
I rode just a little over 15 miles of the 22-mile portion due to a combination a wind, heat, and lack of knowledge about the trail conditions. I did not want to find myself gassed in 90-plus degree heat facing a headwind on the return trip and end up exhausted the next morning on an eight-hour drive into the mountains. For the out and back (just over 30 miles round trip) I gained and lost ~450 feet of elevation, which squares with most trails I have ridden in the region.
The trail conditions were fairly good. I am going to attribute the rutting in some locations to the intense rainstorms that the remnant of Tropical Storm/Depression Cristobal dropped in the region. Otherwise, the trail was graded well and most of the gravel was evenly distributed.
I will note that I forgot what it is like to ride on crushed limestone. The white dust is nothing short of insidious. For whatever reason Easter Iowa trails are using less crushed limestone and more of a cleaned rock. In preparation for a paving project the northern portion of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail outside of Center Point has a packed base that has been rolled over many times. It is almost as hard as pavement at this point.
All in all, I would say that I favor the MoPac East trail over the longer Homestead Trail that I rode last year. The MoPac East’s surface conditions were better and there was enough variation to break up the long slogs. The Homestead Trail felt like a singularly long bike ride through a straight tunnel of trees.
One trail new to me down and one to go to complete my goal for the year. Where will I ride next?