In June, the Heartland members of Nebraska's Cedar and Knox counties have organized bike day-tours during two weekends for bicycling lovers.
The first weekend is Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17. On Friday's Bow Creek Ride, the starting point is St. James Marketplace, St. James, NE, for breakfast. Tour stops also include Nissen Brothers Vineyard and the Pheasant's Den near Obert, NE.
The approximate length of the ride is 33 miles, with locally grown lunch provided at the final stop and midday break at the Den. If you have never seen Plum Tree Road or Mulberry Bend, this is the ride for you.
On Saturday, June 17, the starting point is the Argo Hotel in Crofton, NE. The tour will take you for a visit to Jolene Steffen's Art Gallery, man-made Chalkrock Lake near Menominee, NE, Diane's Greenhouse near Fordyce, NE, and Prairie Blossom Trail. If you're lucky during the 39 mile-ride, you'll have a Hairy Cow Sighting, as well as see pioneer wagon trails in native prairie grass and pass by historical country churches.
During the second weekend, the Niobrara Valley and Bazile Creek countryside will be toured. The starting point for the 42-mile ride on Friday, June 23, is the Ponca Earth Lodge, Niobrara, NE. Additional stops include Kreycik Riverview Elk and Buffalo at the Covered Wagon Ranch; historic Pischelville; scenic view of Niobrara River and Verdigre Creek; the Ponca Tribe; and an Amish farm.
In addition to the beautiful countryside near the Bazile and Howe Creeks, the 32 miles covered on the last day's ride, Saturday, June 24, will include Bruns' Grass Dairy; an Indian reservation; archeological dig site; covered wagon trail; and Berry Pepper Days.
Each ride is limited to a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 50 riders. Every day begins with breakfast at the first site, water stops, a midday break and lunch. A tour guide will keep the bikers on track for the scenic routes and maps will also be provided.
On the Bow Creek Ride, bikers will travel minimum maintenance dirt roads for the most part. Deep cuts in the rolling Nebraska hills placed over 100 years ago by ancestors of area residents meander through scenic farming communities of northern Cedar County.
"We designed the rides for two reasons," said Tim Nissen, co-owner of Nissen Brothers Vineyard. "First to attract people and let them know biking is good in this area. Second, we will showcase our locally grown, organic, food products."
Bikers will need to be at the starting point for each day's ride by 6:30 a.m. Breakfast will be provided at the beginning point and the mid-day break will be lunch before they head back to the starting spot. Registration is $60.
Planners estimate the bikers will travel at 6 mph and the average day-ride should take approximately five hours.