Sunday, July 17, 2011

Midnight Ride

The Owl Ride:
What: Late-night bicycle ride around Omaha benefiting the Meyer Foundation for Disabilities
Distance: 16 miles

Time: 11pm-2am
Riders: 2,000

At 10:30 we finished loading our bicycles into the car and were on our way downtown. We parked, unloaded, buckled our helmets, and switched on our lights. We lined up with the other 2,000 riders at the starting line -- on the overflowing riverfront. Luckily, the street was open only for bicycles, and was closed to motorized vehicles because of the flood.

We took off from Rick's Boatyard in groups so that the streets wouldn't be too flooded with tangles of wrecking bicycles. We took to the streets of the Old Market, and onto the first "Owl Perch", or rest area, at Midtown Crossing. We passed through this point, as it had only been about 15 minutes of riding. We continued onto Dundee, Aksarben Village, and Field Club where the remaining Owl Perches were located. Each stop had cold water which was necessary, on a 90-degree muggy night. The streets weren't closed to traffic, so we dodged parked and driving vehicles. We stopped at stoplights and cruised through the greens. Volunteers and police officers were at intersections and turns, telling us which way to go.

It was quite a sight seeing so many bicycles decorated with headlights, red flashing tail lights, and neon glow-sticks riding through town. In various neighborhoods, house parties of people came out, beer in hand, to cheer us on. I'm not sure why, but "USA! USA!" was a very common chant from on-lookers.

We finished with a ride through ConAgra Plaza, past the Qwest (ahem, Century Link) Center, and back to the Riverfront. We ate some less-than-delicious breakfast burritos, were interviewed by the news crew, and relaxed on the riverfront landing.

Owl Perch in Aksarben Village

Joe, Emily, and I at two of the stops

Cooling off at the riverfront landing

The riverfront. Left: Rick's Boatyard and pedestrian bridge, and riders after the finish.
Right: The flooded river--you can see how high the water is on the lights and benches.

What a great night of riding with great friends.

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