Robert Hale from Port Matilda, Pennsylvania on 9/13/2018 10:32:43 AM
I rode parts of the Cowboy Trail and the highway from Valentine to Norfolk from September 8-10th, 2018. My impression of the trail is that it could be a gem, but is too poorly maintained to really be usable. The scenery around Valentine is beautiful. However the gravel is not packed and I sunk and slid even on 40mm tires. Near Wood Lake there were sections where it appeared that weeds had grown so tall and thick on the trail that they were simply mowed, leaving stumps. At Johnstown, I sunk and slid, and being clipped in, took a spill. It was at that point that I decided to ride the parallel highway. To the best of my ability, I calculated that using the same effort on the trail was costing me about 4 miles an hour. My first day, I rode from Valentine to Bassett. I camped in the Bassett city park. There was water and electricity available, and the restroom doors at the swimming pool were open, but no water to flush the single toilet. You can imagine the condition. On the second day I rode from Bassett to Inman. Several times I ventured onto the trail for a mile, only to return to the highway. Typically the highway and trail are so close together your scenery doesn't change, only the effort in peddling. The shoulder or berm on the highway is excellent. It is wide and smooth, and the traffic is courteous. In Atkinson, I was invited to lunch by Pastor Linda and the Methodists. They were wonderful people and a picnic lunch was a great break from peddling with the south breeze cross wind. I also waved and shouted at the only other long distance cyclist I encountered on the trip. He was on the highway and shouted back that he was headed to California. Camping in the Inman city park was an adventure - no water, no electricity and no restrooms. On the third day I stuck to the highway from Inman to Norfolk. The only hill, and it was a small one, that I encountered on the entire trip was in Neligh. I was riding a fully packed Kona Sutra bicycle. My tubes had sealent, and I never had a flat although at one point riding on the trail, I had thrown enough sandburs up on the front panniers that they were difficult to open without getting stuck several times. I truly enjoyed the ride. The people I met were great. The highway was pleasant. The scenery especially near Valentine was excellent. The trail needs to be maintained. My advice to other riders would be to ride the trail from Valentine to Wood Lake (where I had a lovely break in their park)and think about the highway for the remainder of the ride.