Rider’s Lens: Vince Asta’s Nebraska
We’ve met few people who are as passionate about discovering the wonders in their own backyard as Vince Asta, owner of Omaha’s Ponderosa Cyclery + Tour. In today’s edition of Rider’s Lens, we take a look at the byways of Vince’s home state of Nebraska through his eyes…
Words and photos by Vince Asta (@parts.and.labor)
The riding in our own backyards is often overlooked when thinking about a tour, even though it’s obviously the most accessible. It’s something you don’t have to hop on a train or plane for, and can do in a weekend (a day, even). Using this mindset, I’ve done countless trips, and covered a lot of ground. For me, these trips strike the same chord as touring the Pacific Coast or one of the “epics,” but in a different way. And for me, they’re more satisfying. I grew up here in Nebraska, so I take great pride in getting to know my home state by bike.
From east to west, Nebraska’s landscape is quite varied. On the west end, we have the Panhandle, which is the where the West really begins: the Oregon Trail, landmark country, and beautiful Pine Ridge. So much history lies within that region. Central Nebraska is home to the Nebraska National Forest, Niobrara River, and the Sandhills region, which is one of the most unique landscapes on Earth. This all sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer, making for some the most fertile soil and ranchland in the world. And to the east, we have endless gravel and dirt roads in the Missouri River Valley. Throughout the entirety of Nebraska, though, we have some of the nicest and kindest people you’ll meet. Guaranteed.
This place will make your heart sing. The sheer vastness and diversity of the land will win you over, no doubt. It’s nice livin’ here, folks.
Vince’s Photography Kit
I typically carry a Sony RX10, my trusty Jandd hip pack, and binoculars. Always binoculars.
Oglala Grassland is something to behold, encompassing nearly 100,000 acres of wide-open prairie, badlands, and endless two-track. Prehistoric, almost. This parcel is located in the very northwest corner of Nebraska, bordering South Dakota and Wyoming.
I took this photo on our last day of a six-day trip, on the final stretch into camp. Our shadows were getting long, the light was good, clouds were like the ones you might see in a painting, and we had the rare occurrence of a light wind. The horizon is showcasing the north side of Pine Ridge. To the east, a burnt and scathed section endures, despite a wildfire some years ago. To the west, an intact and vibrant growth of trees. The way it should be.
This was a section we’d sought out and camped within a couple nights earlier. This here is the beauty of the High Plains: traversing the wide open prairie one minute, and the next, dodging ponderosa pine along two-track up in the ridge. This is the diversity that brings us back year after year, trip after trip.
About Vince Asta
When he’s not fixing bikes in his shop, Ponderosa Cyclery, Vince Asta does what he can to get out and sleep under the stars as often as possible. Those stars generally reside over the state of Nebraska. Check out Ponderosa Cyclery on Instagram @ponderosacyclery and keep up with Vince’s personal account @parts.and.labor.