Rider’s Lens: Vince Asta’s Nebraska

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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.

Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska

  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska

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 Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska

Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska

  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska
  • Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska

Vince’s Photography Kit

I typically carry a Sony RX10, my trusty Jandd hip pack, and binoculars. Always binoculars.

Photo Breakdown

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.

Vince Asta Bikepacking Nebraska

Vince Asta, Ponderosa Cyclery

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.

Interested in Nebraska bikepacking routes? Check out the Oglala Loop, which takes in the Oglala grasslands, and the High Plains Byway, which features several of the landscapes mentioned here.

  • Tim Maides

    Vince kills it!

  • Accidental FIRE

    Great piece, awesome photos!

  • Paulo LaBerge

    I love the Rider’s Lens series! So inspiring. Great shots, Vince!

  • Vince and Carl are awesome people! I guess Nebraska ain’t bad either.. Carls got a super special one off camera strap and Vince has custom Ponderosa Stem Caddys *wink *wink *shameless plug

  • Hans

    Always binoculars. Love that!

  • Miles

    As an inhabitant of the Midwest, I also love when people share its beauties with the outside world. Thanks for posting.

  • David Lee

    I knew I missed out on something special when I was in Omaha last Monday and saw that Ponderosa is closed that day.

  • Don neifert

    Thanks for the nice article. I’m not familiar with the usb device on the top of stems – what is that for? Also, I love to see racks and panniers still being used on occasion…

  • Randal GoingHAM

    Speaking of Nebraska, me and the boys are trying to put together something that combines the High Plains Byway and the Cowboy Trail RTT. The route itself seems like it would be totally straightforward, but the logistics of getting to Scottsbluff are holding us back right now. Seems easy enough to get to Omaha (and then back to Omaha from the end of the Cowboy Trail), but we’re still trying to figure out how to get from Omaha to the beginning of the Byway. Is the best move to just do a one-way car rental in Omaha and leave it in Scottsbluff?

    Appreciate any help you can provide!

  • Ben

    What you’re looking at is a charger that converts the dynamo output for use with USB rechargeable devices. The one pictured is made by Sinewave Cycles, the Reactor. The wire runs up through the steerer tube so mounting is very clean. It’s a nice piece of kit.


  • Jarrod Breuer

    Why not take Amtrak to mccook and head north from there?

  • Randal GoingHAM

    Its still like 250 miles to ride from there to Scottsbluff. It kind of seems like it’d probably be easier to fly into Omaha, rent a car there, and drive it the 7 hrs to Scottsbluff then it would be to fly into Omaha, get to the train station with a bike, take the train, then ride for a few days to get to the trail.

    TBH, looks like it’d be easier to fly into Denver and do the one-way rental there instead of in Omaha.

  • Haruld

    Well done article. Speaks volumes about the nature to which bike packing can be. It’s not all trend Colorado and Cali – it should remain open to the beautiful wonders of the flyovers. Recommend a new column focusing in on states/regions that have opportunities for bikepacking less traveled.

  • Zach Windsor

    You can also fly into Denver and then catch a flight into Chadron (apparently they have some cheap flight options from Denver these days) or Scottsbluff. Just some thoughts. Or if you’re going the rental car option Denver is still much closer to Scottsbluff and typically is cheaper to fly into.