Bicycling Buddies: Western Nebraska Bicycling Club builds bike community
     2014-07-24      By Kay Grote    editor@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Kay Grote/Gering Citizen - Members of the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club gather prior to the start of the 2014 Oregon Trail Days Bicycle Hill Climb. They include Travis Todd, Roger Hill, Joab Olsen, Garrett Olsen, Jim Trumbull, Rod Carter, Jennifer Wilson, Matt Hutt, Devin Furby, Allison Furby, Cal Dixon, and Scott Schaub.  
The wheels are turning for members of the newly formed Western Nebraska Bicycling Club as they build momentum to promote social, recreational, and competitive cycling in the region. More than a dozen members of the group showed up for this year’s Oregon Trail Days Bicycle Hill Climb. Some participated, determined to meet the challenge of the steep grade up the summit road of Scotts Bluff National Monument, while others watched, taking mental notes on how to successfully conduct the hill climb challenge event.

“This will be my last year coordinating this event,” announced longtime Bicycle Hill Climb coordinator Larry Massie following the race. “The members of the bike club are taking over next year. I’m sure they will do a great job and we hope that under their direction, this event will continue to grow.”

Club president Garrett Olsen of Sidney, who watched at the finish line as racers completed the 1.6 mile climb, said he was pleased with the event although he was disappointed that the number of participants were down by eight or 10 riders from last year. This year’s race, he said, went off without a hitch despite the severe rainstorm the night before that caused some mud and fallen debris along the roadway. He said things to improve upon for next year would be a better marked finish line, better communication and tallying of racers’ times, and better promotion.

“Promote, promote, promote,” Olsen told club members.

Promoting—either by word of mouth or by example—has become the club’s best method of growth. Club members hope in time to become a funded group that could have some influence in the development of western Nebraska roads, trails and other infrastructure for bicycling and outdoor recreation. For now, though, they are just building their endurance and friendships that will propel them toward organizing and hosting more organized riding events.

“It’s just nice to get together with other cyclists and go,” said club member and local cyclist Roger Hill of rural Scottsbluff. “That’s the thing, just find someone you can ride with and just have fun. Ride a little more each day, get a little better, a little stronger and then in time, if you want to do the big rides, you can.”

Hill, who won the men’s age 40-49 mountain bike division in the Oregon Trail Days Bicycle Hill Climb, will compete this weekend in the Laramie Enduro 111K ride. Earlier this summer he also participated in the Bike Ride Across Nebraska and recently returned from a ride on the George S. Mickleson Trail in South Dakota. After that, he said, he’ll return to a more casual pace of social cycling.

“I just want to stay healthy and active. And I really enjoy the people,” Hill said.

Another local rider, Allison Furby of Gering, hit her goal while making the local hill climb.

“I only started riding three years ago and doing this event was one of my goals,” Furby said.

Furby hit her mark, sharing the ride experience with her husband, Devin, and placing first in the women’s mountain bike category.

“I want to see more people out here. I’d like to see more ladies and kids participating,” she said.

Her hopes will come to fruition if she and other bicycling club members continue to promote, promote, promote. Club members are now holding regular Tuesday night rides in Scottsbluff and Sidney and invite other cyclists of all levels and ages to join them. Rides depart from the Scottsbluff YMCA or the Shelter House in Sidney at 6:30 p.m. Friends are also invited to like the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club Facebook page.

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