AP NEWS

Committee updates Tour de Nebraska route for riders’ safety

March 29, 2019

GERING — The organizing committee for the Tour de Nebraska in Scottsbluff and Gering are preparing for a major influx of riders in June as the annual event makes stops in town.

Each year, TDN gathers their support and gear (sag) vehicles for a five-day tour through scenic, rural Nebraska. This year’s ride takes bicyclists around western Nebraska on a circuitous route through Sidney, Kimball, Gering, Scottsbluff and Bridgeport.

Riders travel 30 to 70 miles each day on a fun and leisurely ride. With a little over a week and a half left for registrations, spots are filling up quickly.

“In my last conversation with organizers, they said they have 400 riders already registered,” said Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Visitors Bureau. “That’s a tremendous number of people.”

The planning committee in Scottsbluff and Gering coordinated with volunteers and are working steadily to provide coverage in all the areas needed. When riders cycle north from Kimball, they will have three stops along the way. The final stop before Gering will be at the Wildcat Hills.

Because it’s a fun ride, residents should check their surroundings as the influx of cyclists enter the community that day.

“We will have more than 400 riders coming in at various times during the day,” Niedan-Streeks said. “We expect them from mid-morning until around 3 p.m.”

Once riders settle into Gering for the evening, they will start preparing for their 30- or 77-mile bicycle rides to Scottsbluff. On day three, riders’ options are to ride the 5 miles from Gering to the top of the Scotts Bluff National Monument, a 30-mile route around Scottsbluff and Gering or a 77-mile loop through Wyoming.

After looking at the route map recently, organizers have made one major change to the 30-mile route planned for Friday, June 21. The ride from Gering to Scottsbluff is rerouted for safety reasons.

“They made some changes predominantly because they were concerned about riders on Sugar Factory Road,” Niedan-Streeks said. “There are no shoulders there, so the route has been changed.”

No other changes are anticipated to be made to the route.

The 30- and 77-mile rides will take riders through Mitchell. Although the city is not an official stop on the route, they will provide activities for riders as well.

“They will be providing light snacks for the 30-mile group,” said Brenda Leisy, director of Scotts Bluff County Area Visitors Bureau. “They will prepare lunch for the 77-mile group.”

Day four is a 51-mile bike ride from Scottsbluff to Bridgeport and day five is a 45-mile ride from Bridgeport to Sidney.

When other committee members had questions about how to plan for bad weather, Cathy Eastman, who has ridden in the Tour de Nebraska previously, said riders typically find their own shelter.

“We’ve never had anyone turn us away,” Eastman said. “I’ve stood on people’s porches before.”

Worries about weather will be considered as the date draws nearer. While the weather is expected to be clear skies, there are always chances for hard rain and/or hail during June in western Nebraska.

“That route from Kimball to here is a wide open ride,” Niedan-Streeks said. “With good weather, it should be a beautiful ride.”

Niedan-Streeks said although it seems like an easy task to prepare for such an event, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be organized so the riders have a great time.

“We want to make sure everyone is well-prepared and there are no glitches in the system,” Niedan-Streeks said.

Overall, many of the committee members have been through an experience like this before, particularly with the 2017 total solar eclipse and they know they can get the job done.

“This whole event is meant to be an enjoyable, leisurely, do what you want to do kind of thing,” Niedan-Streeks said.