Like most kids in the 1960s, Jane Michele Raybould rode a bike around the neighborhood.
She has no idea how old she was when she got her first bike, but she knows she pedaled her legs off keeping up with her older brothers, Mike and Pat.
She loved the freedom of riding and especially the speed. As a diminutive child, she loved running and was a little speedster -- in an effort to keep out of reach of those two older brothers -- but when she really wanted to get somewhere, she hopped on her bike and off she went.
Raybould, 58, never gave up cycling completely, but like most people, life got in the way of riding for the sheer joy of it. In high school, she rode her bike to work at her father’s grocery store, B&R, at 17th and Washington streets. At the time, that was the only store Russ Raybould owned.
After graduating from Lincoln Pius X High School, Raybould worked on her undergraduate degree in political science at Creighton University in Omaha, volunteered at the senior center and served as a resident advisor. During school breaks, she rode her bike to work at the grocery.
As a junior, Raybould applied for a semester abroad at the American College in Paris, and she studied in Paris the fall semester of her senior year. Over the holiday break, Raybould and a group of French students went to what was then the U.S.S.R., spending two weeks in Leningrad and Moscow.
During those pre-Perestroika/pre-Gorbachev days, the economy was failing, the black market was thriving and Soviet citizens, despite the government line, loved Americans.
Raybould was intrigued by the black market and what was called the second economy. Without ready cash to pay for what they needed, people bartered and traded for the goods and services they needed.
“The Soviets we met were incredibly happy, generous and fun, in spite of their fairly poor living conditions,” Raybould said. “Because they loved all things Western, I traded two pair of Levi’s for four rabbit fur hats and a black lacquered box. I gave the hats to my dad and brothers and kept one because they’re so warm.”
The difficult everyday lives of the Soviets affected her profoundly, and she altered the course of her studies, applying to the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University for a master’s degree program.
She studied Russian at Indiana’s Slavic Language Institute and was offered the position as Russian House Resident Advisor, which then qualified her for in-state tuition. She and the other students in the Russian House spoke to one another only in Russian, and the immersive experience improved her Russian in no time.
Languages did not come easily to Raybould; although she worked hard, studied and practiced with other students as often as she could. Raybould’s mother Anita Jaworski Raybould was born in Tarnov, Nebraska, in a tight-knit Polish community, and her first language was Polish. Raybould picked up Polish from listening to her relatives talking.
Before her senior year at Creighton, when Raybould was home for the summer, she rode her bike to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she took an intensive French history class, which was invaluable during her semester abroad in Paris. Although she speaks quite well, she knew enough, as an American speaking French, to be apologetic about her skills, which endeared her to her host family in Paris and others she encountered.
The decision to study in Indiana also altered her life in an unanticipated way when she met her future husband, a Spaniard named Jose M. (Pepe) Herrero, who was a Fulbright student at Indiana University School of Law getting a master's in international law.
In 1982, Raybould transferred to Georgetown and finished her master’s at the Russian Area Studies Program with a specialization in Soviet economics. Her thesis was on the Soviet healthcare system.
Herrero returned to Spain to get a certificate in European community law and then moved to Washington, D.C., to study for the D.C. bar exam and work on his second master's in law at Georgetown University Law School.
The young couple discovered early in their relationship that faith, family and community are tremendously important to them both, and they were and still are the principles that guide them through life.
The following year they married in Washington, D.C.
While continuing to work on her master’s and learn Spanish, Raybould and Herrero started their family. In 1985, when their daughter Clara was 11 months old, Raybould graduated, and not long after, their son Gabriel was born.
“My (graduation) gown helped hide how pregnant I was with Gaby,” Raybould laughed. “And then I got a job writing about the Soviet vodka industry and contraception and sex in Russia for Facts on File and applied at the U.S. Department of Commerce to work on a project that dealt with Soviet trade and technology.”
In 1987, Raybould went to work for the District of Columbia Building Industry Association (DCBIA), and she staffed half of the committees. She was particularly drawn to the Community Service Committee because of its outreach programs and its Community Improvement Day (CID).
Working with commercial lenders, brokers, attorneys, architects, accountants, developers, engineer and general contractors, Raybould learned the ins and outs of taking on building projects for various community-oriented programs. One of the first projects Raybould worked on was the rehabilitation of the Sasha Bruce House on Capitol Hill.
This short-term shelter for at-risk youth was in need of exterior renovations and interior rehabs for the therapy rooms and recreational area. The DCBIA also provided landscaping and built a patio.
“During the 16 years I worked there, we partnered with D.C. Parks on 10 projects, and each year we’d select a park facility that needed upgrades and improvements; we’d rehab the community center, playground, ball fields or soccer fields," Raybould said. "We designed the projects only after meeting with neighbors every month for a year and getting their input on what improvements they wanted. We also enlisted the neighbors’ help on the projects.”
What Raybould learned during her years at DCBIA proved invaluable once she and Herrero moved to Lincoln in 2003, and Raybould went to work as vice president and director of buildings and equipment at B&R Stores, which now has seven Russ’s Markets and 10 Super Savers throughout Nebraska in addition to an Apple Market in Kearney and a Save Best in Lincoln.
She also uses the knowledge she gleaned and the research and communication skills she developed in D.C. here in Lincoln after she was elected first to a four-year term on the Lancaster County Board and then to a four-year term on the Lincoln City Council.
“I learned about zoning, codes and financing and all about the commercial and residential building industry,” Raybould said. “I learned how to work with general contractors and committees that dealt with housing and legislative matters, and I was immersed in taxes and impositions, retail development and economic development. I learned while dealing with zoning changes and arranging for experts to testify before the Planning Department and D.C. City Council. We provided testimony from our member experts on everything from environmental impact studies to tax incremental financing and more.”
When Raybould and Herrero moved to Lincoln, they bought each other bikes. Herrero bought Raybould a Giant, which she loved. Although they didn’t have as much time as they’d have liked, they did ride together.
In 2013, Raybould’s friend Susan Larson Rodenburg encouraged her to ride the Tour de Nebraska (TDN), a five-day supported ride each June that takes cyclists through several Nebraska cities. That year, 55-year-old Raybould rode her 10-year-old cruiser roughly 306 miles through Doniphan, Loup City, Callaway, Holdrege and Blue Hill.
Throughout the ride, other cyclists offered encouragement, and several commented that Raybould showed real heart laboring up those hills on such a heavy old bike. They also offered advice about gear -- padded shorts -- for instance.
Although Raybould was a walker, and she and Herrero had ridden the hills in Pioneers Park and had put in some training miles, she admitted she wasn’t prepared for the challenge of riding several hundred miles in five days. In spite of her relative lack of training and her bike that wasn’t built for miles, speed or hills, Raybould rediscovered riding for the sheer joy of it, and she was hooked.
She thoroughly researched cycles, and when her kids came to visit that July after her first TDN, she asked them help her pick out her first road bike. Raybould calls this Giant her thoroughbred.
“As anyone who knows horses will tell you, thoroughbreds are sleek and fast, but they’re also a little finicky,” Raybould said. “I love the speed I can attain on paved roads, but it just doesn’t feel all that stable on gravel or trails.”
After riding her thoroughbred on TDN in 2014, 2015 and 2016, in April of this year, Raybould bought herself a quarter horse: a Trek hybrid. It provides the stability on crushed limestone trails and gravel that her road bike was lacking.
In an effort to try something different, in June, Raybould rode her trusty hybrid on a three-day bike-packing trip along the western part of the Katy Trail in southern Missouri. Starting in Clinton, she rode as far as Boonville before heading back.
“The high humidity and heat made the ride a little more strenuous than I thought it would be, but it was a great experience,” Raybould siad. “I’m absolutely hooked and am already planning rides in Iowa and New Mexico and dreaming of rides in France, Spain and Italy!”