Governor Pete Ricketts was among the 270 cyclists who toured north central Nebraska on the 28th annual Tour de Nebraska bicycle tour, June 17-21. Ricketts rode for one day, from Burwell to Broken Bow, on June 20.
“We were happy to have Gov. Ricketts ride with us on Tour de Nebraska this year. He is an avid cyclist and we were certain that he would enjoy the beauty and hospitality of this area, as well as the other cyclists, who range in age from 14-80 and represent 15 states and Canada,” said Susan Larson Rodenburg, who organizes the tour with her husband, Rich.
The noncompetitive circle tour started and ended in Ravenna, 129 miles west of Lincoln. It had overnight stops in at St. Paul (June 17), Ord (June 18), Burwell (June 19) and Broken Bow (June 20), before returning to Ravenna on June 21.
The Tour de Nebraska bicycle adventure is a mental and physical challenge for cyclists of all ages. Participants come from across Nebraska and other states, including California, Minnesota, Idaho, New Mexico, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Colorado, Iowa and Arizona.
“Our cyclists like the size of Tour de Nebraska because it’s big enough to meet some new people, but small enough not to overwhelm the communities we visit,” Susan Rodenburg said. "We have families, school teachers, busy executives and others who all share a passion for cycling and adventure. They can ride all day at their own speed so they can take full advantage of sightseeing and food in the small communities along the way. By the time the tour ends, we are all bonded in one way or another.”
In the beginning
The Rodenburgs created Tour de Nebraska 28 years ago after many of their friends expressed interest in doing a statewide tour. Since then, it’s grown from 11 cyclists and is now limited. Tour de Nebraska arranges meals, rest stops, daily maps, itineraries, luggage/gear transfers, emergency sag support on the highway, daily fruit and water. Riders camp at city parks or near high schools. There are also indoor camping options at high school gyms.
TDN’s Official Bike Shop is Cycle Works of Lincoln, which provides mechanical support during the tour.
The Rodenburgs help local communities along the route prepare for rest stops and overnight stays.
“We encourage the communities to highlight their community spirit, history and friendliness – their uniqueness,” she said. “We work closely with the local organizers so they can provide everything we need. Most find that hosting Tour de Nebraska is a fun way to bring new revenue to the area. It’s always exciting to find out what they have planned for us.”
The favorite rest stop and overnight host towns chosen by the riders receive cash awards. “It’s a small token of thanks for their efforts,” Rodenburg said. Organizers also present daily spirit awards to build camaraderie among riders. The coveted Tour de Nebraska Team Spirit Award is presented during Saturday night’s Tour de Nebraska Banquet to an individual who has shown a great amount of spirit, humor and joy while facing the challenges of the tour.
Shorter than some
Tour de Nebraska is 5 days instead of 7 like many other tours, making it perfect for first-time tourists or those with limited vacation schedules. There are many repeat riders. “It’s like a family reunion on wheels,” Rodenburg said.