Bike census

I get really frustrated when I hear people say “Oh, hardly any people ride bikes, so there’s no need for bike infrastructure.” Classic chicken-and-egg case: if it were easier and more comfortable to ride, it’s likely people would – which would have major implications in several community indices, notably public health.

But how to track where and when people ride bikes, and why? Q&A surveys, perhaps. There’s also the standard “stand on a street corner” traffic survey (it SO aggrieves me when these studies are done in the dead of winter & taken as a good indicator of demand for bike & ped facilities!)

In the absence of those types of censuses, there’s the totally unscientific “bikes I see when I happen to be out and about” variety. There’s got to be at least some value to that, right? Observing actual cyclist behavior at various locations at various times of day?

I’ve decided to record my observations here. Totally unscientific, and utterly depenent upon when and where I happen to be out, but why not?

Sunday, April 23, 2017, 13:00-14:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man (carrying bags from shopping) eastbound on 33rd St, on sidewalk on south side. Turned south on Ave B to first business driveway, crossed to funeral home driveway and continued southbound through business parking lots.

Bike 2: man westbound on West Overland on sidewalk on north side. Crossed to west side of Ave B & waited for light. Proceeded southbound on Ave B sidewalk.

Bike 3: woman westbound on West Overland at Avenue B, in street.

Monday, April 23, 2017, 15:00-16:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man northbound on Broadway on sidewalk on east side, turned eastbound onto street at East Overland.

Bike 2: man westbound on 14th Street west of 1st Avenue, walking bike with trailer in the street.

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10:00-12:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man northbound on Broadway at 17th in the street, rider wearing a backpack and smoking a cigarette

Bike 2: child southbound on east-side sidewalk of Broadway at 17th , accompanied by other young pedestrians and a stroller, then northbound again a few minutes later

Bikes 3-6: family group of parents and two children riding northbound on the east-side sidewalk of Broadway at 17th , mom smoking, dad with bag from a store

Bike 7: man northbound in the street at 17th, turned a circle in a parking space to talk to a pedestrian, then proceeded into turn lane and went west on 18th Street

Bikes 8-9: teen boys riding southbound on east-side Broadway sidewalk, crossed street diagonally at 17th and continued southbound on west-side sidewalk

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 17:00-18:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man riding northbound on centerline of 4th Ave at 18th, turned west into library driveway

Bike 2: man wtih a backpack carrying shopping bags riding westbound on East Overland sidewalk south side at 4th Ave

Monday, May 1, 2017, 8:00-9:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man eastbound on 20th street at 1st Ave on the sidewalk on the south side

Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 12:00-13:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Avenue B, on sidewalk on east side, turned east on north side sidewalk of 20th street – at Avenue A crossed street diagonally and continued eastbound in the street until reaching business driveway and getting on the south side sidewalk

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 12:00-13:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Broadway east side sidewalk at 19th

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 16:00-18:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Broadway east side sidewalk at 17th

Bike 2: man northbound on Broadway in street at 17th

Thursday, May 4, 2017,  Scottsbluff

Don’t remember all the details, but spotted 3 bikes in the downtown area, all being ridden on sidewalks – 2 men, not sure of the third cyclist.

I’m really thinking about this – if people do not feel comfortable riding in the street, is the best way to increase cycling and facilitate transportation to encourage sidewalk riding? Yet, there is potential for pedestrian conflict, and safety issues for people riding bikes on sidewalks when they cross streets and driveways.

This article has influenced my thinking quite a bit:

How Low-Income Cyclists Go Unnoticed

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PS – I love the idea of changing the “punchbuggy” driving game, where VW beetles are noted, to a “punchbike” game, where people on bikes are noted. Get everyone’s “bikedar” revved up!

Cloud ride at Scotts Bluff National Monument

This morning’s ride was magical.

As I pedaled through Gering for an early ride up Scotts Bluff National Monument before it opened to car traffic, I could see the top of the bluff peeking up out of a fog bank.

When I got closer to the bluff, I plunged in and out of the mist draped across the landscape, in full sun one moment, in shadow the next.

On my journey up Summit Road, I had to stop a couple of times to take pictures.

summit road fog pano

Panoramic shot at the beginning of the ride.

sun fog bluff

The scenery in front of the sun fighting through the mist tumbling across the bluff was otherworldly.

grass and fog

Closer to the top, the fog started to break up a bit.

As I neared a final turn, a ray of sunshine broke through and illuminated the fog particles as they rode a turbulent wind gust, around and around and down.

I paused in the parking lot up top to capture the wind in motion, made visible by the fog.

I took a short hike to an overlook, hoping the fog would break up and I could get an amazing shot of the bluff tops hovering above the clouds. Alas, the fog thickened.

Here’s an example of what I had hoped to see, from a photo posted August 6, 2015, on the Scotts Bluff National Monument Facebook page:

SBNM Aug 6 2015 fog

Photo credit: Scotts Bluff National Monument

The fog-filtered light atop the bluff – illumination without shadow – made the flora growing there seem distinct, distinguished.

cloudy sunlight

yellow flower

On my cautious, wet-brake descent, I stopped to take pictures of the tunnels. It was a little eerie looking to the side of the road and seeing nothing but cloud, easy to imagine being at a much greater height than I actually was.

summit road tunnel b

summit road tunnel a

So glad I decided on an early morning training ride today. What a way to start the week!

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except photo credited to Scotts Bluff National Monument

The bicycle parking project

As a regular bicycle commuter in the Scottsbluff-Gering area, I’ve been alternately pleased or dismayed with bicycle parking options at my destinations. Everywhere you go there is ample vehicle parking, but rarely is there a decent place to securely park a bicycle. A lack of basic infrastructure such as parking facilities implies that bicycles are not a welcomed or important mode of transportation – an assumption with which I wholeheartedly disagree!

To recognize businesses and institutions that are doing a good job, to suggest improvements, to encourage other entities to join in, and to show other potential bicyclists where they can park their rides, I’m embarking on this ongoing project to document and critique what’s available. Suggestions, contributions and updates welcomed!

The parking facilities below are listed in alphabetical order by city and are also linked on a Google map.

Added June 6: Here’s a simple design guide for bike parking that provides good suggestions for adding or upgrading bike parking.

Gering

Gering City Hall / Police Department

gering library PD

This rack, which gets a lot of shade, is located between the Gering City Hall / Police Department building and the Gering Public Library.

Gering Post Office

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It’s a short little wheel-bender rack, but sufficient for a quick trip to the post office.

Gering Public Library

gering library 1

Fish and seahorse. The Gering Public Library has some of my all-time favorite bike racks – they were made from scrapped bike parts and decorated by local artists. The only quibble would be that cyclists may not know the decorative racks are functional rather than simply decorative.

gering library 2

Shark!

gering library 3

Rainbow trout

gering library 4

Lobster

Heritage Estates

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It’s a tiny, non-secured bike rack that could be picked up and moved, but it was there on a day I needed it.

Legacy of the Plains Museum

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Apologies for the busy picture, but it was a busy day at Legacy of the Plains Museum when this photo was taken. The bike rack is very conveniently located just outside the front door.

Monument Shadows Golf Course

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The bike rack at the Gering golf course is over by the maintenance / golf cart building

Scotts Bluff County Administration Building

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The bike rack at the Scotts Bluff County Administration Building is not functional, except that the end can serve as a U-rack. The height of the bottom of the rack makes it impossible for an adult-size bicycle to rest securely between the uprights. It’s placed on the north side of the building near an employee entrance and is not welcoming or particularly useful. I was only able to lock my bike to it by using the side pole.

Scottsbluff

Bluffs Middle School

BMS southwest

The bike rack on the west side of the southwest corner of Bluffs Middle school is in the blazing sun from noon on.

BMS southeast 2

Another full-sun bike rack, this one at the entrance on the southeast corner of Bluffs Middle School.

BMS southeast 1

A third rack at Bluffs Middle School, also at the southeast corner, gets some tree shade in the afternoon.

Downtown Scottsbluff

The decorative bike racks in downtown Scottsbluff are wonderful – they are out in front of businesses and creative to boot! My only quibble is that people may not know the sculptures are bike racks – I once saw a family clogging the sidewalk with their bikes in front of Runza, while the nearby french fry rack was empty.

A note to the users of downtown bike racks:
Cycling on downtown sidewalks is prohibited by ordinance. To use these bike racks, the recommended method is to:
*Arrive on the street downtown via Avenue A or 1st Avenue and turn onto the side street closest to your destination
*Signal to pull over to the curb
*Dismount and walk your bike on the sidewalk to the bike rack

NOTE: THE “FOUNTAIN” RACK AT THE 18TH STREET PLAZA HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE 18TH STREET CLOSED.

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The rack in front of Bluffs Bakery. West side. Closest side street: 16th Street.

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The rack across from the Midwest Theater. West side. Midblock, closest side streets 18th / 17th Streets.

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The rack in front of Cappuccino & Company. This is the rack I most often see in use. East side. Closest side street: 17th Street.

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The rack in front of Western Trail Sports. West side. Cosest side street: 18th Street.

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The french fry rack near Runza. East side. Closest side street: 19th Street.

The Emporium

emporium

I love the front-and-center location of this bike rack, but it’s a bit awkward given the width of the sidewalk. If you don’t angle your bike, you wind up kind of blocking the sidewalk.

First United Methodist Church

first united methodist church

The bike rack at First United Methodist Church is located next to the handicap parking.

Guadalupe Center

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A very freshly placed bike rack.

Lied Scottsbluff Public Library

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The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library bike racks are an A+ in my book. Cute, sturdy, and located right in front of the library near the front doors.

Main Street Market

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Main Street Market moved its bike rack from an awkward parking lot island to a better spot right at the front of the store. Maybe not everyone has seen it yet. (See the bike in the background, far left, parked against the ramp railing.)

Monument Mall – Carmike Theater door

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A good location for a rack outside the mall’s movie theater.

Nutters

nutters

As befits a health food store, there is a bike rack right next to the front door at Nutter’s.

Panhandle Research and Extension Center

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The rack at the UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center gets points for being under the cover of a stairwell, despite being hidden out of the way near the south entrance to the building rather than the main entrance. Still, this seems geared more towards employees than visitors.

Regional West Medical Center

The only patient bike parking at the hospital complex appears to be near the Medical Plaza North entrance. However, when I had an appointment at Medical Plaza South, the valet offered to keep an eye on my bike if I parked it near his stand. RWMC facility maps do not indicate bicycle parking. (I intend to contact them to request an update.)

RWMC north plaza

Regional West Medical Center patient bike parking next to the north entrance, at the Birth & Infant Care Center. I wonder about the (abandoned?) bike locks on the rack.

RWMC staff

There is an under-cover bike rack on the north side of the Medical Plaza North building, but since it’s not near a public entrance, I assume this is for staff.

Saint Agnes Catholic Church / School

st agnes church and school

This rack is located off an alley between St. Agnes church and school. I’m not sure how useful it is here, as the ground has a significant slope that would make it very easy for a bike to tip over and bend a front wheel in the rack.

Safeway

#quaxing

The rack at Safeway would get an A+ in my book – it’s under cover and near the front door – except that it’s not bolted down and I’ve witnessed the rack migrating further and further from the door as space is used for retail displays.

Scottsbluff High School / Splash Arena

SHS splash

The rack outside the entrance to the Splash Arena also serves Scottsbluff High School. The many abandoned locks hanging from the rack look a little sketchy.

Target

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I’m not a fan of the bike parking at Target. The bollard-style bike lockup is sturdy, but it’s hidden on the north side of the building, away from the front doors, and . . . there’s that “no parking” sign – does that apply to bikes, too?? This seems an afterthought for employees and is not welcoming to customers.

Vertex

hidden rack

A super stealth bike rack hidden next to a fence. I wouldn’t have known it was there had someone not told me to look for it.

Walmart

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Can’t find the bike rack at Walmart? Look behind the trash can, behind the butt bin, hiding around the corner from the door. What an awful location!

walmart s

Yes, there are two racks at Walmart, one by each door, by they are not sited well. Despite being near the front doors, they are kind of hidden – not want you want in a bike rack. It’s also absolutely awful to try to ride through the chaotic parking lot.

Watering Hole

watering hole

I was surprised and pleased to spot a bike rack at a gas station.

Western Nebraska Community College – Conestoga Hall

WNCC residence hall

There’s a rack in front of Conestoga Hall. If you’re going to the WNCC multicultural center or Pioneer Hall, there are no bike racks – the Conestoga Hall rack is the closest one. On this day, I saw a bike parked next to a dumpster behind Pioneer Hall.

Western Nebraska Community College – Harms Center

HATC north

Another of my favorite bike parking spots in town, at the north entrance to the Harms Center. It’s right by the door, under cover AND not a wheel-bender-type rack.

HATC south

There’s also a bike rack by the south entrance to the Harms Center.

Western Nebraska Community College – Main Building

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The all-day full-sun bike rack near WNCC’s main entrance.

WNCC east door 14

There’s a bike rack at door 14 on the east side of WNCC’s main building. On this day, a bike was parked on the sidewalk nearby, in the shade. A bike seat in full sun gets pretty hot on a 102-degree day!

WNCC west door 8

There’s a “wave” bike rack outside of door 8 on the west side of WNCC.

Scottsbluff Y

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Unless you’re coming from the river pathway from the west, the Y is hard to bike to, but I’m glad it has a bike rack. Note the curious phenomenon in the background: people think that if you can park a bike there, you can park a motorcycle there, too.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except as noted

Fun new cycling event: Candy Corn Grab scavenger hunt

You guys! I’m so excited! There’s a new, fun, family-friendly cycling event in town: the Candy Corn Grab!

candy corn grab banner

For years I’ve wanted to re-experience the fun I had on a scavenger hunt ride back in Illinois. The great folks in the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club have pulled together the first such event here in the Nebraska Panhandle  Scottsbluff-Gering (That I know about, anyway.)

(UPDATE: There have been scavenger hunts in Bridgeport for the past three years. I’ve never attended, so I forgot about them. Oops! If you enjoy the Candy Corn Grab, watch in August for info on the Bridgeport ride.)

Here’s how it works:

You show up before 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 in the parking lot of Caddie’s/Monument Shadows Golf Course in Gering (2550 Clubhouse Dr.) with 1-3 other cyclists to create a team. All of you must be riding bicycles, and all of you must be wearing helmets (and wear them the whole time!). Bring some kind of digital camera for your team as well. You will be given a series of clues about locations throughout Scottsbluff-Gering.

Your objective: ride your bikes – together, as a team, safely, OBEYING ALL TRAFFIC LAWS – to as many clue locations as you can, keeping in mind that you must be back to the start line by 1 p.m. When you get to each clue location, take a digital picture of your entire team as proof you were there. The clue locations that are farther away are worth more points, so there is a strategy involved: ride to the faraway locations to get more points, or collect more proof pictures at the lower-value but easier-to-get nearby locations.

At the end of the event, you will show your digital pictures to prove you properly scavenged each location, and you’ll be given pieces of candy corn for the points you’ve earned on your scavenger hunt.

This is a great healthy family activity to burn off a few calories before the kiddos consume all the Halloween candy booty they’ll collect that night (or before the adults eat up the leftovers the day after).

A link to the official event flyer is posted here: candycorngrab

(LOVE how the WNBC logo was adapted to the candy corn theme!)

wnbc candy corn logo

So! Much! Fun!

See you there!

Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb 2015

Bugman and I got up early on Saturday morning and headed to Scotts Bluff National Monument to help out with the 2015 Oregon Trail Days Bicycle Hill Climb.

As usual, the scenery was divine in the early morning light.

There was also this interesting addition to the backdrop of the bluffs. I thought the truck was destined for the OTD parade later that morning, but I didn't see it. I guess this is just someone's car???

There was also this interesting addition to the backdrop of the bluffs. I thought the truck was destined for the OTD parade later that morning, but I didn’t see it. I guess this is just someone’s car???

This was the first year that members of the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club were organizing the event, having taken it over from previous volunteers.

Those orange WNBC shirts really stand out!

Those orange WNBC shirts really stand out!

I also have to give props to the staff members at Scotts Bluff National Monument – they were so wonderfully helpful.

They arrive extra-early to make sure the road would be safe for the bikers and took a sweeper to the road to clean up a bit of rock that had crumbled onto the road overnight.

They arrived extra-early to make sure the road would be safe for the bikers and took a sweeper up to clear off a bit of rock that had crumbled onto the road overnight.

I was glad to see some out-of-area cyclists signing up in addition to the locals.

registrationOne of the cool things about this time-trial ride (up 1.6 miles with an average grade of 5%) is that both hardcore and casual cyclists are welcome. There are some seriously fit riders who can hammer up the bluff in less than 7 minutes, and there are others who do it just to see if they can make it to the top. (I counted myself in the latter category when I completed the ride in 2010 and 2011.)

Bugman and I were assigned to the cheering section for the hill climb, as previously people have commented that the race course was kind of quiet.

Having ridden the bluff several times, we knew that the best place to station ourselves was probably just after the third tunnel, where the road starts to seem never-ending. We could advise the riders that there were “only four more curves to the top.”

We were offered a couple of cowbells to cheer with. I was a little dubious about this, as I considered it a bit early in the morning for cowbell, and it almost seemed sacrilegious to shatter the early stillness of the bluffs with all that clanging. At least some of the riders later said they appreciated it, though.

After the first few riders, we settled on a cowbell rhythm, which seemed much more tolerable than random clanging.

Bugman is also a percussionist (he's played drums in a few orchestras, garage bands, and big bands), so rhythm comes naturally to him. I just followed his lead.

Bugman is also a percussionist (he’s played drums in a few orchestras, garage bands, and big bands), so rhythm comes naturally to him. I just followed his lead.

I took a photo of nearly every rider who came up the bluff past the third tunnel. (If you rode and want your picture, drop me a line with your rider number and I’ll send you your picture.) Here’s one of the better photos I got:

Crowd favorite and perennial Hill Climb participant Joe Lichius, 74, won his category with a time of 25:33.

Crowd favorite and perennial Hill Climb participant Joe Lichius, 74, won his category with a time of 25:33.

Results for the 2015 event are here.

This hill climb is definitely a challenge (I heard a lot of “sprinter’s hack” after the event), but you can’t beat the scenery, and the camaraderie is pretty great, too. We were glad to be a part of it again this year on the volunteer side.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

I’ve already taken it upon myself to do blog posts about the highlights of the Monument Marathon course (in 2012, the first year of the race) and a mile-by-mile accounting of the course (in 2013). What more can I do to persuade people that the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska is The Place To Be?

How about a Top Ten list?

OK, here are:

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Run the Monument Marathon in western Nebraska

10. Unique division awards.

If you are fast enough to win a division award (and your chances are better here, with a smaller race field), you don’t get a generic plaque – you get a piece of original artwork from a western Nebraska artist! Photographer Rick Myers and painter Yelena Khanevskaya have been lending their talents to the race these past few years. Here are some examples of their work that have portions of the race course as their subject:

This Rick Myers picture was cropped from an image on his Facebook page.

This Rick Myers picture was cropped from an image on his Facebook page. Both the full and half marathon participants will run on this road through Mitchell Pass.

This image of a watercolor by Yelena Khanevskaya is one of many available on her website yelena-khanevskaya.squarespace.com

This image of a watercolor by Yelena Khanevskaya is one of many on her website. This view is of Mitchell Pass from the opposite direction of Rick Myers’ photo.

9. Convenience.

The race Expo and pre-race pasta feed is at the Gering Civic Center, just blocks from the race site.  There is ample, free parking at the race finish at Five Rocks Amphitheater. Half marathoners start and finish right there at the amphitheater. Full marathoners get a free shuttle bus to the race start and gear drop service. It’s easy to find your way around this small community, and it’s only a 3-hour drive from the major gateway cities of Denver, Colorado, and Rapid City, South Dakota.

The sunrise was incredible on Year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012. Here was the shuttle bus that year, in the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, ready to take full marathoners to their race start in the Wildcat Hills.

The sunrise was incredible on Year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012. Here was the shuttle bus that year, in the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, ready to take full marathoners to their race start in the Wildcat Hills.

8. History.

You will literally be running in the footsteps of westbound pioneers, as portions of the full and half marathon courses traverse the Oregon Trail, near where Mark Twain encountered a Pony Express rider. You will pass the gates of two neighboring history museums as well: Legacy of the Plains Museum and the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center at Scotts Bluff National Monument (the latter is a National Park site, so if you have a National Park passport, you can add another stamp to your collection!).

This map, from the website of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, which is right on the Monument Marathon course, shows some selected historical sites in the North Platte River Valley, which has been a transportation corridor for centuries. (It also shows the distance between Gering and selected cities.)

This map, from the website of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, which is right on the Monument Marathon course, shows some selected historical sites in the North Platte River Valley, which has been a transportation corridor for centuries. (It also shows the distance between Gering and selected cities.)

7. Field size.

The Monument Marathon is a small race, with around 500 participants total between the full and half marathon courses. You won’t have to worry about elbowing your way through a crowded field.

At the 2013 race, the field was small enough that the half marathon winner didn't even have anyone on his tail in the chute. Leaders from race title sponsor Platte Valley Companies hold the finisher tape. The community support for this race is wonderful!

At the 2013 race, the field was small enough that the half marathon winner didn’t even have anyone on his tail in the chute. Leaders from race title sponsor Platte Valley Companies hold the finisher tape. The community support for this race is wonderful!

6. Unique race swag.

Each participant will receive a wicking race shirt and a swag bag, which in past years has included such goodies as a bag of locally-grown beans and a cookbook. Your participant medal is shaped like the state of Nebraska and, because we are practical folk, your medal can also be used as a bottle opener. The design of the race medal changes every year – collect them all!

Here is the half marathon finisher medal from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

Here is the half marathon finisher medal from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

5. Charity.

Your registration dollars help support a good cause. Unlike so many marathons and half marathons these days that are operated by commercial interests, the Monument Marathon is coordinated by community organizations and volunteers in support of the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation. The Monument Marathon has helped to raise $150,000 for scholarships.

Here's a screen grab from a THANK YOU video the WNCC Foundation assembled. Your participation in the Monument Marathon helps students like these.

Here’s a screen grab from a THANK YOU video the WNCC Foundation assembled. Your participation in the Monument Marathon helps students like these.

4. Tourism opportunities.

While there are plenty of attractions to visit while you are here, the area remains off the beaten path, so you don’t have to fight the crowds. See here for my personal list of Top 10 Reasons to Come to Western Nebraska. See here for official Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau information, here for Gering tourism info, and here for information about the wider western Nebraska area.

There's no way I could decide which image to use of the tourism opportunities here: museums, hiking, bluffs, a CCC-built inland lighthouse . . . so, here's the logo of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau!

There’s no way I could decide which image to use of the tourism opportunities here: museums, hiking, bluffs, a CCC-built inland lighthouse . . . so, here’s the logo of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau!

And to represent the things you can do here (cycle, golf, stroll by the river, fish): the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau logo.

And to represent the things you can do here (cycle, golf, stroll by the river, fish): the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau logo.

3. The scenery.

People who have never been here before sometimes don’t believe it, but there is some seriously gorgeous topography out this way.

There are a thousand beautiful images I could have chosen to represent western Nebraska scenery, but I decided to go with this one - it's a view from the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, where the race ends. Even the parking lot of the race has great scenery!

There are a thousand beautiful images I could have chosen to represent western Nebraska scenery, but I decided to go with this one – it’s a view from the parking lot of Five Rocks Amphitheater, where the race ends. Even the parking lot of the race has great scenery!

2. Top-notch organization.

The Monument Marathon is a well-organized affair, with numerous experienced runners on the race crew and a professional timing company to assist with the chip-timed race. The entire community is involved and invested in the race, which means we have great coordination with local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, and transportation officials. (Case in point: The local Nebraska Department of Roads project manager made sure to include a stipulation in their summer highway construction contract to ensure that roads will be open for race – without the race director even having to ask them to!)

Community EMS volunteers from multiple agencies come out early and support the entire race to ensure everyone has a safe race. Did you know? There is even a relay tower placed on top of Scotts Bluff National Monument during the event to ensure clear EMS radio communication.

Community EMT volunteers from multiple agencies come out early and support the entire race to ensure everyone has a safe race. Did you know there is even a relay tower placed on top of Scotts Bluff National Monument during the event to ensure clear EMT radio communication?

1. Small-town hospitality.

Western Nebraska is the kind of place where residents will greet you with genuine friendliness. We tend to go out of our way to make sure you have a good experience so you will tell your friends about us and come back for a repeat visit yourself. Hundreds of community volunteers will assist and cheer for you on race day. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of course volunteers and cheerleaders.

The drizzle on year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012 didn't dissuade this racing fan!

The drizzle on year 1 of the Monument Marathon in 2012 didn’t dissuade this racing fan!

The Pine Ridge Agency Singers sang encouragement songs to runners as they came up a final hill on the Monument Marathon half/full course in 2013.

The Pine Ridge Agency Singers sang encouragement songs to runners as they came up a final hill on the Monument Marathon half/full course in 2013.

An Elmo balloon photobombs these colorful race fans from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

An Elmo balloon photobombs these colorful course marshals / race fans from the 2014 Monument Marathon.

If you don’t quite trust the wonderful things I’m saying about the Monument Marathon (yeah, I’m a bit biased, since I’m on the planning crew), check out the reviews and blog posts from runners who have actually run the race.

Sign up today! You’ll make the race director’s heart happy. 🙂

Y Not Ride 2015 – mini tandem rally?

Saturday was a beautiful day for the Y Not Ride mini tandem rally. Temps started in the 50s and climbed into the 70s under mostly clear skies. The ride started at 8 a.m. with no wind, but it soon picked up to 15 mph out of the west, giving those of us headed towards Bayard a nice boost, but draining carb stores on the route back west towards Scotts Bluff National Monument.

I don’t know how many people registered for the four routes this year, but the YMCA parking lot was decently full of bikes. Alas, I forgot to take a picture!

An interesting point about this year’s ride – there were at least five tandem bicycles, including yours truly – Wyobraska Tandem, and a recumbent tandem!

It’s turning into a mini tandem rally!

Here is a portion of the mini tandem rally in the parking lot of Scotts Bluff National Monument. The bike at right is a tandem - it's just turned at the wrong angle to see it.

Here is a portion of the mini tandem rally in the parking lot of Scotts Bluff National Monument. The bike at right is a tandem – it’s just turned at the wrong angle to see it.

So a quick note to folks who say “i saw you on your tandem this weekend” – unless it’s a red Co-Motion tandem, it’s not us! We’re not the only tandem in town.  🙂

Thanks to the folks who organized, volunteered for and sponsored the ride, and to the Bayard Depot Museum and Scotts Bluff National Monument for serving as rest stop hosts!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw