Inaugural Robidoux Quick & Dirty, a volunteer perspective

From the indications I saw as a Western Nebraska Bicycling Club volunteer on the sidelines, the first Robidoux Quick & Dirty gravel race through some of western Nebraska’s most scenic countryside was a great success.

I’ve participated in running races, and I’ve ridden on some long bike tours, but I’ve never participated in a bike race, so I was interested to see it all unfold.

I’ll unroll a bit of commentary and more than a few images here from the perspective of the three places I was stationed (or decided to station myself). This inaugural year, there was the 76-mile race as well as a 28-mile “fun ride.”

Part 1: The Meet & Greet

All race participants needed to check in at the start/finish area of Five Rocks Amphitheater during the meet & greet, and the community was invited to come out, buy a brat or a beer (Good beer! – they had Kinkaider!), and check out the bikes. It was a great evening.

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Entertainment from the Green Valley Homesteaders set the mood.

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Staking out the bikes with soft rope. Why? The better to see them, my dear!

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Loook at all the bikes!

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A great opportunity for geeky bike talk.

I still don’t know that much technical stuff about bikes, so I pretty much just looked at the pretty / interesting ones.

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Cue sheet ready to go for the morrow!

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Love the colorful spokes!

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Bike with panache – and a mustache!

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Wizard troll head, protector of the quick release.

Part 2: the official start

The RQ&D racers got a rolling start, traveling 1.5 miles from Five Rocks Amphitheater to the official start of the race on County Road R east of Highway 71 behind an escorting Gering PD vehicle.

I positioned myself at the CR R / Hwy 71 intersection to take pictures. Once I got there, I decided that the official start needed a claxon or something to announce the moment. No claxon had I, so I gave it a go with my (genuine South African!) vuvuzela. Thus was how I came to be juggling my camera and blowing the vuvuzela at the same time, which is why many of the pictures aren’t well framed or focused. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. (Hereafter called “the vuvuzela excuse.”)

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The CERT team is on the (volunteer) job!

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Here they come! The racers are in the distance on Five Rocks road, behind the Gering PD pickup truck.

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County sheriffs block the highway crossing. (Thanks guys!!)

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Closer!

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Closer!!

OVERWHELMED BY A MASS OF BICYCLISTS!

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I missed a bunch of the first riders. Vuvuzela excuse!

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Yeah, there were some super-speedy cyclists who train on Colorado mountains, but there were a lot of recreational cyclists and some families, too, who were just out to have a good time.

Part 3: Rifle Sight Water Stop

This was my official volunteer assignment: the 12:30-3 shift at the Rifle Sight Water Stop. I’ve never worked a water stop before at any kind of race, so I found myself a little nervous. What do I need to do? What should I say (or not say) to the tired riders as they come up that looooong hill on Rifle Sight Pass Road?

I was so wrapped up in providing sustenance, for a time I completely forgot my other duty: to take pictures of the riders.

My photographer memory was jogged by the water stop mascot – an attention-seeking black-and-white cat.

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Bugman gave kitty some water. She (he?) brought us a half-dead mole as a token of her (his?) thanks.

The cat got plenty of loves from the cyclists.

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And now, the few action shots I was able to capture between the time I remembered my duty and when I was relieved at the end of my shift:

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A WNBC jersey! I love this one. Ride strong, Lisa!

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I remember these guys were from Wyoming.

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Another WNBC jersey. Go, Allison!

And one last picture, of Matt Hutt, the WNBC brains and brawn behind the organization of the event, ringing a cowbell at the finish. He was everywhere on race day. Props to you, Matt!

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And a parting shot for you cyclist readers of this post:  check out the next WNBC-sponsored race: the Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb on Saturday morning, July 9, 2016, up Scotts Bluff National Monument. Casual riders welcomed!

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

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Wyobraska bike events 2016

Given that there seems to be a proliferation of bicycling events in the Wyobraska region of late, I wanted to start a list page for folks seeking such info. Let me know of additional events I need to add.

For a list of local bike events and Western Nebraska Bicycling Club events, as well as non-local events WNBC club members are attending, see the group Google calendar.

Y Not Ride community ride starts at the Scottsbluff Y.

Y Not Ride community ride starts at the Scottsbluff Y.

Saturday, May 7, 2016
Y Not Ride, community road/path ride
Scottsbluff
This is a casual and family-friendly season-opener ride sponsored by the Scottsbluff Y. Route options include 3, 9, 28, and 54 miles. This is a supported ride with SAG vehicles and snack stops. The shorter routes are on bike path and bike lanes in town and cost $5 ($15 max per family). The longer routes are primarily on inter-community highways cost $10 ($30 max per family). All routes start and end at the Scottsbluff Y. April 18 registration deadline to guarantee a t-shirt ($11 short-sleeve or $13 long-sleeve). Otherwise, you can register at 7 a.m. the day of the ride, which starts at 8 a.m. Registration forms available at the Y or register online.

Sunday, May 22, 2016
Robidoux Quick & Dirty, gravel grinder race / recreational gravel ride [inaugural year!]
Gering
This is a race on rural, mostly gravel roads, but casual riders are welcome as well. Just be aware that, like most gravel grinder races, this ride is minimally supported. Also note: this course is not flat! There is over 4,000 feet of climb on the full race route. Registration for the 75-mile race is $55 and must be completed online by May 1. Registration for the 28-mile recreational ride is $20 on May 21, the day of packet checkin. Riders must check in Saturday, May 21, at the meet-and-greet, 4-7 p.m. at Five Rocks Amphitheater. Both rides begin with a rolling start from Five Rocks Amphitheater, which is also the finish line. There is a cap of 200 riders. To register and for more info, see the event website.

Sunday-Monday, July 3-4, 2016
Tour de La Grange, overnight road tour
Mitchell
This ride, organized by the Mitchell Evangelical Free Church, is a supported out-and-back ride on paved roads from Mitchell to La Grange, Wyoming, about 55 miles per day. Sunday night tent camping in a park or a dormitory stay – enjoy the fireworks and ice cream social. Gear transport and meals will be available. Registration cost $35. For information see the event Facebook page or the church website.

Early morning registration at the Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb.

Early morning registration at the Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb.

Saturday, July 9, 2016
Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb, road time trial
Gering
Racers in this perennial Oregon Trail Days event will ascend to the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument on the paved 1.6-mile Summit Road (average 5% grade). Registration opens at 6 a.m., and riders are released one at a time beginning at 7 a.m. There are road bike and mountain bike divisions for men and women. Cost is $20. Preregister by July 1 to guarantee a shirt. There is a cap of 90 riders. For more information, see the event website.

A rider southbound on Highway 71 passes through gorgeous High Plains scenery enroute from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument to Scotts Bluff National Monument.

A Monument to Monument Y Not Challenge Ride participant passes through gorgeous late-summer High Plains scenery enroute from Agate Fossil Beds National Monument to Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Saturday, September 10, 2016
Y Not Ride Challenge, aka Monument to Monument, road ride
Gering
This is the Scottsbluff Y’s season-closing challenge ride. Route options include 50 and 100 miles – ride from Scotts Bluff National Monument to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and back (100 miles), or use the shuttle and bike trailer service to ride one-way only (50 miles), either to Agate or to Scotts Bluff. This is a supported ride with a SAG vehicle with snacks/water. Sandwiches are served at Agate for participants between 10:30-noon. There are hills on this scenic paved rural highway route, most of which has no shoulder. Riders on the 100-mile and “to-Agate” 50-mile route leave Scotts Bluff National Monument at 7 a.m. Riders on the “to-Scotts-Bluff” 50-mile route leave Scotts Bluff National Monument on the bus at 10 a.m. (please arrive by 9 a.m. to load your bike). For up-to-date information about the event and registration, see the event website.

A new gravel bike race in Wyobraska

I’m proud to see how western Nebraska is getting into the “fun fitness” scene. First, it was the Monument Marathon starting in 2012. Now, it’s the area’s first “gravel grinder” bike race, the Robidoux Quick & Dirty, debuting this spring, May 22, 2016, shepherded along by members of the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club.

The RQ&D is a 75-mile bike race that’ll be run primarily on gravel roads (88% gravel, 12% asphalt) in the Wildcat Hills area of Scotts Bluff County in western Nebraska, which is just a 3-hour drive from Denver, CO, or Rapid City, SD. This is in the most scenic western part of the state, so it is not a flat ride (about 4,000 feet of climb), and it’s also at an elevation of about 4,000 feet.

I’ve not gone out and ridden the course myself, but I do have photos I took while I was in the race territory for other reasons in past years.

From A visit to one of the newer public lands in Western Nebraska:

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There are a lot of turkeys in them thar hills.

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Typical piney ridge in the Wildcat Hills.

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This is open range. Gotta watch that!

The route goes right past the parking areas for Carter Canyon Ranch, and also for Montz Point Ranch and Bead Mountain Ranch, as well as passing through Scotts Bluff National Monument.

From Monument Marathon and its western Nebraska scenery (the bike race shares a few portions of the course with the marathon):

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The path of the old Oregon Trail through Mitchell Pass is in part under the road going through Scotts Bluff National Monument.

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This nasty little hill comes just after a peaceful circumnavigation of a historic cemetery.

From Views from a hike:

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Yes, there is a portion of the RQ&D race that traverses private land. The landowners have given permission for riders to enter the property ON THE DAY OF THE RACE ONLY. Please respect what is effectively someone’s ranch yard – don’t ride this section of race other than on the day of the event. If anyone abuses this privilege, it will likely be revoked in the future.

This is really beautiful countryside to ride through. I much prefer to see it from a bike saddle than from a car window. You really get a feel for the place from a bike.

A few more details:

While this is a race and you can win prize money, much like the Monument Marathon the RQ&D also welcomes people who simply want to go out for a challenge and complete the course.

Unlike the Monument Marathon, which has a lot of on-course support, this bike race is designed for participants to be a lot more self-sufficient. There are a couple of water stops, but this ride is on rural county roads, and you’ll be on your own for a lot of the time. Pack supplies in on your bike (and pack out your trash, too). You also have to obey traffic signs (unless a course marshal flags you through), and you need an odometer on your bike, to help you navigate on this out-in-the-boonies race and to prove you’re not cutting corners. No non-rider family/friends allowed out there for course support, either.

Race day: Sunday, May 22, 2016, 8 a.m. start

Packet pickup: Saturday, May 21, 2016

Registration: open until May 1 or limit of 200 riders, whichever comes first

Fee: nonrefundable $55

For more information and to register, check out the race website here: Robidoux Quick & Dirty.

Happy trails!

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw