Nate Whitman was nearing the edge of his 100-mile ride when he realized something — he’d been in the spot before.
“Do you want to hear something funny?” he asked as he rested for a minute after crossing the finish line.
Whitman, from Evergreen, Colorado, and his family visited in 2017 when thousands of others flocked to the area for the total solar eclipse. He had read that Scottsbluff was a prime viewing area.
“I saw this race and I saw Scottsbluff/Gering but I didn’t really put two and two together,” he said.
He’d decided to participate in the Robidoux Quick and Dirty on Sunday since it was one of the only races in the country that actually took place.
Overall, the race went well, he said. It was a beautiful ride, but the wind posed a challenge.
“I’ve been racing for 20 years,” he said. “I am 99 percent certain I can say this was the most persistently windy race.”
Gusts of 36 miles per hour were recorded, with the highest consistent wind speed being about 28 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
“There are a lot of mind games,” he said. “You keep telling yourself you’ll’ get a tailwind anytime.”
On his way to the finish, he passed through the line of trees at West Lawn Cemetery and it felt familiar.
“That little cemetery is exactly where I cam with my wife and kids,” he said. “I turned and saw those trees and the bluffs and I was like ‘that’s right where we were.’”
In 2017, he was gathered with strangers, all there for one shared moment. This time, he was determined to finish the last few miles of a race he’d finish second in.
He didn’t mind coming in behind Ashton Lambie, a 29-year-old world record holder.
“I’ve very happy with second,” he said. “I’ll take it almost like a win.”
Whitman said he enjoyed the course and the beauty of the area. Organizer Aaron Raines said he heard other riders share the sentiment.
“People had a lot of good things to say,” he said. “They loved the area and they’re planning on coming back.”
About 175 cyclists participated in this year’s Quick and Dirty, and despite so many unknowns earlier in the year Raines said it went well.
“We’re one of the few races nationally that went off without much of a hitch,” he said.
Part of that, he added, is because of the community’s support and willingness to give cyclists some space.
“Thank you for letting us be out on the road hassle-free,” he said. “We appreciate all the folks who are mid-harvest, using the roads and keeping it safe.”
He said the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club is already planning for 2021’s event and volunteers are welcome to start reaching out. Those who are interesting in being part of the club are also encouraged to get in touch and can do so via the club’s Facebook page.
“We’re always looking for folks to come and enjoy rides together.”
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