A total of 467 cyclists on the 32ndAnnual Tour de Nebraska bicycle adventure will roll out of Sidney on Wednesday, June 19 and travel five days to Kimball, Gering, Scottsbluff and Bridgeport in western Nebraska’s panhandle, according to Charlie Schilling, Event Director.
With this number of cyclists on this year’s Tour de Nebraska annual bicycle adventure, it’s even more critical for motorists and cyclists to use extra caution on the road.
“Our number one goal is to keep everyone safe. We provide information about proper safety rules and laws to all of our cyclists. They must wear helmets and we strongly suggest lights and mirrors to improve visibility and awareness,” said Schilling.
He wants to spread the word about how motorists can help in this effort. “In order to keep everyone safe, we all need to be courteous whether we’re in a vehicle or on a bicycle.”
Tips for Motorists
Nebraska law requires that the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall exercise due care, which shall include, but not be limited to, leaving a safe distance of no less than three feet clearance, when passing a bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Most motorists want to do the right thing around cyclists, but may be uncertain about what to do, Schilling said. He offered the following tips to motorists:
- Passing:Do not pass a cyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. Nebraska’s 3-foot law requires you to leave at least 3 feet between your vehicle and the bicycle. Make sure you account for your mirrors in the required 3-foot passing width, as serious accidents result from mirrors clipping cyclists. “Give us more than 3-feet if you can because the extra space allows cyclists the additional space in case they have to avoid a pothole, glass or other obstacles. Passing too closely can also create drag from your car that can pull a cyclist off balance and lose control,” Schilling said.
- Take it easy:Besides giving cyclists that extra breathing room, it's best for drivers to pass them slowly and smoothly. The motorist's tendency is to speed up and get by the cyclists as quickly as possible but, "It's pretty unnerving when you are on a bike and a car accelerates,” Schilling said.
- Honking:Avoid honking your horn, Schilling advises, because it might startle cyclists. Most cyclists wear mirrors and are aware of approaching vehicles. If you absolutely have to, just make it a “friendly tap of the horn” to let the cyclist know you are there.
Schilling and his staff works closely with the Nebraska State Patrol, County Sheriffs, the Nebraska Agency for Emergency Management and local law enforcement, which provide an extra layer of safety and support. This cooperation as led to a near stellar safety record for Tour de Nebraska, and he wants that to continue in 2019.
The noncompetitive circle tour will start and end in Sidney on Wednesday morning, June 19, and proceed to overnights at Kimball (Wednesday, 6/19), Gering (Thursday, 6/20), Scottsbluff (Friday, 6/21) and Bridgeport on Saturday 6/22) and back to Sidney on Sunday, June 23. Cyclists of all ages originate from 24 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin Wyoming and Canada.
Tour de Nebraska was created in 1988 by Rich and Susan Rodenburg of Lincoln. After 30 successful tours, the Rodenburgs sold the tour to Charlie and Kim Schilling in 2017. 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.
“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,” Schilling 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’re all bonded in one way or another.”
Impact on Local Economies
Throughout the year, Schilling and his staff work closely with host communities and communities along the route to provide overnight camping, meals, entertainment and support. “We rely heavily on support from our local communities and it’s a big part of the experience for our cyclists, so we do everything we can do to pump money back into the local economies,” he said.
The favorite rest stop and overnight host towns chosen by the riders receive cash awards. The Schillings offer the Tour de Nebraska Give Back Program, which offers grants to the overnight host communities. “It’s a token of thanks for their efforts and support,” Schilling said.
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,” Schilling said.
For more information about Tour de Nebraska, please visit: www.TourdeNebraska.com