More cyclists than ever before participated in Saturday’s Robidoux Rendezvous race. A total of 588 riders set off on four different courses, each experiencing the off-road beauty western Nebraska has to offer.
“It’s a longer race than I’ve ever done before,” Chase Robertson of Boulder, Colorado, said. “I haven’t really ridden in Nebraska before, so I’m excited to challenge myself and see what Nebraska’s got to offer.”
Robertson competed in the 100-mile race Saturday, June 25. There were also 67-mile, 46-mile and 25-mile options for competitors to try. The longer races started earlier, when temperatures were low and thick grey clouds blanketed the sky.
“I think the cooler conditions and a little bit of moisture in the air will prevent anyone from overheating. Everyone will be at the top of their game, I’d imagine,” Robertson said.
With temperatures in the 70s, race organizer Aaron Raines told the racers that Saturday brought the best weather they’d had during the eight-year history of the Robidoux Rendezvous. Many of the cyclists, including Robertson, had never been to the area before, and this was their first experience with western Nebraska.
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“I think it’s a lot of word of mouth,” Raines said of the high turnout.
People who compete in the Rendezvous post about it on social media and talk about the race with their friends, leading others to want to try it for themselves.
Additionally, the sponsors of the race include many companies which prospective riders would be familiar with.
“We always have a lot of cycling sponsors rather than necessarily local sponsors, and that helps a lot. Those brands are communicating directly with the people we’re communicating with,” Raines said.
Many of the racers were part of the Ride or Die Collective, a women’s cycling organization based out of Boulder. They host rides and other community events throughout the Boulder and Denver areas. Lisa Jancy, a member of the group who rode in the 67-mile race, said her friends in the organization had recommended she try out the Robidoux Rendezvous.
Though Jancy is a newer member of the Ride or Die Collective, she still has years of cycling experience.
“I used to race road and cyclocross as well, for several years. I wanted to stay riding on dirt and when I moved out to Colorado, I wanted to continue doing that and gravel was a good fit,” she said. “…A new course is always fun.”
Chris and Kathrine Eckstadt, also Coloradans, rode in the Rendezvous for the first time. They heard about the race through social media.
The pair have been cycling for around a decade and chose to compete in part because of how close the race would be to their home.
“It looked like a really pretty ride,” Chris Eckstadt said. “We decided to come check it out.”
Raines said there were some mechanical and other issues that forced people to drop out, but for the most part everyone was able to complete their chosen race. Even locals to the area enjoyed their experiences.
“It’s a beautiful ride and it made me fall in love with where I came from all over again,” Scottsbluff native Anna Wiebe said.
She said her whole family signed up to participate in or help with the race.
Others enjoyed the varied terrain of the race courses. Mitchell resident Judy Wilson said she bought a fat-tired, dirt-traversing bike specifically to ride in the race.
“Going up to Carter Canyon is beautiful,” she said. “We have beautiful scenery out here and people really need to get out and enjoy it.”
When cyclists returned to Five Rocks Amphitheater, they enjoyed snacks, shade and musical performances.