Race organizer: Amber Hollmann
Start/Time: Holdrege Bike Bridge 8pm
End: The Old Pub
Weather conditions: 5 inches of snow, 20s
Not being confident that this is a universal truth, I will still nonetheless at least put this forth as a reputation: winter cyclists are a little crazy. Sure, most of the dieharders will have their steady 9-5s and steady families among other steady things, but amassing a group of cyclists – especially those psyched for a snow race – is one way to guarantee some measure of instability. When grandma hears I’ve been riding my bike in the snow and gasping for air ekes out her most sincere grandmotherly encouragement (“Well, be careful!”), I know I’ve fallen in with a fun crew.
Such we were, the 20-some-odd snow pirates that rallied on the Holdrege Bridge last Friday for a shloshing-good snow race, either with nothing better to do or only less-interestings to do. I came expecting a sense of camaraderie to instantly forge itself among the few, proud racers of the evening, assuming that only a handful of us would be high-fiving our way through the white streets. Much to my astonishment, there were 20+ present already and no more race cards! When I say cyclists are a little crazy, I suppose what I mean is a little awesome. Who knew so many would turn up in order to be sent out blitzing through the city over packed, powdered and treacherously quick-snowed streets.
We were given two checkpoints and a finish line, a simplified and improvised race that Amber had crafted hurriedly just hours before “GO!” set us loose. The hustle took us down Holdrege 20 blocks to the UNL East Campus Dairy Store where we found friendly Alex Reinkordt and hibernation expert Andrew Bedrous encouraging us to feed ourselves ice cream. Hopping on Holdrege again, we headed back to city campus where race correspondents awaited us at the Mueller Bell Tower. A Styrofoam cup with a shot of cocoa yum-yum liquor, ten spins around with a baseball bat (stick) held between our head/ground, and a dizzying jaunt around the tower on our bikes gave us the green light to barge on toward the finish at The Old Pub.
Arriving at the bar a cocktail of ice cream, cocoa, sweat and high-fives, I unburdened myself of exterior layers and enjoyed a nice cooling-off on the sidewalk of 11th street as Ryana Swift, who had eclipsed my panting self in the last three blocks of the race, had a victory smoke next to me. I was completely disheveled and happy to be finished, and as others continued to arrive we cheered them into the bar.
The prizes are not often in the forefront of my mind as a racer, but this one had a terrific painting by terrific painter Kim Brown in the mix.
Many of us paid the for a $1 raffle ticket to be in the drawing for any number of other prizes as well: bike-themed journals, Kum&Go boxers and tickets to the Prairie Pride film festival were among these second-tier trophies. After prizes and a brief “Thanks!” from Amber, we too thanked her with our cheers.
We might be a bit crazy in some minds, but a few other adjectives like “fun,” “eager,” and “friendly” define us just as aptly.