BRAN riders relax under a tent Sunday. Charging stations for phones and other electronic devices were available to riders. (Johnson Publications photo.)
From right, Doug Martin of LIncoln, John Richardson or Kirksville, Missouri, and Kent Baker of Lincoln relax in the shade of a BRAN truck in Imperial Sunday. (Johnson Publications photo.)
Ritchie and Coni Meyer of Page, Nebraska ride up a hill on Highway 61 coming into Imperial. Members of the Imperial BRAN committee placed signs along sections of Highway 61 to alert drivers of the bicylists on the road. (Johnson Publications photo.)
BRAN stay in Imperial rated a success
Imperial played host to several hundred visitors on Sunday.
The Nebraska Rod and Custom Association (NRCA) had about 400 cars stop at the school for about an hour Sunday morning, arriving and leaving town in two shifts.
Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) had about 400 riders plus followers spend Sunday night at the Chase County Schools’ football field.
The two groups had the stretch of Highway 61 between Grant and Imperial where they shared the road.
With no shoulder, this could have been a big problem, but BRAN president/director Wes Galusha thought otherwise.
“People really enjoyed watching the cars go by,” Galusha said.
“It was really an example of how to share the road.”
This was the 38th year for BRAN, a nonprofit organization based in Omaha.
Galusha said they have 28 different states and two different countries represented this year.
They also had multiple types of bikes, including some recumbent bicycles (where the rider is in a laid-back, reclining position) and even some tandem bicycles (multiple seats).
Galusha has been a director or co-director for the tour since 2003.
“I’ve always been interested (in bicycles),” Galusha said.
“I was a rider before I ever joined the organization.”
Galusha doesn’t actually ride a bicycle on the tour, though, since he has to be available to help other riders as a staff member of BRAN.
While BRAN is a camping bicycle tour, Galusha said the riders don’t have to worry about toting their gear across the state.
A big Penske truck follows the riders, carrying all of their tents and overnight equipment.
“We also have trucks going up and down the road all day long until the last person gets in. Just so we have everybody protected,” Galusha said.
There are also BRAN staff stopped every 10 miles with water and snacks.
Galusha, as well as many of the riders, were thankful for the good weather on Sunday, which some called “near perfect.”
The forecast had originally called for a nearly 20 mph headwind for the riders, but that changed to a light breeze.
While Galusha has visited Imperial before, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“Every town has its own culture,” he said.
Galusha added the communications made between the riders and the locals are what make any stop interesting.
“Otherwise, what’s the point?” he asked.
One thing BRAN does is give scholarships to the hosting towns.
“They have to be used by seniors from those towns going to school in Nebraska,” Galusha said.
He said it’s one way they are trying to encourage people to stay in Nebraska.
“ ’Cause this is the backbone of Nebraska, not Omaha,” he said.
“Most of those Omaha businesses are ag-based, so if you don’t have these small, western and central Nebraska ag towns, those places in Omaha and Lincoln wouldn’t thrive,” Galusha said.
“People don’t really understand that relationship.”
Imperial only had one local rider take part in the tour.
Deb Harmon stayed overnight in Ogallala Saturday to be ready to leave for Imperial the next day.
“I’ve never done a multiple-day ride,” Harmon said.
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