Dan Tillis, of Neligh, participated in the 39th annual Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska June 2-8, but his trip began two years ago with a challenge from a buddy. Ride the Cowboy Trail from Valentine to Norfolk.
Tillis accepted the challenge, dug his 20-year-old bicycle out of storage and started getting in shape. After about a year of training, and purchasing a new bicycle, Tillis made the trek in May 2018.
The following month, as part of the Great Cycle Challenge, he rode 500 miles. Each mile raised $1 toward kid’s cancer research. On the website he stated he was “doing this because cancer has already affected my life and family too much and I want to contribute to research to help minimize or end this terrible illness.”
He also participated in the 2018 Tour de Nebraska, traveling 246 miles in five days from Plainview to Neligh, O’Neill, Niobrara and back to Plainview.
This year, Tillis decided to participate in the Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska. Riders had the option of riding the Cowboy Trail as well as paved highway shoulders as they traversed the state from Chadron and continued with overnight stops in Gordon, Cody, Ainsworth, Atkinson, Neligh and Clarkson, before ending in Fremont, Saturday, June 8.
He took his ride a bit further by beginning Saturday, June 1 at the Wyoming/Nebraska border before meeting the BRAN riders in Chadron Sunday, June 2. He finished with the riders in Fremont, but continued on his own to the Nebraska/Iowa border. At each border he took a photo to “show my accomplishment.”
Tillis decided to participate in the Great Cycle Challenge again this year, but doubled his miles (and dollars) from 500 to 1,000 for the month of June. He has currently ridden 499 miles and raised $655.73 of his $1,000 goal.
One thing Tillis says he enjoys about his rides are the interesting people he meets who come from all over. “People start (rides from) everywhere.” He likes participating in the group rides because of the support. “If you are going to run across the state, it’s nice to have help around if something major breaks,” he said. It’s also nice to have someone else to carry belongings instead of trying to pack them all on the bicycle. “It gets pretty heavy.”
When asked if he will continue riding in groups and for a cause next year, he said, “Sure. We’ll see what next year brings.”