The smiles said it all.
With COVID-19 still hanging overhead, a chance to be outdoors with co-workers, friends and family and enjoy a sense of normalcy was something to savor on Sunday.
Bicyclists participating in the annual Corporate Cycling Challenge rode through an artsy-industrial section of north downtown, around Carter Lake and north up Pershing Drive toward Fort Calhoun. More than 2,000 people signed up — double the number from last year, when the pandemic led to many events being curtailed or canceled.
Bob Mancuso, organizer of the event, said the event typically draws more than 4,000 people, but last year, attendance dropped to about 1,000. This year’s numbers indicate that the ride is back on the upswing, he said.
Rhonda and James Keyes say the ride is something they look forward to every year. This year, it was a reminder, Rhonda Keyes said, of how precious it is to interact with others.
Corporate competition is built into the event. The Keyeses quipped that they hoped to help Nebraska Medicine beat CHI Health in team competition.
Bicyclist Tina Holland, who works for one of the event sponsors, American Laboratories, said she liked how the ride gives coworkers a chance to get to know each other better outside of work.
With her for the ride were her son Gunner and boyfriend, Dave Kappel.
Cyclists had their choice of routes that were about 10, 25 or 42 miles. The starting point was the Capitol District in downtown Omaha.
The event is a fundraiser for the Eastern Nebraska Trails Network, and over its 31 years, it has raised $185,000 for trails, Mancuso said.