Although the first NUMB did not happen until 1996, the beginning of NUMB dates back to 1992. Bill Ritter and Greg Bakewell had never met and both signed up for a Habitat for Humanity Charity Ride in the Spring of 1992. Bill spied Greg pulling a trailer with his baby up a hill on this Habitat Ride and pulled alongside for a little chat about bike trailers. The conversation somehow got around to church and both Greg and Bill were United Methodists—Greg from Faith Westwood and Bill from Elkhorn Hills.
Later that summer they hooked up again on BRAN 1992. Bill and Greg would run into each other many times on bike rides over the next couple of years and a friendship was solidified.
It was probably on BRAN 1995 while the two of them were sitting out a rain storm in a hog barn in northern Nebraska, trying to escape the near freezing temperature, that NUMB started to take shape. Bill had just come from a state-wide United Methodist meeting where Nebraska Conference Hunger Committee Chair, David Jefferson shared his frustration over the fact that the UMC had many wonderful Hunger projects but they were lacking in funding and publicity to make them effective.
Shivering in that hog barn near Creighton, Nebraska Bill and Greg decided to start their own bike ride and raise money and publicity for the United Methodist Nebraska Conference Hunger Committee Projects. Bill came up with the catchy name NUMB—Nebraska United Methodist Bike ride for Hunger and the two of them started making plans.
It started in 1996 with people more dedication to the cause of feeding the hungry than riding bikes. Multiple days of 85+ miles and a 107 mile day didn’t help matters. Greg came up with a great idea to change our format and make the ride more friendly to all bikers. A circle route with daily mileage around 65 miles began the following year.
Over the years some of those first participants became good riders and invited their friends and the word got out. In our 15th year we covered all 93 Nebraska counties and donations approached a half million dollars.