HIGH COUNTRY — Chalk up another High Country event cancellation to the COVID-19 virus.
The 22nd annual running of the Blood, Sweat and Gears Bike Ride, scheduled for June 27, was canceled May 1 because of the pandemic. It is the first time that the event has ever been canceled.
“Our decision to cancel BSG was not easy,” ride Director Jeffrey Viscount said. “Still, due to the continued uncertainty and restrictions, we felt it was in the best interest of our riders, the communities we serve and our partners and volunteers. The health and safety of everyone involved with BSG have always been our foremost priority.”
Blood, Sweat and Gears consists of two bike rides that originally started with a 100-mile course. The event grew popular enough that it eventually expanded to include a 45-mile course. The 100-mile course was shortened to a 95-mile ride last year, which was won by Michael Bissette with a time of four hours, 22 minutes and 53.39 seconds.
The ride has not just been a major sports event in the region, but also has been a key fundraiser for local nonprofit organizations.
“Proceeds from these events are redistributed to support local nonprofit organizations and to provide valuable resources for the under served and unmet needs of the High Country community,” according to the ride’s website www.bloodsweatandgears.org.
Last year, the 95-mile course had 670 riders register, while there were 515 registered for the 50-mile course.
Several riders of the smaller course will often try the longer course in later years.
It’s called a ride because the cyclists compete on roads that are still open to car traffic. The courses wind through roads in North Carolina and Tennessee.
“The level of disappointment is very high for everyone,” Viscount said. “BSG has become a premier community event that attracts thousands of people to the Boone area each year. But it’s the riders that feel the biggest disappointment. They have been training to do better, some for months, only to hear that they will have to wait until 2021.”
Refunds are being offered through the ride’s website. A rider can receive a refund, convert their registration fee to a donation or use it to register for the 2021 ride, which is June 26, 2021.
“While we continue to process rider designations, we are overwhelmed by the generosity of our participants,” Viscount said.