BOONE — The 21st Blood, Sweat and Gears bike ride returns to the High Country June 22 with some new pathways and an old familiar friend.
Both the 95-mile and the 50-mile courses, according to BS&G board member JoLynn Mahoney, have undergone some changes because of work done on roads that were part of the courses. Ride officials decided to switch in different roads for safety reasons.
Road construction has made parts of the old course too difficult to compete safely, particularly in Todd. The BS&G website noted that “topcoat of very loose gravel without a bonding agent and remains a safety hazard for bicycles.”
“We have one thing or another happen with our roads,” Mahoney said. “It made them too dangerous for us to use.”
The one change that was not made on the 100-mile course is its signature obstacle — Snake Mountain.
The mountain, which has an elevation of 5,564, is still a part of the ride. It is not a part of the 50-mile course, but Mahoney said there are parts of the 50-mile course that has several climbs that will provide a challenge.
“They will do a fair amount of climbing along that route,” Mahoney said.
The 95-mile ride, which has 670 riders registered, begins at Valle Crucis School at 7:30 a.m. The 50-mile ride, which has 515 registered riders, begins at 7:45 a.m. Mahoney said the numbers may change with late registrations or riders who registered to ride the 95-mile course switching to the 50-mile course.
The 2018 ride was the first time there were more 50-mile riders than the 100-mile course. Riders can pick-up their information packets at Watauga High School beginning at 2 p.m. on June 21.
The scope of those who receive donations from the ride has widened from donating to Hospitality House to buying groceries for those struggling to make ends meet.
“Last winter, we had our winter warmer project and we supported local food banks,” Mahoney said. “We supported Hunger Health Coalition, we donated money to WAMY. We donated to Western Youth Network, we donated to individuals in the area and helped those with the usual issues such as fuel oil, coats and blankets.”