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TAKING THE VIRTUAL ROUTE – The Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay will be held virtually in 2021. Pictured: cyclists begin the journey starting in Haines Junction headed toward Haines, Alaska.

International bike relay turns virtual

The popular Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay (KCIBR), cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be back for 2021 – just with a different look.

By John Tonin on February 18, 2021

The popular Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay (KCIBR), cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be back for 2021 – just with a different look.

Like many other organizations, the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay board of directors has decided on a virtual event.

The primary goal of the board in holding a virtual event, according to the KCIBR website, is to ensure the safety of all entrants, volunteers, and members of the community

"Last year was tough with so many unknowns," said Sue Johnson, who sits on the KCIBR board. "But, we know where to go now. The Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay is the most popular event for Yukon cycling.

"We don't want people to forget or lose interest in it."

Because the KCIBR is virtual, Johnson said it will be a participation event with no official timers. Instead of bikers getting awarded for fastest times, entrants will be put into a draw for prizes.

"This is a participation event," said Johnson. "We just want to get people on their bikes. There are no set routes, choose the distance you want. You can form a team or do the ride solo.

"One thing is you must ride outside, no trainer. We wanted to make it not so virtual that you can just sit on a trainer.

In normal, non-pandemic years, the KCIBR starts in Haines Junction and follows the highway to Haines, Alaska. Because the 2021 event is virtual, riders can use any bike they desire.

"Do any kind of biking you want, road biking, mountain biking of a fat bike," said Johnson. "Bike on any surface. We want to make the ride inclusive and allow people anywhere to participate."

To remain flexible to possible changes in COVID guidelines and protocols, entrants into the virtual ride can complete their chosen distance anytime between July 12-21.

"Everyone has had to be creative, and that's OK," said Johnson. "You need to be flexible for things to happen."

Even if COVID restrictions lift by July, Johnson said the race will remain virtual for the year.

"There are too many logistics that we won't go back to normal if things change," said Johnson. "Pulling together a race for 1,200-plus would be difficult.

"At this point, usually everything is already lined up."

Registration for the 2021 Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay won't open until March. Johnson said there will be one more board meeting to shore up a few "things still up in the air" before announcing registration.

"It will be interesting to see what happens when registration opens," said Johnson. "It is open to a wide variety of riders and we don't have a cap."

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