• 70°

Natchez Bicycle Classic will ride on Sept. 19

On Sept. 19, 2020, the Natchez Bicycle Classic will take place, starting on Broadway Street in front of the Natchez Grand Hotel and cyclists will be escorted to the Natchez Trace or Cemetery Road to travel their enlisted distances in two opposite directions of four varying lengths in a circumnavigation of Adams County of 57 miles maximum distance, either on the road or gravel, before returning to downtown Natchez over the course of six hours, from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. All event activities will take place outdoors. No indoor activities.

The Natchez- Adams County Chamber of Commerce organizers of the event are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the participants and volunteers involved. We are doing so by making it our top priority to adhere to Gov. Tate Reeves’ published orders related to COVID-19 as well as our local guidelines and precautions.

The Chamber of Commerce organizers have studied all state guidelines related to COVID-19 in addition to those of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Among the most important steps, all Chamber employees and Chamber-authorized volunteers will be provided and required to wear approved PPE masks. Riders who participate in the event will be advised prior to the event to wear masks and gloves when contact with volunteers is unavoidable or necessary.

Masks will be made available to riders at all pertinent locations. Also, the 6-foot minimum social distance guideline will be observed at all locations from the pre-ride to the conclusion of the event. The organizers will distribute the COVID-19 Event Plan to all participants and Chamber volunteers prior to the event and make a top priority to observe all the guidelines. Participants and volunteers will all be required to sign the COVID-19 waiver, which details the risks associated with participation in the event.

On Friday, Sept. 18, participants are given the opportunity to pick up their packet of ride-related materials and last-minute info at 100 Main Street. Packets will be organized at the Chamber in the week prior to the event and participants will pick them up from 100 Main between the hours of 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. all while wearing masks and remaining socially distant. No rider’s packet will be distributed unless we have a signed COVID-19 Waiver at packet pickup.

Chamber volunteers, wearing masks, will be stationed at each of the start areas along Broadway Street to assist riders positioning themselves in the proper location and ensure 6-feet social distance is observed.

Once the ride begins, participants will quickly spread out along the various routes that account for a total of 57 miles. Riders typically proceed on their bicycles at speeds ranging from less than 10 mph to as high as 30 mph. This has the effect of creating a very long, thin line of cyclists within minutes of the start time. The only point during the ride when this is not the case will be at the rest stop along the route. At the rest stop, Chamber volunteers will be available to direct riders to tables where the riders may retrieve individually packaged food and beverage items. Chamber volunteers will also be charged with controlling the total number of riders at the rest stop so that the maximum of 50 is not exceeded. Tables of food and beverages will be properly spaced and organized in such fashion as to maintain 6-foot social distancing among riders and volunteers at all times. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available for riders.

Riders will begin arriving in The Finish Area by 10 a.m. and conclude by 2:30 p.m. There will be distinct finish area zones for riders to make a brief ride recovery. Their ride recovery will consist of individually packaged food items and individual bottles or cans of various beverages. Since riders will arrive over the course of 3 1⁄2 hours and finishing zones are provided, no zone will be permitted to exceed the 50-rider limit at any time, or whatever number is the current outdoor limit. Each zone will have tables or seating areas spaced out at proper intervals to maintain social distancing. Tables and seating will be cleaned and disinfected by volunteers throughout the day between each rider’s use. Chamber volunteers will oversee each zone to ensure all guidelines are followed. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available for riders, along with hand-washing stations.

We’re communicating everything we’re doing to make sure our community feels comfortable having this event. We have had to cancel all indoor events/parties and replace it with rules and regulations. At the end of the day, the point of this ride is to get on a bicycle and do just that. Ride.

Sometimes getting down to the grass roots of an event isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes fluff can overshadow the point. Once you start adding, it’s harder to take away — so this might work out better for us being our first year. With the Young Professionals through the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce, we are taking every precaution so that cyclists may safely enjoy the outdoor sport that they have been missing due to an unprecedented global pandemic.

Sarah Lindsey Laukhuff, marketing & advertising chair for Natchez Young Professionals.