After taking a year off, the cycling event will be back for 2021, but things will be looking a lot different.

2020 wasn’t a great year for any international event. With travel bans and gathering limits imposed due to the pandemic, events like the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay (KCIBR) were practically off the table, especially because of how suddenly COVID-19 gripped the world.
While not everything is back to normal, KCBIR is technically still happening this year, though things will look very different. The event has become a virtual version of itself, so it can work within guidelines. Instead of the typical relay from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska, this year’s KCBIR will be a ride people can attend from their backyards or neighbourhoods.

“It’s not a race,” said coordinator Mia Lee. “It’s an event.”
This year, the board of directors for KCIBR realized the relay wouldn’t happen in its usual format because the borders remain closed between Canada and the U.S.A. Rather than postpone the event again, the board decided to change it up for the year, putting together what would end up being an entirely different event.

“The idea of posting a modified race would require us to develop a whole new route and have COVID measures in place, which would take a great deal of planning,” Lee explained. “We would not have had the amount of time to pull it off properly.”
The team decided to err on the side of caution and present the event in a way that anyone could attend, regardless of gathering limits and travel restrictions. The virtual event will allow riders to use any kind of bicycle, including (just for this year) e-bikes. It’s still an outdoor event though, so indoor bikes like trainers will not be permitted.

Riders can ride on any road surface they like, including gravel, mountain bike trails or the road, and take on as many legs as they want. Teams are also allowed as long as their members follow their local guidelines. The racers will all be connected virtually, racing together in all but physical location. In order to mimic what the race is normally like, the virtual version will consist of eight legs for a total of 240 kilometres.
“This can be done anywhere in the world since it’s virtual.”

The 2021 edition of the KCIBR will take place from June 12 to June 20. Registration is $20, and can be done through the relay’s website. Registration starts on May 7. It’s unclear what the turnout will be like for a virtual version of the KCIBR, which usually fills up in 10 days and consists of roughly 1,200 riders. Despite the uncertainties, Lee and the other board members have enjoyed the challenge of adapting an event like this to a virtual format.

“We just want to celebrate riding bicycles,” said Lee. “We want to get people back in the saddle and back outside.”
For more info and registration, visit kcibr.org.

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