The Tour de Frederick won’t look the way it usually does, with hundreds of bicyclists congregating and riding through Frederick County. Instead, the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County will hold the Tour de Frederick (TDF) as a socially-distanced ride spread over the course of 16 days.
The coronavirus pandemic already canceled many of the Boys and Girls Club’s fundraising events, including their annual golf tournament. But Kelly Jarvis, director of special events, said she and the planning committee wanted to ensure the TDF happened. She called upon the national organization’s slogan: “Whatever it takes.”
“It was absolutely unanimous that we had to do something, that we had to continue the event,” Jarvis said. “And that we would do whatever it takes to accomplish the fundraising for the Boys and Girls Club.”
This is the 12th annual Tour de Frederick, which typically takes place over the course of one or two days. The Rotary Club of Carroll Creek is partnering with the event as they usually do, but working hard behind the scenes instead of volunteering at a physical event.
Jarvis new a lot of participants would still be willing to ride their bikes either alone or in small groups, since outdoor exercise has alway been permitted under the Governor’s guidance. While cutting the large congregation at the beginning and end of the event might lose some of its appeal, she considered it the only safe way to move forward.
In 2019, around 700 riders participated in the TDF, 163 of which were fundraisers. While everybody pays a registration fee and has the opportunity to donate additionally, fundraisers join up in teams and asks family and friends to support them in their ride.
“We have some people who are doing ride-a-thons and raising money that way,” said Sarah Lynn, director of development. “We have Fit2Shine studio doing a ride-a-thon where it’s $20 for a cycling class to Tour de Frederick and people can donate during the class as well. So people are getting really creative, but most of it comes from that individual to individual ask.”
Because the event is now 16 days long instead of just one, riders can go out multiple times and in separate groups to help increase their donations.
Riders can either use the original Tour de Frederick route or make their own that is the same distance. All rides will be logged through a “Ride with GPS” app. Additionally, people can participate from indoor stationary bikes. There’s even a virtual reality video of the Tour de Frederick ride for indoor riders to use.
“Now since Saturday’s the kickoff, it’s just the beginning,” Jarvis said. “So we have 16 more days after that to still get riders, to register, to still fundraise. And I’m really curious to see how many different bike rides this event essentially creates.”
The only in-person event will be this Saturday, Aug. 1, when the fundraiser begins. The Tour de Frederick is usually celebrated with beer and food, and the organizers wanted to keep that aspect as well. At the kick-off, participants can drive-thru and pick up free beer from Flying Dog and receive a coupon for eight participating restaurants. The discount will increase the more money the participant raises.
Riders will be able to register even after the kickoff on Aug. 1. The event continues through Aug. 16. Jarvis said so far there has been just as many donors this year as there was at this time last year, although registrations are down.
That gives Jarvis and Lynn hope that the event will be big and can give the kids the programming they need. It reminds Lynn of another slogan the Boys and Girls Club has been using during the pandemic: hope isn’t cancelled.
”And I really kind of hook to that little saying in that no matter how hard things are, we still have these kids that are our future,” Lynn said. “We need to really help them along the way, give them these opportunities and introduce their stories to a whole group of people that maybe didn’t know their stories.”
To register for the Tour de Frederick, visit www.tourdefrederick.com.