A Town in Eastern Oregon is Hosting a Virtual Bike Race

"Keep your required CDC distances or whatever, and once you're done, email us your time."

This weekend, Echo, Ore.  was going to see a substantial spike in population.

The small town in Umatilla County hosts the Echo Red to Red, an annual mountain bike race that draws hundreds of cyclists. The 12th iteration of the Red to Red was scheduled to take place this Saturday, kicking off the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association's 2020 series of cross-country races.

Race director Brian Cimmiyotti tells WW that 250 riders had pre-registered, and up to 400 cyclists were expected to participate, a large crowd for a town of only about 700 people.

But like every other industry, the cycling word has seen mass event cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than calling it off entirely, organizers decided to run the Red to Red as a "virtual" race, Bike Portland first reported.

The courses are available on the route app Trailforks, and participants will be able to complete the ride anytime between March 21 and April 25. Cyclists are asked to track their ride with a personal timing device like Strava, then email their results to Scott's Cycle and Sports, the bike shop that manages the race.

"Keep your required CDC distances or whatever," explains Cimmiyotti. "And once you're done, email us your time."

Officially, the Red to Red is canceled, and the virtual race is not an OBRA event. "This is more of a ride than a race," says Cimmiyotti. "This is just a fun way people can get out and ride."

Still, all of the race's 29 categories—from a beginner 14 miler to a Cat 1 ride that's 32 miles and mostly on single track trails—are available on Trailforks. There's no entry fee to participate in the virtual version, but Scott's Cycle will still award trophies and raffle prizes.

Virtual participants are asked to ride the course alone or in small groups. If you're unsure if it's currently safe to blow snot rockets on group rides, Bicycling magazine recently consulted an expert about whether or not it's okay to spew respiratory droplets on group rides during the pandemic (hint: it isn't).