“Ready? Any questions? Go!” said Nelson Palmer at 7:30 a.m. sharp to the first cohort of riders.
This was the start of the 2020 Bike The Bear, a 50 mile bicycle ride around Bear Lake, held on Sept. 26. The 250-plus riders started in small groups to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, one of the many precautions taken for the ride to happen this year.
Riders camped overnight at the Bear Lake Aquatics Base, or “BLAB,” on the east side of Bear Lake, about 5 miles north of Laketown. Dinner was served by volunteers to the campers, which included roasted chicken pasta provided by Firehouse Pizzaria in Garden City.
Palmer, an avid bicyclist who rides almost every day, organized the 13th annual Bike the Bear 50. The even was sponsored by the Crossroads of the West Council of Scouting BSA, who provided the camp, aid stations, and volunteers.
Members of Bridgerland Amateur Radio Club provided communications support at each aid station as well as roving patrol. Staffing at each food and aid station was organized by the Order of the Arrow, a scouting service organization. Joy Ride Bicycles of Logan, Utah, came with a large mobile bicycle repair shop to give assistance to the riders.
The first riders swiftly reached Camp Hunt on the west side north of Garden City in only 45 minutes, despite headwinds coming from the north at about 15 knots. The forecast had been for a chilly 45 degrees but instead everyone woke up to a nearly balmy 60 degrees where it stayed for most of the day. The riders enjoyed a flat section of road on the north side of the lake, then had to battle the rolling hills on the east side before reaching the finish line.
Most of the 50 mile riders came in by 2 p.m. By then, a few riders had even completed a second lap around the lake for a total of 100 miles. The last 50 mile rider came in about 5:30 p.m. His sister awarded him his finisher’s medal, hugging him as he crossed the finish line.
One 8 year old girl was very proud of herself for making it all the way to St. Charles, Idaho, approximately 28 miles. Though she didn’t complete the race, she said that she wants to come back next year and go all the way around the lake.