About 1,000 bike riders are taking part this week in the newest across-state bike tour — The Big BAM (Bicycle Across Missouri).
The 300-mile cross-state ride got underway on Monday in Rock Port and finishes on Friday in Canton. Along the way, the cyclists will be visiting the host towns of Maryville, Albany, Unionville, and Kirksville.
The longest day is Wednesday at 81 miles from Albany to Unionville; the shortest is the 39 miles from Unionville to Kirksville on Thursday.
The founding of the Big BAM this year was music to the ears of bicyclists who enjoy multi-day rides. It will continue to be music to their ears all week, as 30 bands are scheduled to play throughout the week at rest stops and host towns.
Gretchen Fuhrman, assistant director, told the News-Press that she’s been working with the communities along the route for the past year. She said organizers were encouraged by the big turnout for the inaugural ride.
Organizer Mike Denehy, whose Off Track Events runs the Pedalers Jamboree, told KBIA in an interview:
I think it is finally to a point now where the state can embrace bicycle tourism and really do something great. There is a lot of beautiful scenery, a lot of great towns. There’s a lot to offer… Towns in Missouri are realizing that bicycle rides are a good boost to their economy. If they can support it and bring people from other cities and other states it’s good exposure for them and brings a little tourism to their towns.
So far, riders report a hilly route and hot and windy conditions on the first day of the ride. One participant complained about the lack of water and porta-potties, while others touted the pies and pastries.
Good luck to all the riders on the Big BAM, and let’s hope this event continues into the future.