Apple Pie

JANESVILLE—Like most events upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Janesville Morning Rotary Pie Ride has faced some changes.

Luckily, organizers have been able to, um ... roll with them.

“For this 20th anniversary event, we had to jump through a few more hoops than we’re accustomed to,” said Rotarian Jere Johnson, who is co-chairing the event with Paul Benson. “For instance, we have changed the course of the event a little due to COVID. We’re not doing the Century or 100K loops this year, but we’ve added a short 5K route for families because we know they are desperately looking for activities that are COVID-safe.”

Early coronavirus concerns also forced the ride date to be changed. Traditionally held on Father’s Day weekend each June, it was moved to early October—this Saturday specifically—in hopes the virus would be better controlled.

Another change comes in the form of the pastries being handed out to riders this year. A change in flavors seemed appropriate given the obvious seasonal themes.

“There will be no blueberry or cherry pies this year,” Johnson said. “We’re going with apple and pumpkin given the time of year.

“As for safety, the pies are all baked in advance and frozen, so we never touch them,” he said. “When riders pick them up afterward, we encourage them to wipe down the boxes at home, but the pies are all produced in a safe environment.”

Perhaps the most significant revision involves registration. Previously, riders were welcome to register in person the morning of the event. While same-day signup still will be an option, riders now must complete registration online.

“Fortunately, we have expanded online registration this year,” Johnson said. “To protect volunteers, we won’t be handling paperwork. But you can register at PieRide.org and just check in once you arrive. We also will ask a few health questions prior to having people head out on their routes.”

Johnson said the extra steps associated with this year’s Pie Ride don’t seem to have diminished interest among riders.

“We’ve been monitoring registrations daily and making predictions, and we anticipate about 300 riders. But if we have even one rider, it will be a success,” he said, noting 125 riders had preregistered as of Sept. 23. “We average about 15 to 20 a day, so that would leave us with about 40 needed to register the day of the event. That’s a piece of cake as we normally have anywhere from 75 to 125 same-day registrations.”

In past years, the Pie Ride kicked off with a mass start for all riders. In an effort to avoid crowding, groups will be released alphabetically based on last names.

Along with face masks being required at the start/finish lines, other safety precautions also will be in place.

“We will be encouraging social distancing and limiting touch points,” Johnson said. “All riders will have hand sanitizer they can clip onto their bikes, and because the restrooms at Lions Beach will not be open this year, we will have porta-potties that are sanitized in advance given COVID guidelines. If people have to go, at least they will be going in a relatively safe environment.”

Before riders head out on their respective courses, they can have their rides checked over by service techs who will be on hand to make sure everything is safe. Event organizers also will monitor the course to ensure anyone who might encounter problems while on the ride will get help.

Johnson believes ride organizers have covered their bases ... at least as best they can given these uncertain times. But when it comes to the weather, remember ... it will still be October in Wisconsin.

“The Farmers Almanac says it will be dry and chilly with mid to high 40s at the start of the race before warming up to 50 or 60 midday,” he said. “Dress appropriately.”

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