CASCADE — For the past seven years, the Cascade 66 bike ride has helped raise money for the Cascade Lions Club for local projects. But COVID-19 was a threat, as similar bike rides in Dillon and Libby were canceled.
Instead, thanks to the pandemic, this Cascade 66 was the biggest one yet. Ride director Craig Moore said what was usually 50 or 60 participants was more than 110 this year, almost all from Montana.
"We decided to put in some social distancing policies. We spread the bikes out about six feet apart at the starting line and put in some policies for the aid station so that riders are separated," Moore said. "And so the response has been pretty good. Everyone seems to be very thrilled. We're continuing forward with our ride. And we're excited that we have over 110 riders this year so we have a chance to showcase what we have."
The chip-timed Gran Fondo-styled ride features 33-, 66- and 100-mile distances from Cascade through the Wolf Creek area. Gary Johnson, a 100-miler from Great Falls, said it was nice to able to have at least one this summer.
"Good to be back out and doing something again," Johnson said. "I think going back is going to be better because we're going to have a tailwind. I'm hoping."
Moore said the ride raised nearly $5,000 for the Lions Club, and that money will be split with local projects and worldwide Lions Club charities.
"It does really great things for the town and gives us a chance to showcase our little town," Moore said. "The ride is along the frontage road on the Missouri River, which is some of the best scenery in the country. So it's just turned out to be a wonderful thing for our community."