New Mexico’s Tour of the Gila has traded April showers for September sunshine.
The race, one of the longest-running road stage races in the United States, has pushed its April 28 start date back to September 29 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously the race was slated to run April 28 – May 2; now it will run September 29 – October 3.
The race is held in the mountainous region surrounding Silver City, New Mexico.
“It’s a beautiful time of year down here — I think people are going to love it,” Jack Brennan, the race’s founder told VeloNews. “It’s mild, 75 degrees, and not as windy as it is in the springtime and not a chance for rain.”
Brennan said the date change is temporary — he plans to return to April for 2022 and beyond.
Like other race directors across the country, Brennan juggled regional COVID-19 infection rates with the rollout timeline for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for the virus. According to CDC data, New Mexico’s infection rate peaked in late November and has been on a steady decline since then, yet regional rates are still higher than they were during the spring and summer of 2020.
Brennan said he consulted with city and county officials before deciding on the date change — local and regional leaders agreed that delaying was the best move, he said.
“Of course some folks are complaining about it but the feeling here is we need to be further along with the vaccine until we get to a point where we can be safe,” he said. “The feeling at the state level is that can be in the early summer.”
The 2020 Tour of the Gila was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in late 2020 the event partnered with Echelon Racing League to launch a virtual edition of the race.
Tour of the Gila joins a growing number of springtime bike races to either cancel or delay. Most recently The Mid South gravel race canceled its race in favor of a race-from-home event.