Just four days after the start, organizers of the 2013 Sea to Sea bike tour have canceled the next three days of riding (June 28, June 29, and July 1) because of extreme heat in Arizona.
Temperatures in and around Phoenix are expected to rise to 120F (49C); officials have issued an excessive heat warning, asking residents to stay inside.
Cancelling the ride during these days “is the prudent thing to do,” said Dan Ohlson, communications manager for the tour. “Safety comes first.” He said that while some riders may have been able to handle it, they didn’t want to take any chances.
The cyclists will instead be taken by bus from Quartzite (Ariz.) to Payson, where they will remain until Tuesday morning, bypassing the stops in Aguila and Phoenix.
While the details are still being worked out, Ohlson said, some cyclists representing the tour will travel to Phoenix to join the Christian Reformed Church there for worship. Some cyclists will work in and around Payson doing community service. Ohlson said a short ride will probably be organized in the local Payson area for Monday so that riders aren’t idle for too many days.
The ride started on Monday, June 24, after a tire-dipping ceremony at Huntington Beach, Calif., on Sunday.
Heat was already a factor earlier in the week. “Even in the shade, it just feels as though the sun is burning your skin,” wrote cyclist Elizabeth Adam in her blog.
In what is being billed as the largest-ever cross-continental bike tour, cyclists will pedal for nine weeks, arriving in New York City on August 24, traveling a total of 3,900 miles (6,276 km). A total of 220 cyclists are registered, with 80 doing the entire tour.
Cyclists were required to raise $10,000, on top of covering their own training and traveling expenses.
The tour is organized by World Renew (the relief and development agency of the Christian Reformed Church), Partners Worldwide, and Reformed Church in America. Funds raised will go toward programs that alleviate poverty in North America and abroad.
Previous bicycle tours involving the Christian Reformed community were in 2005 (cross-Canada) and 2008 (U.S. and Canada.)