Richard Beattie, Mike Barranco

Richard Beattie, right, a lead organizer of Bikes, Blues & Bayous, shows Mike Barranco a smartphone tracking app that will be in use for Saturday's bike ride. Behind them are the packets waiting for the arrival of the 500 or so riders.

The 13th annual Bikes, Blues & Bayous ride is this weekend, and people are ready to pedal.

Debra Ketchum, 63, from Granbury, Texas, will be traveling with her husband to the event, and she said she always looks forward to it.

“This will be our fourth year,” said Ketchum, who will participate in the 46-mile ride.

Ketchum said she will miss the bands and party usually held at Tallahatchie Flats — canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic — but still is excited for the great atmosphere the event provides.

“I love the ride. It’s a beautiful ride,” Ketchum said.

Billy Guthrie, 70, from Saint Joseph, Louisiana, has taken part in Bikes, Blues & Bayous each year since 2010 and will be doing the 62-mile ride.  He said he and his friends travel all around the country for riding events, and none of them are as good as the one in Greenwood.

“This ride is really well-organized and well-supported,” Guthrie said. “A lot of other rides around the country could take some lessons from Bikes, Blues & Bayous.”

Guthrie said his group normally would do three or four rides before this one, but due to the pandemic, they have had to readjust. “We were going to do a ride in California and one in Texas. Those were both canceled, so this is our first ride,” Guthrie said.  

Some procedures in the annual ride have been altered due to the pandemic. For example, starting locations are spaced out, riders are advised to wear masks at the start of the race and there is a safety video for participants to watch.

The number of participants, which has exceeded 1,000 in some past years, was reduced to just over 500.

Richard Beattie, co-founder of Bikes, Blues & Bayous, said around 300 bikers will be doing the 62-mile ride, and 150 have chosen the 42-mile one. The rest have opted for the 20-mile trip.

Beattie said operating under the new guidelines has gone smoothly so far.

“Everything is falling into place nicely,” he said.

Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or abakst@gwcommonwealth.com. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW

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