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Bike Across Missouri tour dodges flooding, wraps up successful fifth year

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Missy Brooks curves right through the finish line archway

Missy Brooks complete sher 2019 Big BAM ride on Friday outside of Bass Pro in Columbia. Brooks and her friends have formed a group of 10 that named the “BAMily” that rides together every year. “Slowing down and actually taking the time to listen and hear people, that’s what it’s all about,” she said.

The wet weather, the last-minute reroute on account of flooding, even the occasional ear-shattering blast of a disgruntled driver’s horn — none of it bothered Missy Brooks.

She was just happy to spend quality time with her BAM-ily.

That is, her Bike Across Missouri family.

Larry Smart, Missy Brooks, Mari Matthes, and Tim Davis high five after the four completed the race

From left, finishers of the race Larry Smart, Missy Brooks, Mari Matthes, and Tim Davis high five after the four completed the race on Friday outside the Bass Pro in Columbia. Smart came from Illinois to ride in the Big BAM race with his friends.

“This group of people, I didn’t know them before the ride, but we’ve really bonded and have been taking care of each other,” Brooks said.

“Slowing down and actually taking the time to listen and hear people, that’s what it’s all about.”

The fifth annual Bike Across Missouri tour, or Big BAM, drew to a close Friday as cyclists trickled into Columbia over the course of the afternoon.

The riders covered 315.4 miles over five days of cycling. This year’s route, which began and ended in Columbia, was smaller in scope than usual.

While the overall mileage was more-or-less the same as previous years — when riders traversed the length of the state from east to west — this year’s tour only went as far north as Moberly and as far east as Perry.

While Big BAM has attracted more than 500 riders in some years, just 257 rode this year, according to Jesse Myers, general manager of Katy Bike Rental, the company that provides support and gear for BIG Bam.

Roger Denesha completed the race in a horned helmet and ski mask

Roger Denesha completed the race in a horned helmet and ski mask on Friday in Columbia. The horns are attached to the helmet with Velcro. In the past, Denesha has decorated his helmet as a snowman during the winter and has plans to try different attachments in the future.

Corky Clayton, who has participated in Big BAM every year since its inception in 2015, said he thought the less ambitious, central-Missouri route may have had something to do with the decline in numbers.

“I think there’s something about saying, ‘Yeah, I rode across the state,’” Clayton said. “I called this year more of a Bike Around Missouri.”

Clayton also said he thought some people may have been scared off by the recent flooding.

Big BAM organizers published a notice on their website June 5 about a route modification made necessary by flooding west of Glasgow.

The original plan for the tour’s fourth day had riders cycling to Arrow Rock for an overnight stay.

The route was revised to avoided flooded roads, and riders spent the fourth night where they had spent the second — at a campground in Perry.

“I don’t think anybody knew any different,” Brooks said.

“Sure, it would’ve been nice for people to see a different town, but Perry did a really nice job. They really bought into it.”

Bianca Martin's bike lies on the ground after the conclusion of the race

Bianca Martin's bike lies on the ground after the conclusion of the race on Sunday in the Bass Pro parking lot. "When you ride by roadkill you can taste the death in your mouth," said fellow rider Leann Shotton when talking about the feeling of the race.

Clayton, too, said he enjoyed the hospitality provided by people he met along the way.

What keeps him coming back year after year, though, is the window the tour gives him into life in Missouri’s backcountry, he said.

“We all enjoy it: riding 10, 12 miles, stopping to relax, maybe having a beer,” Clayton said. “We get to get a glimpse of life in a local community and then move on down the road.”

Supervising editor is Libby Stanford.

  • Quinn is a sports and news reporter for the Missourian.

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