Our area is usually busy with 5- and 10Ks, fun runs and walks, and bike challenges that raise funds for local charitable organizations while reinforcing our strong sense of community. Of course, such events aren't possible right now. While many may be missing the fun and camaraderie and good feelings these events give us, the organizations that usually benefit are greatly missing the funds they generate. Thankfully, there’s still a way to help, have fun, and feel like a part of the community—virtually!

The Ride 4 Our Furry Friends Virtual Bike Challenge, which begins April 15 and lasts 30 days, benefits the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County and the Suncoast Humane Society (proceeds will be split between the two organizations). Registration is $20.00 (race fee) + $2.50 (sign up fee) and the event ends May 15, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.

Simply ride as many miles as you can in 30 days, then submit your miles to info@beachbumtiming.com by sending pictures of your device or app or a link to verification apps such as Strava, Garmin, MapMyRide or other tracking apps. You can also join the "Ride 4 Our Furry Friends" Strava club to make things easier.

Your ride can be indoor, outdoor, road, off-road, and/or trails, just keep track of every mile.

Awards will be given to the top three male/female riders based on the overall number of miles completed during the 30-day period. All riders receive race swag and an online certificate of completion.

Bike shops—and we have some great local ones, like ACME Bicycle Shop in Punta Gorda, Bicycle Center of Port Charlotte, and Bikes and Boards in Englewood—and clubs are encouraged to create a team! The team with the most miles receives a great prize and bragging rights! This is an awesome opportunity to get out of the house and exercise during the COVID-19 crisis.

As always, please follow Federal and State Coronavirus guideline during your rides and always be mindful of the CDC's guidelines to prevent getting sick, and insure you wear all necessary bike safety gear and ALWAYS let someone know where you are riding.