BEMIDJI — This year, Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat 500 Bike Ride is going virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially, the event was scheduled for July 12 -18, beginning in Pequot Lakes with stops in Bemidji, Menahga, and Pillager. And over the seven days, riders would bike 500 miles.

But now, the event -- renamed the 2020 Virtual Habitat 500: Bike @ Home -- gives participants the flexibility to choose their goals for how far they ride and how much they raise from the comfort of their own hometown. The ride’s goal is to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity, helping to provide decent, affordable housing for families in need, a release said.

“The Ride always draws people from several states, but this year could reach even further,” Kaitlyn Meyers, ride manager for Habitat for Humanity, said in a release. “We’re excited about the opportunities a virtual ride offers for connection between riders, cycling locally, and staying safe and active during the pandemic.”

When a rider signs up, they receive a rider packet with a T-shirt, button, bike plate, and other materials. They also get access to their own fundraising page, the ride’s private Facebook group and the ride’s private Strava group.

Since 1993, the Habitat 500 Bike Ride has sent cyclists across Minnesota and the surrounding Midwest each year to raise funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity. The event has raised over $5.4 million for the organization since 2002.

“The money raised through this ride is needed now more than ever, as Habitat affiliates have had to cancel many of their fundraisers and temporarily close their ReStore outlets,” Kristin Skaar, Habitat Minnesota Development Director, said in the release.

For more information on how to get involved, visit habitat500.org.