More than 80 cyclists climbed out of bed at the crack of dawn Saturday to participate in the community's first 'Shine Pedalers metric century ride hosted by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and Northstar Bicycle.
"This first one was a test to see if we could generate enough interest for us to do it again next year," said Christie Haynes, president of chamber. "I can tell you right now the turnout was incredible, and we're already looking at dates for next year."
Hayes said her goal was to get people to the county who may have never seen it before.
"We are really pleased and proud of how well it turned out," she said.
The event started and ended at the Dawsonville City Hall and in-between wound its way past farms and fields, lakes and streams, before heading over Burnt Mountain.
"This was the longest ride I've ever done," said Stephanie Wager of Atlanta. "Burnt Mountain was really a challenge, and I'm pretty proud of myself for making it."
Her cycling companion, Andy Lovell, said he'll come again.
"The scenery was beautiful, the course was good, and the rest stops were great," Lovell said. "I met some really nice people. The volunteers were really friendly and helpful."
One unusual thing about the rest stops that cyclists appreciated was port-a-potties.
"We partnered up with Northstar Bicycles to host this event, and we asked them what we needed to do to make this a first class ride," said Haynes. "They said port-a-potties would be a big hit, and they were right."
Townley Construction donated the port-a-potties.
"They called me and asked how much I'd charge, and I said I wasn't going to charge them anything." said Jackie Townley. "We dropped them off, and I personally went out and picked them up myself. I usually try to help out with local things."
The five SAG (Supply and Gear) stops along the route also included oranges, bananas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and energy drinks.
For rider James Schultz from Forsyth County, there was only one thing the chamber could have done better marketing.
"I think they needed to promote it more," he said. "I know a bunch of guys that would have really enjoyed this, but they didn't know about it."
"With a little more marketing and promotion, we can make this event twice as big next year," she said. "The course was really challenging and that made it unique, so word is going to spread."
A metric century is 62.13 miles long.
The course also included a shorter 31-mile ride, known as a half-metric century, which didn't include Burnt Mountain.
"Some people came for the half-metric, but when they saw the map they switched to the longer ride," Haynes said. "Usually, riders do the opposite. But we put them on really nice backroads with low traffic. There was no gravel or dirt."
Haynes said Northstar Bicycle in Dawsonville designed the course.
"We had some help from our friend Lee Henson on the course layout," said John Jones, owner of Northstar Bicycle in Dawsonville. "I rode the 31-mile course, which wasn't flat, but it wasn't really hilly either. I really liked it, and I think it's great for Dawsonville to get the active thing going."
For his Northstar Bicycle shop, Jones said he didn't see this year's event generating a lot of business.
"It doesn't help us initially," he said. "But in years to come, it will bring more cyclists to Dawsonville, especially when we've got routes that good."