Over 250 cycling enthusiasts rolled into Dawsonville on Saturday for the sixth annual ‘Shine Pedalers Metric bike ride.
Organized by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, the ride starts and finishes at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Featuring two routes through the rolling hills of Dawson County, the ride is a unique way to see the countryside.
“This is one of our top ways to showcase our community, to get people thinking about Dawsonville differently,” said Chamber President Christie Moore. “The goal each year is to add more riders, more [Supply and Gear] stops and more community sponsors.”
The full metric, measuring 62 miles, was recommended for advanced riders not only due to the extra distance, but because it features a grueling climb up Burnt Mountain in Jasper.
Ascending some 3,000 feet over just a few miles, this portion of the ride was not for the faint of heart, although the view of the north Georgia mountains that awaited riders at the top was well worth the effort.
Taking an equally scenic route, the half metric, a distance of around 31 miles, winds through Dawson County and took cyclers over a much less strenuous trek through Amicalola Falls State Park.
This year’s ride started with a breakfast sponsored by Northside Memorial Hospital Forsyth at the hall of fame. The first riders were then escorted into the city by an officer with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.
“This year is the first year that we have used an officer to escort riders,” Moore said. “Due to construction along the route we wanted to ensure the safety of the participants.”
Safety is a prominent feature of the ride this year, and every year. Supply and Gear (SAG) stations are placed approximately every 12 miles along the route. Manned by volunteers and stocked by the event sponsors, each station features everything an exhausted, hot and thirsty cyclist could need to get back up to speed.
Items available included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, orange slices, bananas, candy bars, granola bars and hard candies. Stranger items such as pickle juice and mustard, both effective, quick treatments for cramps, were prominently displayed along with the standard fare of cold water and energy drinks.
Denise Ray, who has volunteered at SAG stops for five years of the metric, served as a volunteer with Isabell's Book Club and oversaw a Hawaiian themed SAG stop at the top of Burnt Mountain this year.
Gathered together under the tents erected for shade and decorated in a Hawaiian theme complete with a picture of Elvis and paraphernalia sponsored by King's Hawaiian, it was almost as if everyone got together to ride up Burnt Mountain for a party. It’s easy to see why Ray has won the Best SAG Stop Award two years in a row.
As the last of the riders headed down the mountain back
into town, relishing the first downhill stretch of the race, this year’s Queen
of the Mountain, Paula Boyle, summed up the whole event.
“The people are really friendly, it’s a great ride, with a gorgeous view,” she said.
Editor's note: this article has been updated. An earlier version of this article misquoted a source as well as misspelled the source's name. We apologize for the error.