Cartersville Century attracts riders from across the state and county lines
by Amanda Stegall
Jun 26, 2011 | 3338 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Participants in the 12th annual Cartersville Century bike ride leave Dellinger Park Saturday morning. The event benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Sunscreen, laughter and words of encouragement floated on the breeze of a foggy Saturday morning as riders from around the region gathered for the 12th annual Cartersville Century. Hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs and their sponsors, nearly 1,000 cyclists rode into Dellinger Park early in the morning to show their support for the organization and enjoy the ride.

Participants were able to enter the event at four distance levels:15, 30, 50 and 100 miles. The ride is designed for pleasure and exercise; it is not a race.

"This is a great event," said cyclist Kyle Rippe, a Kennesaw native participating for a third year. "It seems to grow every year and it's all for a good cause."

With entry fees at $35 per person, the turnout will fund approximately 14 percent of the nonprofit's operating expenses for their $350,000 annual budget. That percentage amounts to roughly $50,000, making the Century the largest single fundraiser. Participation in events like these is critical for the organization's success.

Riders not only consist of local community members, but also of people like Rippe from surrounding counties. One couple from Cumming stated they heard about the event through word of mouth and were eager to join. Walt Sullins, chairman for the event, stated that this year has seen participants from Pennsylvania and Orlando.

"We've got a riding club [that's part] of NGCA [North Georgia Cyclist Association] out of Gainesville with 39 riders," Sullins said.

With 490 riders pre-registered -- an increase of about 30 percent from last year -- between 850 to 1,000 cyclist enthusiasts were expected to turn out for the ride. The swarm of smiling and energetic people at the registration tent showed potential for that high mark to be reached with ease.

"We're slammed here," said Gordon Gilley, chief professional officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County Inc. "This has evolved into a real monster [of an event]."

Including support from local businesses and civic groups, up to 200 volunteers were scattered around the county at rest stops in Kingston, Adairsville, Pine Log, Cedar Creek Baptist, Barnsley Gardens, Oak Grove and Cassville Baptist.

A group of five Adairsville residents served as volunteers for the rest stop located at the United Community Bank. Martha Landen and her daughter Sarah have been volunteering for the event over the past eight years and are "just customers and residents who wanted to help."

Alongside the Landen's was former bank employee and citizen Derenda Flemons, who stated that they were expecting 500 cyclists to stop at their location for a rest. "We're the halfway point," she said, "so they don't look too exhausted when they get here.

"There's a big demand for Gatorade, last year it was water," Flemons stated, "We can't make it fast enough." Noting the healthy snacks and liquids offered to participants, fresh bananas, grapes and orange slices, and peanut butter and honey sandwiches accompanied granola bars and Little Debbie oatmeal pies.

"[The riders] asked for honey. It gives them energy and the peanut butter is a good protein source," Flemons said. Volunteers and bank employees provided all snacks offered to Century cyclists.

Although rest stops and water locations were placed along the route, support trucks continuously traveled the course, ready to provide assistance to stranded riders or anyone who, in Sullins's words, "ran out of gas."

"Primarily what happens is someone cramps up about the last 40 miles," Sullins said. "We've got trucks going back and forth so you won't get stranded out there."

Sullins and Gilley stated that two people have completed the 100 mile trek twice. One of those riders made his third Century ride for the same event. "One of my friends invited me here a few years ago," Marty Mercer said while tweeting his progress at the Adairsville rest stop. "It's a beautiful course, not too hilly, with good stops and friendly volunteers." Mercer, who resides in Atlanta, advises all riders to stay hydrated and pace themselves.