More than 2,000 bicyclists will converge on Chattanooga on May 2 to participate in the 22nd annual 3-State, 3-Mountain Challenge. The ride, which is run by the Chattanooga Bicycle Club, features a 100-mile main event, a 62-mile metric century and a 25-mile family fun ride.
Riders of the 100-mile route will climb Suck Creek, Sand and Lookout mountains and ride through Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The 100-mile and 62-mile rides will begin at Finley Stadium at 8 a.m., and the 25-mile riders will leave at 9:30 a.m. The finish line for all riders is at Finley Stadium.
Over the years, the event has grown to be one of the largest bicycling events in the region.
"It's been phenomenal. Outside of the Head of the Hooch rowing competition, 3-State 3-Mountain is the largest outdoor event in this area," said Ruth Thompson, events coordinator at Outdoor Chattanooga. "It has a huge impact for what we do at Outdoor Chattanooga and has brought national exposure to the city as a center for outdoor activities."
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 2,100 riders from at least 34 states as well as Canada and the Cayman Islands have registered for the ride, according to Dawn Salyer, events coordiator with Chattanooga Bike Club. Salyer said she expects the event to come close to meeting it's limit of 2,500 riders.
Registration for the event has been extended another day and will now end at midnight Friday. Anyone interested in participating can register online through the Chattanooga Bicycle Club's Web site at www.chattbike.com.
This year's ride is being dedicated to the memory of David Meek, a local cyclist who died in a traffic accident on March 6 while commuting to work on his bike. Members of Meek family will participate in the event and lead the riders at the start of the event.
Salyer has been working to get all the pieces of the event in place and working with more than 200 volunteers and public safety workers to ensure a successful and safe event.
"First and foremost, the city of Chattanooga has become a real partner with us in putting on this event," Sayler said. "They advise us on what roads to close and where to put safety personnel to ensure a good ride."
In addition to Chattanooga, volunteers and public safety workers from Red Bank, Marion County, Dade County in Georgia, and the town of Trenton, Ga., work to make the event a success. Kelly Suburu has provided two GPS-equipped vehicles to help organizers keep track of riders and assist those who need help.
Salyer said money raised by the 3-State, 3-Mountain Challenge allows the Chattanooga Bicycle Club to continue to improve bicycling throughout the area.
"Having this event enables the club to contribute to local organizations involved in bicycle education and advocacy," Salyer said. "In addition we use the funds we raise for mountain bike trail maintainence and land purchases to expand area's network of off-road bicycle trails."