A warm thank you from the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club
As chair of Potomac Pedalers Touring Club of the Washington, D.C. metro area, on behalf of my fellow members, I want to thank the residents of Shepherdstown and the neighboring towns. On Sunday, Sept. 20, you welcomed approximately 1,950 bicyclists and 200 volunteers into your communities for the Back Roads Century bicycle ride and made us feel comfortable and cared for and kept us safe. For that we are deeply appreciative.
We are thankful for your generosity in hosting us and taking a chance on welcoming such a large influx of cyclists to your area for our bicycle tour. We are grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of your rivers, the mountain valleys and orchards upon orchards, while interacting with the many wonderful residents, merchants, businesses and public venues that welcomed us for the first time.
We extend a special thanks to the Shepherdstown Visitors Center, Shepherd University, Gay and Mike Henderson at Belle Vue Mansion, the Food Lion in Shepherdstown, the local hotels and merchants, and the local growers who helped us put on this event. We tip our bike helmets in respect to the support provided to our cyclists by the law enforcement authorities in Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, Berkeley County, and Frederick County.
Our riders got a chance to experience your communities, enjoy your shops, restaurants, and artisans, learn much about your rich culture and history, as well as to enjoy the challenge of bicycling in the beauty that surrounds you. Our riders on the tour ranged from elementary school-aged children to couples, families, and retirees from the surrounding DC. .metro area and way beyond. For our participants, this tour was the highlight after a year of training – whether they challenged themselves to the “century ride” (100 miles), a half century ride, or to a 17-mile ride to Antietam, bicycling in your scenic countryside was the celebration of their efforts. This end-of-season ride is exhilarating and the feedback we heard was overwhelmingly enthusiastic of the hosting towns, the venues, the food, the businesses, and residents. The stunning scenery and inviting atmosphere has riders eager to return.
Based on our rider feedback survey, the participants greatly valued that the event was organized using local businesses. Many were happily surprised to find such a welcoming place to ride and visit. About one third stayed overnight. Excluding direct fees paid for participating in the tour, each of the participants spent $112 on average in the Shepherdstown community and surrounding areas. Including what Potomac Pedalers sourced locally to put on the event with the additional average amount each visitor spent over the weekend, our estimates show total business for your merchants to be in excess of $260,000. Based on rider responses to the survey, this number will grow significantly as many more spend additional time with better knowledge of how to enjoy the local amenities.
We understand that there were some reports of unanticipated disruption caused by our event. For that we are truly sorry. We worked hard with the local public authorities to minimize our impact, and we encouraged our riders to be sensitive and aware of our neighbors while riding through. We are grateful to your local police for staffing busy intersections while our own volunteer marshals also tried to minimize impact on local drivers. We’ve learned a few important lessons from this year and promise to make suggested changes and work even harder in the future, including communicating better with the newspapers, community websites and social media.
Thank you again for sharing your fantastic community with us. We look forward to returning and spending time with you again.
Matt Birnbaum, Chair