Cyclists roll out of Rome headed toward Dalton
Romans will have to get out early to see the start of the Bike Ride Across Georgia, but retailers in Rome felt the presence of the cyclists Saturday night in restaurants and shops.
Forum River Center marketing Specialist Thomas Kislat said the facility was expecting between 400 and 500 riders to bunk down in the arena Saturday night. Another break-out room for BRAG staff will be set up on the second floor of the building.
“We are going to have a power breakfast for them in our concession area at 5 a.m.,” Kislat said. “The usual sports stuff, cereal, power bars, fruit, apples, bananas and coffee.”
Most of the other riders, possibly as many as 800 more, will be camping out in Heritage Park where vendor trucks will help get the riders going Sunday morning.
Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lisa Smith said she had no idea how many hotel rooms may have been booked by riders who may have wanted one last night in a bed before hitting the road.
“We’ve got so much stuff going on this weekend that I don’t know if there is any way we could tell,” Smith said. As a result, trying to pinpoint an economic impact of the event will be a challenge.
Rome Downtown Development Director Amanda Carter said she is confident that the downtown restaurants in particular would have had a good night Saturday night with all of the out of town visitors in. She said the Shakespeare Festival on the Town Green may also have benefitted from the extra traffic.
Carter said her staff sent out a notification to downtown merchants to make them aware of all of the visitors that would be in town, but did not know if any of the retailers would stay open any later than normal in conjunction with the Downtown Saturday celebration and the arrival of the cyclists from all over the country.
The ride will leave downtown Rome, head out Riverside Parkway to the Armuchee Connector and Old Dalton Road on the way to Dalton on the first of six riding days between Rome and Hartwell.