NGHP Hosts Successful 2017 Bike Around Murray Event

If there had ever been a better day to ride in a bike ride, I can’t recall it.

This past Saturday was one of the most beautiful September mornings ever, which seems all the more remarkable given all of our concerns about the advancing wrath of Hurricane Irma.

We had our fingers crossed for a great day, and fortunately, we got it. For the 62 participants in our fourth annual Bike Around Murray, a North Georgia Healthcare Partnership initiative that focuses on our major mission of creating a healthier community, the 9th of September was a day that was custom made for riding, racing, and recreating.

Bike Around Murray (BAM) is a four-course ride along the beautiful scenic hills of Murray County, Georgia, with the express purpose of bringing awareness to the prevention and management of diabetes. It’s one of the many healthcare initiatives of the NGHP that serve the residents of Whitfield and Murray counties.

As was the case in the past three years, BAM provided a variety of rides to accommodate riders of all levels of experience. Our goal is always to offer a healthy balance of route options, catering to both our extremely competitive riders, as well as those who come out for a casual, just-for-fun bike-riding experience.

We sponsor a 10-mile ride, a 22-mile ride, a 50-mile ride, and a highly competitive 62-mile ride. A free kids’ bike rodeo is also a feature of the day’s events, and we always make sure that we stress bike safety, proper helmet use, and a skills course ride for the youngsters among us. All of the rides begin and end at the Murray County Veterans Park Recreation Center in Chatsworth.

The most competitive of riders enjoy the challenges of ascending the beautiful yet infamous Fort Mountain route, and each year the winners of the male and female bike races are crowned “king” and “queen” of their respective categories. In order to earn this honor, each rider must complete the entire race, and their times on the climb up the mountain are used to determine the winners.

This year’s King of the Mountain was Andy Guelzo, a member of Piedmont College’s National Championship Cycling Team, who won his competition in record time. Corinna Schmid was crowned Queen of the Mountain for coming in first among the female riders in the 62-mile contest.

Having members of Piedmont College’s Cycling Team compete in our ride was a great boon to us this year. We’re hoping that in the years to come, we will be viewed as even more competitive in the eyes of cycling communities as we continue to attract talented riders like those who compete in national championships and other major bike races. This year’s event was an incredible start to that end.

There are so many volunteers, sponsors, and friends of the NGHP who contribute in innumerable ways each year to make this event a great success.

We would like to thank them alI, and I hope I don’t leave anyone out. We’re especially grateful to Alliant Health Plans for being the presenting sponsor and to Engineered Floors for sponsoring long-sleeved t-shirts this year, which proved to be extremely popular among our riders. Thank you also to our platinum sponsors Novacopy and Physicians Health Services, and to all of our gold sponsors – Murray Medical Center, Cohutta Springs Conference Center, Hamilton Medical Center, Dalton Utilities, White’s Pediatrics, CareSource, Five-Star Foods, and US Floors. We could not have done it without you!

Caitlyn McCrain, an AmeriCorps VISTA with NGHP, served as the main coordinator of the event and did a herculean job of planning and managing. Once again, our entire staff and VISTA team did great work.

We were also well served by a number of additional volunteers, including those representing Chatsworth CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), the Boys & Girls Club of Chatsworth, and Alliant Health Plans. Volunteers assisted the staff as well as board members of NGHP with registration, kid’s rodeo, and the various “Support and Gear” (SAG) activities.

We’re continuing to explore creative ways to continue to improve the event year after year. But one thing we may never be able to improve on was last Saturday’s perfect weather. September 9, 2017, will be remembered as a wonderful day for the NGHP and Murray County.