Finish line: In this file photo from 2013, a cyclist crosses the finish line of 3 State 3 Mountain amid torrential rains. Now is 3 State 3 Mountain finished with Dade?
Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross today confirmed that the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge, the 100-mile bicycle event that roars through Dade County each May, will not do so this year. It has been rerouted because the Sheriff's benefit gala had been planned for the same weekend.
"I'm sure some of the people who ride in it may be upset," said Cross.
The Dade Planet contacted The Chattanooga Bicycle Club, which stages the event, for comment, but as yet has received no reply.
This year's 3 State 3 Mountain is the 30th annual. Each year, it brings hundreds of cyclists through Dade, where they whizz down Sand Mountain and labor up Lookout. The almost vertical pull up Burkhalter Gap, the last leg of the race, has been called the "jewel in the crown" of the event.
And most years it brings some flavor of controversy. For that one Saturday in May, the event makes driving up and down Burkhalter Gap problematic, and in some years residents of West Brow have complained bitterly. In 2013, the event was held despite torrential, all-day rains, resulting in a death across the Tennessee line and a catastrophic accident on Sand Mountain. In another year, two riders were struck by a truck on Sand Mountain. Last year, the weather was perfect and the event went smoothly.
But Sheriff Cross says that none of that has anything to do with the event's pull out of Dade this year: It was just a matter of scheduling. "A lot of things go on in the month of May," he said. Off-duty sheriff's deputies usually provide security and traffic control for the cyclists, and this year they will all be tied up with the sheriff's own event. "I told them they could use any other certified officers in the state of Georgia," said Cross. But the cycling club chose to reroute instead, he said.
Cross said he planned his May 6 fundraiser without realizing it would conflict with the bike event, and by the time he learned it was too late to change. "We'd already sent out flyers and everything," he said.