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Bikers to roll into city

The cyclists are coming! The cyclists are coming!

More than 1,000 bicyclists are expected to invade Washington the weekend of April 13-15 as the ninth-annual Cycle North Carolina Spring Ride returns to the city. As of Tuesday, cyclists from 26 states had registered to participate in the event.

Participants are expected to fill area hotel/motel rooms, bed-and-breakfast establishments and camp indoors and outdoors at the Washington Civic Center and waterfront, respectively.

The oldest registered participant is an 85-year-old man, with the youngest registered participant a 3-month-old boy.

Lynn Lewis, the city’s tourism-development director, said the Cycle North Carolina participants “truly immerse themselves in our community” when they visit. Lewis noted this Spring Ride will be the third to Washington, with the others occurring in 2005 and 2009. Cycle North Carolina also visited the city in the fall of 2004.

Not only do the cyclists look forward to visiting Washington, so do area merchants, restaurants and lodging establishments, Lewis said. It’s hard to determine an exact figure for the event’s influence on the area’s economy, Lewis said, but that influence is significant because it provides a jumpstart for the beginning of the area’s traditional tourism season, which generally runs from April through October.

The event is expected to generate an economic impact of at least $500,000 in the Washington area, according to a news release from N.C. Amateur Sports, organizer of Cycle North Carolina events and similar events in the state.

Lewis said volunteers are needed to help facilitate the event. Anyone interested in serving as a volunteer should call the Washington Tourism Development Authority at 252-948-4518.

Kristi Hardison, facilities and events manager for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said that, for the most part, the department would not incur any extra burdens related to the cyclists camping on the waterfront.

“It’s just our typical duties we have every day — making sure the grass is mowed and making sure the site is suitable for any type of visitor, whether it be the general public or folks coming into the area. Really and truly, nothing significantly additional in regard to our regular duties,” Hardison said. “We will bring in additional trash cans for that area because there’s nothing down there except for along the waterfront.”

Hardison said Cycle North Carolina worked with Lewis to obtain the required permits it needs for its activities on city properties.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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