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Cyclists enjoy ride in Natchez

NATCHEZ — The beginning of fall could be felt on the Natchez bluff Saturday morning where more than 200 people registered to ride in the inaugural Young Professionals Natchez Bicycle Classic.

“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” said Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce CEO Debbie Hudson on Saturday.

Hudson said some of Saturday’s riders came from as far west as Austin, Texas, and as far north as Nashville, Tennessee, to participate in the once-popular Natchez Bicycle Classic.

The last similar event hosted in Natchez was approximately 20 years ago and in its peak brought more than 400 riders to the Natchez area.

Many volunteers with the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals and Leadership Natchez worked to bring the event back, organizers said.

“This is an excellent turnout for our first year,” Hudson said.

The event had been initially scheduled to take place in May before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a change of plans, she said.

Young professional volunteers and many of the riders wore masks or face shields.

Riders took off from in front of the Natchez Grand Hotel on Broadway Street at 8 a.m. to various destinations on either gravel or blacktop roads. The longest riding route was 57 miles, organizers said.

“We hope to make this a long-lasting event that everyone continues to come back to,” organizer Matthew Hall said. “This would not be possible without all of our sponsors.”

Hall thanked Magnolia Bluff’s Casino, the event’s title sponsor; Visit Natchez, who sponsored finishing medals; Jordan Carriers, who sponsored customized Natchez Bicycle Classic socks; Natchez Grand Hotel and State Farm who sponsored the start and finish line; Natchez Supermarket operations, who sponsored one of the resting stops; Natchez Radio Group; the Natchez Bicycle Club and numerous volunteers.