Locals Prepare for Bike Virginia Tour

Bicyclists from far and wide will converge in Berryville this weekend for what is estimated to be the largest influx of visitors to the town in recent history. The 2012 Bike Virginia Tour is rolling into Berryville Friday June 22nd and will bring with it over 2000 bicycle enthusiasts who will participate in 5 days of rides and other activities. The organization has made arrangements with two towns to serve as hosts for the event and Berryville is the first on the list. Riders will begin checking in at Clarke County High School Friday where a tent camp will be set up for overnight accommodations. A full schedule of events has been arranged with volunteers to welcome participants and provide an entertaining visit. Tour rides continue Saturday, as do numerous other activities, culminating in an 8:00 p.m. gathering at Rose Hill Park as Bike Virginia celebrates their 25th year. Riders will stay a second night in Berryville on Saturday and push-off to nearby Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia for the next leg of the event on Sunday.

As preparations are finalized police and other town officials say they are ready for the weekend population explosion. Chief Neal White of the Town of Berryville Police said, ” We are taking a very active approach to ensure that we have adequate representation in the community to promote the general welfare and safety for the community during this event.  We have been coordinating with other departments within the Town government as well as the local volunteer fire and rescue service in anticipation of the Bike Virginia event.”

As it turns out this will be a busy weekend throughout Clarke County as several other scheduled events are being held concurrently. HarvFest at Clermont Farm, the Amateur Radio Field Day event at the fairground, and the annual Horseshoe Curve barbecue fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Fire Department are all happening at the same time. Some local residents have expressed concerns that these events, in addition to the massive bicycle outing, may stretch police presence extremely thin. Sheriff Tony Roper commented on these concerns saying,”We have arranged for additional staffing to be deployed, funded in part by grant revenue from the Department of Homeland Security. The coordination between emergency services and law enforcement is a fairly constant undertaking. While there has not been a specific scenario involving the bike event, we had a table-top exercise with all of emergency services several months ago in order to evaluate our ability to coordinate efforts.”

Safety is paramount to the Bike Virginia organization as well. All participants get a mandatory check-in briefing with safety information covering Virginia cycling laws, safety tips, and tour safety policies. The quality and importance of this and other safety programs implemented by Bike Virginia was recently recognized by the state of Virgina as Bike Virginia was awarded the Governor’s Transportation Safety Award for 2012. The award recognized three bicycle education/awareness programs including the safety briefing held at the tour.

The town has also been busy planning events and entertainment to capitalize on the economic benefits from the the throng of visitors the event will bring. Organizers say that the tour’s impact on local economies in rural areas brings over $2.8 million in spending and indirect revenue.

At a more direct level, grant money from Bike Virginia’s Sunrise Grant Project will flow into two local organizations.  In 2011,  Bike Virginia began offering grants to improve biking in the communities they visit. Grant amounts of up to $500 are awarded with a total maximum amount of $5,000  to be granted in the host region in a given year.

In Berryville, two grants will be awarded to local organizations.

The Town of Berryville and County of Clarke submitted a joint grant proposal for the $500 grant to start employee Bike Share Program for the town/county office building. Employees of the Berryville/Clarke County Government Center including Town of Berryville, County of Clarke, and Handley Library personnel will have access to the bike to run errands, attend meetings, and for wellness riding during breaks, lunch, and after work.

The Berryville Police Department also applied for the $500 grant to purchase materials for improving an existing bicycle safety/ bike rodeo education program. The department’s officers reach approximately 400 youth per year with these safety courses.  Funds had recently dried up for the yearly event and Chief White was thankful for the positive impact this infusion of funds will have in the community. “This grant will help the police department sponsor bicycle rodeos for years to come, and hopefully through these events the department can help foster young cyclists to become responsible users of our streets and educate them in best practices to prevent injuries.”

The Bike Virginia event officially kicks off at at 2:00 p.m. Friday as riders begin checking in at Clarke County High School. Events and riders will will be in and around the Berryville area through Sunday. The five day event will then continue into West Virginia, but travel routes for rides run throughout the northeastern portion of Virginia as well as areas of West Virginia and Maryland through Tuesday.


  1. Realistic Joe says:

    “We have arranged for additional staffing to be deployed, funded in part by grant revenue from the Department of Homeland Security”.

    I can stay away from all the commotion, let them ride around and have fun. Not a problem.

    What I do have a problem with is; Federal and State grant funding. Somehow I don’t envision taxpayer’s funds for “Homeland Security” going toward extra staffing for bicycle riders. Those funds should come from entry fees and/or perhaps small donations from the businesses that will see some of this million dollar revenue.

    Grant funding, in my opinion, is out of control.

    • jennifer says:

      Joe, I must say that my first instinct is to agree with you but we could also think of it like this:

      The government routinely seeks to promote the economy through various tourism efforts. For example, the fact that Virginia has seen fit to put up signs telling people how quickly they can get to the beach using various routes even though most people can read maps or have GPS, or by funding pretty, tax supported rest areas in remote places along the highway (that often take away from private enterprise business).

      Homeland Security is available to help localities maintain safety and security during large public events. We can debate, and possibly even agree, on the value or Constitutionality of the mission and authority of the Dept. of Homeland Security, but that is another topic.

      This event is expected to promote tourism and is definitely a large public event for a county this size. Why should tourism and security funding be reserved for dc, nova, Richmond, and the like.

      • Another View says:

        The federal government should not be funding these events in “dc, nova, Richmond, and the like”, or Berryville. Realistic Joe is correct.

        • jennifer says:

          perhaps we agree then that the department of homeland security should be eliminated. it is redundant and excessive.

          • Another View says:

            I’ll see your Dept. of Homeland Sec. and raise you an Educ., HHS, Housing, Labor, Agric., Labor, Trans., Commerce, & Veterans Affairs, all of which should be eliminated.

        • jennifer says:

          And the Governor does not need to use our money to buy signs to tell people what they can find out for themselves with maps and gps, or use our tax dollars to support rest stops that keep ppl from using private businesses off exit ramps, or make announcements for the redskins…..etc.

  2. No wonder we’re broke

  3. My 2 Cents says:

    Sarge and Another View, could we be seeing a wedding in the future???????

  4. Southern Hospitality says:

    All grant and funding issues and debate aside, it’s our opportunity to shine as a town and county and I for one welcome them. Thanks for choosing Berryville/Clarke.

  5. Voice of Reason says:

    With all due respect, the comments of the sheriff all concern “public safety”. We are all members of the public whether we participate in the bike event or not. Imagine the public outcry if, heaven forbid, an issue arose where a small sheriff’s dept was overwhelmed. The fact that the Sheriff was able to coordinate a mulit-agency plan without straining his already stretched budget should be applauded by our community. Many citizens speak to increasing our potential for economic development. This event can be a small step in that direction. Let’s hope we don’t scare any horses.

    • Right Winger says:

      “…Let’s hope we don’t scare any horses.”

      Okay, VOR, you owe me a new monitor and keyboard! I just spit my soda all over them!!!

      GOOD ONE!!!!

  6. Realistic Joe says:

    As per their website: There are five Homeland Security missions:
    1.Preventing terrorism and enhancing security
    2.Securing and managing our borders;
    3.Enforcing and administering our immigration laws
    4.Safeguarding and securing cyberspace
    5.Ensuring resilience to disasters

    Then, like all Government Agencies, they have “branches” that cover diverse fields. In being so assorted it has gotten impossible to track what any of them clearly accomplish and at what cost. In my opinion, our elected representatives from county levels to our Governor, Senate and Congress need to back up and truly review funding. Give incentives to the workers within those agencies that locate ways to save funds – they used to do that “on the mountain”. A letter of gratitude came along with a $500 check from a logical discovery that saved thousands of dollars in one year.

    Our National debt is what now?

    Don’t take me wrong, I never, ever mind safety or costs when it comes to children. But as adults we need to find other ways to make our little corner of the world nicer and not depend on handouts that costs the taxpayer money that we can’t afford and that our country can’t truly back anymore without borrowing.

    As Sarge would say. Rant off and I hope this event goes without a hitch or injury.

  7. First rescue call for a biker. 39 yr old female wrecked her bike before 9am Sat. Hope she is ok.

  8. Mountain Man says:

    According to my bearcat scanner it took em a while to get to her. Didn’t sound like the rescue squads were out on the bike course. Kind of dissapointing. Can anyone shed light on this?

  9. looking@clarke says:

    “We have arranged for additional staffing to be deployed, funded in part by grant revenue from the Department of Homeland Security”.

    I know of one county deputy car that has been at home all day on Friday and all day today; seems this would have been “an all hands on deck” kind of weekend for the Clarke County Sheriff Department instead of depending on outside help from Department of Homeland Security.

    • Most likely that individual had all the time in that they were allowed. Remember our county budget? Something about overtime pay?

  10. in disbielf says:

    Why isn’t there any comments? Am I the only one who went?

    I’ll keep my mouth shut until someone has something to say!

  11. in disbielf says:

    This was nothing but BORING!!! I’m not happy I wasted my evening on this.

    I arrived at 5pm Saturday and amazingly parked right on Main St, there was plenty of parking everywhere.
    At first glance it didn’t look like anything was going on, there was NOTHING no welcoming signs Flowers just a barricade.

    If the Grill didn’t set up in the street it would have been EMPTY!!! Nobody else got involved.

    The Grill was Jammin inside and out, all to be served with great big smiles! I heard many people thanking Brian for doing such a great job. Did the Town and planners think the owners of the Grill were going to do everything and pull off this street festival? That’s the way it looked to an outsider. A street festival with one business involved.
    To everyone at the GRILL THANK YOU for making the only fun we had.

    Mr. B’s was at the far end to serve very few prepaid customers.

    Inside the park 2 craft vendors that did very little business.The boy scouts were selling drinks and hot dogs for a canoe trip.
    If you didn’t drink there wasn’t nothing to do but stand there. Sorry I’m not into bluegrass music but for what it was they did a good job.
    The Barns Beer garden had plenty of seating they had 3 typical beers for sale. No flowers balloons notta.
    I’d say there was no more than 150 – 200 people at a time in the park.

    As for all the police it looked like we all must be crazy and out of control here. There was way too many police standing around doing NOTHING! Lets face it they acted like real BIKERS were showing up here!

    By 8pm chairs were being put on a truck except for the area for the Grill. This was suppose to be until MIDNIGHT!! With nothing for anyone to do, they all left by 8-830.

    Where was all the support from the LOCALS? Where was any of our officials? I saw nobody!

    • Maybe some of the bikers scared the horses somewhere and the horse owners asked the town to give the event the cold shoulder.

  12. Sam Card says:

    Bike riders and local people seem to enjoy the saturday evening concert in Rose Hill Park. The bike riders were friendly and they enjoyed the beautiful pastroral scenery.

  13. Just wondering says:

    I saw no one in attendance either. I would think that there would have been some “official” presence from BOS for an event that was supposed to raise significant funding for the county.
    NO ONE!
    Very few locals that I knew.
    Only a small percentage of the bikers that were taking part in the affair.
    Lackluster all the way around … except for The Berryville Grille. Thanks for preventing the entire community from looking like they didn’t care about anyone that doesn’t live here. Thanks for preventing the entire community from looking like they don’t want or need ANYONE to spend money in our establishments.
    Let’s make certain that we scoop up some more land easements!

  14. Realistic Joe says:

    What the heck happened? Was it that bad?

    Hope others that attended share their feelings about this event.

    • in disbielf says:

      Yes Joe sadly it was.
      Your not suppose to tell the truth, your suppose to be polite and keep your mouth shut. Proper etiquette is leaving a comment like Sams.
      Perhaps my expectations were to high, next time I will know better.

      The Grill carried off the entire street event by themselves! THANK YOU BERRYVILLE GRILL!!

      Theres no comments because folks just didn’t go.

  15. Sam Card says:

    Berryville Grill put forth a tremendous effort. I saw Jesse Russell and other local people enjoying the music at Rose Hill Park. Kim, the leader of the bike ride, and I had a great conversation. In Damascas, Virginia, I enjoyed Appalachian Trail Days where hikers and locals met and mixed. I am happy that Berryville chose to host the bike event. On saturday, some people were at Claremont.

  16. Sam Card says:

    The colorful decorated cupcakes, that were given away in the gazebo during the Bluegrass concert, were a sweet tasty delight that many people enjoyed in Rose Hill Park.