Murrells Inlet: Cyclists get a event of their own
By Jackie R. Broach
For years, cyclists have participated in a casual way in Murrells Inlet 2020’s annual Race for the Inlet, a 5K walk and run. But this year, they’ll have their own event.
On March 25, one day after the Saturday race, the inlet will be the site of the first ever Ride for the Inlet, an event that will take cyclists on one of three routes down oak-shaded back roads and through the rural parts of Georgetown and Horry counties. Participants can pick from a casual eight-mile family ride, a 26-mile ride or a Metric Century (65 miles, for experienced riders 18 and older only).
The ride starts at 8 a.m. at Grand Strand Bicycles at Woodside Village. About 40 riders are signed up so far, said Sue Sledz, director of Murrells Inlet 2020. Grand Strand Bicycles is the event host and after-ride refreshments will be served there from noon until 2 p.m.
Sledz approached the business about helping to organize a ride after last year’s race. Since the race started seven years ago it has “also incorporated a casual cruiser ride-along,” said Mary Woolford, who owns Grand Strand Bicycles with her husband, Tim. “It was just a little three-mile family fun ride along with the runners.”
Sledz told Woolford she wanted to get more cyclists involved and Woolford outlined a plan. Other marathons, including the Myrtle Beach Marathon and the Charleston Bridge Run, have related rides the following Sunday and Woolford decided that was the way to go.
Grand Strand Bicycles hosts group rides from its Murrells Inlet location every Saturday with more than 100 riders during the peak tourist season and more than 50 the rest of the year. Many of their regulars for the group are looking forward to the inaugural Ride for the Inlet.
“We have our own cycling club and so many of them are so excited about this event they said if we needed them to they’d be happy to volunteer instead of ride,” Woolford said. “We said, ‘no, get your family and friends to volunteer. There are going to be a lot of people from out of town and we want you guys out there riding with them and making sure everybody is taken care of and setting the pace.’ We kind of feel like the whole club is hosting.”
The ride will have support from law enforcement in Georgetown and Horry counties to keep everyone safe during the event. Routes will be well-marked and cue sheets will be handed out to make sure no one wanders too far off track.
For those casual riders who haven’t participated in a ride before, Woolford said all you need is a bicycle and a helmet.
“Everybody needs to wear a helmet, even on the casual ride. Otherwise, just have fun,” she said.