Some 250 motorcycle riders kicked off a ride from Gainesville to Asheville, N.C., Saturday morning.
Thunder on the Parkway, an almost 300-mile round-trip ride, began in the Wild Wing Cafe parking lot on Jesse Jewell Parkway for the trip up the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway for a final destination in Maggie Valley. Riders from as far away as California, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia took part.
Proceeds from the event went to benefit the Hall-Dawson CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The weekend started off with a Biker or Not Meet and Greet on Friday night at the cafe, where bikers could sign up to participate in the ride while enjoying live music, food and vendors.
Darius Hutchinson, a motorcycle enthusiast for more than 20 years, came to support the bikers for “kickstands up,” the official start of the ride. Although he couldn’t participate this year, Hutchinson was just as excited to experience it.
“I had some surgery several weeks ago, so I wasn’t able to sign up for the ride this year,” he said. “I definitely want to participate in the future. There’s nothing like riding through these mountains, and I think this is going to be a great event and experience for everyone involved. I wish I was joining everybody!”
Alice Brounslee was in attendance Saturday morning to watch friends take part in the ride.
“I know a few riders doing this and some that are meeting up with the group later on down the road,” she said.
“They’ve all been so excited about it. For them, taking a weekend trip through the mountains on their motorcycles is what they live for.”
Maggie Valley Festival Grounds was also holding a meet and greet event at the end of the journey.