JEFFERSON — They staggered their motorcycles in long rows in front of the shop, sitting their helmets on the seats and sipping coffee while they waited for the ride to begin.
More than 60 motorcycle riders came out to Spirit Cycles in Jefferson on Saturday to honor local restaurant owner Mike Carron, who died Aug. 2 from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.
Some were neighbors, some were friends who ate regularly at Mike’s Grill and some were there for the ride. But no matter what their reason, Mike’s Memorial Ride coordinators Suzanne and Richard Bunker were touched by the large numbers of people coming to support Carron.
"It warms my heart to see all these people come out," Richard Bunker said. "I think Mike would be smiling right now."
Homer resident Steve Cash agreed, saying he wanted to come participate in the ride in honor of his late friend.
"I knew him (Carron) ever since he started the restaurant," he said. "Mike would be pleased to see this many people come out for him."
The ride began at 10 a.m. with a police escort guiding the riders onto Washington Street. They turned right down Jeff Roberts Road, got on Holly Springs Road and Ga. 82 going toward Maysville.
From there, the route took the riders on Ga. 52 into Hall County and took several different roads on their way to the Chattahoochee National Forest and back to Mike’s Grill in downtown Jefferson.
In addition to the ride, participants enjoyed a buffet lunch at Mike’s Grill and a raffle, with the proceeds going to the Jonas Brothers Change for the Children Foundation. Many local businesses and restaurants helped donate food and items to make the event a success.
"I could not have done this without Mike," Suzanne Bunker said, looking around at the number of riders signing in and wearing memorial armbands and Mike’s Grill T-shirts. "People who knew him that I didn’t even know volunteered and said, ‘What do you need?’"
"Everybody around here knew him (Carron). He talked to everybody who came into the restaurant," she added.