Detoured: Bikers to skip Scottsville after narrow vote

Three hundred bikers poised to descend upon Scottsville next June may be peeling off in a different direction.

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation ignited a furor in Scottsville last month when it approached the town about hosting its Ride for Life fundraiser next year. The town's new mayor, Steve Phipps, cast an unprecedented tie-breaking vote in favor of the motorcycle event that unleashed a storm of criticism from vocal residents who feared the decision would turn Scottsville into a biker town.

Last week, Phipps says, he received a call from the Foundation saying the group is favoring the Goochland campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

Residents who opposed the Ride cited concerns about 300 motorcycles roaring into town during the church hour. And the anti-biker faction is ecstatic that Scottsville may no longer be a candidate for the event.

"I'm really happy," says Dena Radley, who owns The Sesame Seed, a downtown Scottsville boutique. "They wanted to take over the town."

Claire Mellow, whose husband, a Town Councilor, voted against the bikers, says she's "relieved" over the news.

"We love philanthropic organizations," says Mellow. "We love bikers but not 300 of them in a town of 500 people."

While some residents are celebrating abatement of an alleged biker overload, Pete ter Horst, executive director of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, refuses to confirm that Scottsville is out of the running.

"We haven't eliminated any site," ter Horst maintains. "We have a half a dozen we're looking at." And he says a decision won't be made until early next year.

There is one criterion that Scottsville didn't necessarily meet: "It is our goal that a city we went to would welcome us with open arms," says ter Horst.

Since the event was begun in 1984, the event has featured mostly affluent, middle-aged professionals who don their leathers on weekends– pretty unlikely candidates for a rumble. "We work hard to maintain a family atmosphere," says ter Horst.

Mayor Phipps says the town may try to host the event another year. "I've had more calls since the vote from people telling me they're glad I voted for it," he says.

However, Brian LaFontaine, president of the Scottsville Chamber of Commerce, came under fire for supporting the Ride for Life. He doesn't think the group's possible move to Goochland bodes ill for Scottsville's chances of attracting other philanthropic organizations.

"We look forward to other groups motorcycle or not to come through here," he says.

Radley also doesn't think the dust-up will scare off other groups interested in coming to Scottsville. They'll be welcome, she says, with one stipulation: "As long as they're not on motorcycles."

 

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