Every year since 1937, Jim’s Motorcycle Shop in Johnson City has sponsored “The Ride to the Roan” the first Sunday of the year. The social ride starts at Jim’s Motorcycle Shop and ends at the top of Roan Mountain. Since the ride is in January, and the elevation at the top of the mountain is over 6,000 feet, weather can make this a very interesting undertaking. This year, good weather greeted over 30 riders for the 72nd running of the event, though in past years snow has not been uncommon.
Another item that makes the ride interesting is its format: 30 minutes before everyone leaves the shop, a rider called “The Rabbit” leaves first and takes an unknown route, at an unknown pace, to the top of the mountain. The rest of the riders take whichever route they choose, at the pace they choose to ride, and when they arrive they check in and get their time. The top five people whose time is closest to The Rabbit win a plaque.
This year, Geoffrey Greene of Knoxville won with a time that was within 10 seconds of The Rabbit. “We took a different route than usual, and just took our time and enjoyed the ride,” says Greene. “It turns out that the new backroad route was actually a little shorter. I won only because I walked up first. My riding buddy would have if I didn’t. His time was about 10 seconds off mine.”
After the ride, Jim’s Motorcycle Shop provided lunch and everyone gathered back at the shop. “Everyone, riding all different types of bikes, are standing around eating and talking about the ride,” says Greene. “It’s just a big hoot!”