If you see cars driving around St. George Island this week sporting a sticker that reads “310,” it’s not a verse from the Bible or a secret organization.
Although it does speak of the religious-like zeal of an elite crew.
That’s because 310 refers to the number of miles between Griffin, Georgia and St. George Island, the distance of an annual late summer bike ride that this week marked its 15th anniversary.
Judd Ficklen, son of Susan and the late John Ficklen, of St. George Island, has done all 15, as has his friend John Rafferty, both of whom were among the 11 riders who rolled into the island Sunday afternoon.
Also among this year’s riders was Stuart Ogletree who together with his brother first pioneered the ride in the 1980s and 1990s, before it went dormant.
“We heard about it from them,” said Judd Ficklen.
The ride was resurrected in 2008, with only three riders, and has been expanded and held ever since, usually between the middle of August and middle of September.
The band of bikers, mostly from Griffin and who this year included Ficklen’s son Will as well as riders from as far as Atlanta and even Connecticut, left Saturday at 4:30 a.m. for the first leg, a 200-mile trip mainly along Highway 41 through Manchester, Buena Vista, Shellman, and Colquitt before arriving in Bainbridge about 6:30 p.m.
There they met up with their wives, who drove ahead to the island to be part of the week-long vacation.
On Sunday morning it’s off for the second leg, a 110-mile ride to Quincy and then, beginning about 17 miles north of Hosford, a final stretch along Highway 65 through Sumatra, Eastpoint and the island.
Before they all drive home Saturday, the riders marked the highlight of the annual trip. “All of the guys, we go out in the ocean and stand out on a sandbar, drinking beer and talking about how great we are,” Judd Ficklen said. “That’s always the highlight of the trip, lying and standing out in the ocean.”