Despite morning storms, the Covington Century returned as a success Saturday.
The 100-mile bike ride began at DeKalb Technical College before sunrise and continued throughout the day with an estimated 1,000 cyclists participating from all over Georgia.
The exact numbers won't be in until early this week, but it was a strong turnout for the race which took a three-year hiatus after being known as one of the state's most popular rides.
"It went very well," said Walt Masey, Director of Special Projects with the Southern Bicycle League. "The Southern Bicycle League is real proud we were able to be part of this and bring the Covington Century back to Covington."
After being put on annually by Project Adventure Kids for 22 years, the race stopped when the organization closed its doors in 2009. The Southern Bicycle League then stepped up and is giving proceeds from this year's race to Newton County Trails, Hometown Animal Rescue and Pound Puppies ‘N Kittens.
Much of the route was the same as it was before the ride's hiatus, but Saturday's event brought a few changes.
There were more signage along the route, which stretched from Newton, to Morgan and Walton counties, while going through Jersey, Social Circle, Newborn, Rutledge, Newborn, Mansfield, Good Hope, Oxford and Covington, and there were also four rides being offered this time around.
There was the traditional 100-mile ride, a 66-mile ride, a 30-mile ride and a family-style 13-mile ride.
"Everybody seems to have loved it," Masey said. "It was a great route, similar to the ones we had before with small changes."
Among the estimated 1,000 participants were many from the metro Atlanta area, who enjoyed riding in the rural areas of the state, as opposed to the main roads and crowded neighborhoods of the city.
Among those leaving the city for Newton County was Dave Mathews of Decatur and Jeff Moore of Atlanta.
"This is like my fifth time doing the Covington Century," Mathews said. "It was kind of spitting (rain) a little bit at the start, but when we got here, this place was packed, I'd be shocked if they didn't have 1,000 riders."
Mathews and Moore took solace from the rain and the usual hustle and bustle of their city rides in Social Circle, sheltering at the fire station for about a half hour.
Overall the experience was one Mathews said he would repeat again, and it was a ride that the Southern Bicycle League will be happy to continue.