Robert Wilhite, a friend of Phillips and one of the event organizers, said about 75 cyclists from all over the metro Atlanta area rode in the memorial ride.
“It was awesome that many came out, battled the rain, cold and high winds to show support for the life of Bud,” he said.
Josh Boggs, an event organizer and employee of Free-Flite Bicycles in Canton, said he, too, was impressed with the number of cyclists who showed up for the ride, some of whom did not know Phillips personally.
“Going up Highway 5, to look back and see all the cyclists coming up that hill (by Cherokee High School) was pretty emotional,” he said.
Riders were accompanied by a car with two “ghost bikes” mounted on a roof rack.
One, called the Angel Bike, listed the names of cyclists killed since January 2012. Another was dedicated to Phillips’ memory.
The ride was the only memorial service held for Phillips, friends said.
Cyclists stopped at the place where Phillips was hit on Highway 20 near the northbound ramp for Interstate 575.
“I’ve ridden since 1997, and of all those who have lost their lives while riding since then, Bud was the first person that I actually knew and was a friend. This really hit home for me,” Wilhite said.
Phillips, 66, collided with a pickup truck while riding on Jan. 5. He was hospitalized for his injuries and was taken off life support 10 days later.
Many motorists pulled off the road to let the group of cyclists ride along the memorial route, Wilhite said, noting that the cyclists wore black armbands during the ride. Some cyclists rode in a “missing man” formation to remember Phillips.
The cyclists had assistance from the Canton Police Department, Holly Springs Department and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office to ensure the ride went safely and smoothly.
“They helped us with blocking the roads on kind of a short notice, but they did a phenomenal job,” Boggs said.
In light of Phillips’ death and the recent death of a cyclist on Bells Ferry Road, both Wilhite and Boggs urged motorists to pay more attention to cyclists.
“When we ride on the road, which is the law, our goal is to not make life miserable for motorists. We just want to exercise, have fun and continue to enjoy the sport we love,” Wilhite said.
In Georgia, motorists are required by law to leave three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist.
Wilhite said he saw a cyclist run off the road by a van the morning of the ride. The cyclist fell but was not injured.
“This could have been totally avoided had the van just waited a few seconds until there was no oncoming traffic,” he said.
Boggs said rule-following and respect are necessary for both drivers and cyclists.
“Give us a little bit of space,” Boggs said.” Treat a bicycle like a vehicle. If you wouldn’t pass a car in a curve with a double yellow line, please don’t pass a cyclist. There’s not as much room as you think. We’re trying to coexist,” he said.
Cyclists, he added, are responsible for knowing the rules of the road and how they pertain to cycling.
Boggs recommended that cyclists always wear a helmet and consider wearing an identification bracelet while riding.