One of the things that continue to fascinate me about cross-state bike rides is the variety of people that do them. There are 7 year olds and 70 year olds. There are very small people and very large people. Some are very fast and some are very slow. There are singles, couples, families and teams or groups. And they bring all kinds of bikes. There are road bikes, mountain bikes with knobbies, hybrids, recumbents, tandems and three seaters pulling a tag-a-long. But they all have one thing in common. They have a lot of fun!
In June, 1999, I was privileged to ride in my third BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia). We began in LaGrange, which is about 20 miles from Alabama, and rode across the state to Savannah, a total of 435 miles. We began on Sunday morning and finished on Saturday afternoon. The weather was unbelievable for this time of year with overcast skies keeping the temps mostly in the 70’s while we were riding. We had overnight stops in Columbus, Thomaston, Perry, Dublin, Metter, and Statesboro. BRAG is a family oriented tour, not a race. It is recreational, social and in some ways, educational. We traveled at our own pace along a set route and at the end of each day, tent camped at a local college or high school. There was even some indoor camping in the gym if you wanted to sleep with about two hundred other people! Everyone was responsible for his or her own meals but most choose to eat breakfast and supper in the school cafeteria. And I found the food to be really good. Sometimes the lines are very long but this gives people time to talk to each other and make new friends. During the afternoon and evening there were various activities and entertainment. And some of the towns we visited went all out to see that we had a good time. In Thomaston they closed the streets around the Courthouse Square for a party and dance featuring The Platters. At Fort Valley State University there was a large tent set up with numerous food vendors, entertainment and an invitation to swim at the pool. West Laurens HS in Dublin was a great stop and the football coach there was from Lenoir City, TN, my home town! In Metter, there was another street dance with CC and Company. The ride ended by going around Savannah’s historic Madison and Monterey Squares and through historic neighborhoods with large trees full of Spanish moss draping across the streets. Our final destination was Daffin Park where we ate a great BBQ lunch and had all the free beer we wanted (and were willing to stand in a long line for).
One of the things I’ve noticed about these kinds of rides is that by mid-week you have lost track of time and don’t even know what day it is…and really don’t care. You just ride your bike, meet lots of people, eat lots of food and have lots of fun. Lord willing, I hope to do these kind of tours for years to come!