BIKE RIDE ACROSS GEORGIA (BRAG) 2012
Since 2006 I have headed to Georgia for the annual BRAG ride. The ride generally has between 1000 to 1500 riders participating in this cross-state bike ride. Following our initial ride in 2006, we joined with some of the BRAG rider for a trip to the south island of New Zealand. It was a great trip with unbelievable natural beauty. On that trip we got to be good friends with the CEO of BRAG, Jerry Colley, and his wife, Gloria. We also forged some friendships that have continued through the ride in 2012.
After that New Zealand trip, my wife, who is not a cyclist, decided that she was not going to stay at home while I bike through some of the most exotic spots in the world. Joining our international trips as a non-rider, she soon showed her skills as the SAG wagon support and Happy Hour hostess. The later position became the most important one on future trips for tired bikers. She has now accompanied me to France, Portugal, Hungary and Turkey on BRAG organized trips and has skillfully made the trip more pleasurable for all the participants.
Naturally, she became a volunteer in support of the Georgia BRAG ride as well where her hosting skills brought old friends together after a long days ride. She also has made thousands of peanut butter sandwiches over the years. This year we drove our newly acquired RV to BRAG and soon found ourselves circled up with about 10 other RV’s most much larger than our 23 footer.
Because of a busy schedule, we chose to take the shorter BRAG offering consisting of a 3 day ride of about 150 miles—also known as BRAG Light. Each day the group of bikers would move bag and baggage to a new city near the end of the ride. This year’s ride started in northern Georgia in Ft. Oglethorpe and for us would end three days later in Roswell, Georgia. In between we stopped in Dalton and Jasper. The first day’s ride of 47 miles from Ft. Oglethorpe was beautiful, weaving it’s way through the Chickamauga National Military Park. As we rode through this beautiful park there were reminders of the civil war activity that penetrated this peaceful environment. Numerous monuments chronicled the battles that had taken place.
Leaving the Park’s proper we rode into the country side that had its own unique beauty. Farm house and fertile fields dotted the landscape.
The second day’s ride of 53 miles gave us a chance to roll up and down the hills of this part of Georgia. We visited a historical house along the way and at one of the rest stops there were some neat cannons.
While many of us were pushing the pedals all day, Georgie was working as a volunteer at the Rest Stop for the bikers. Our guide dog in training, Barclay, also helped by just laying in the sun and chewing on his bone. He was the object of most bikers’ interest as many had recalled a black lab that Georgie had brought with her to last year’s BRAG. Barclay is a yellow lab with white fur and a lot of eye liner. Even burley bikers need a puppy fix. The final destination that day was the County Recreation Center in the lovely little town of Jasper. Along with many other bikers we had a delightful dinner at the Woodbridge Inn which actually had a wood bridge you have to cross to get to it.
Monday night in Jasper also offered the threat of rain for the night and possibly into the next day. Sure enough, what would a BRAG week be without a rainy day? So starting early in the AM and continuing throughout the entire 50+ mile ride, it rained. And not just a light gentle rain, but a nasty downpour. Water was flowing across the road and most bikers took extra precautions going downhill and around corners. While the intensity of the ride made it difficult to see the beauty of the landscape we were riding through, it did give us a good story to tell. When you have to bike between point A and point B and the only way to get there is by bike, you pedal hard and forget about the elements.
Fortunately, all the bikers made it to Roswell without incident. Rolling into the school parking lot I spotted the circle of RVs. Shortly after that Georgie and Barclay arrived in our RV and that evening we celebrated the end of the ride with the traditional Happy Hour.
And the next morning as we prepared to leave, the RVers had a celebratory pancake breakfast.
The BRAG ride was a good test for the RV and a good test for me. 50 miles a day for three days in a row told me I could do it, but only after a lot more practice and a lot more road miles on the bike. Barclay said that he had a good time too and enjoyed meeting new friends.
So if you are looking for a good ride and good friendship, consider doing BRAG next year.