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Column: Cyclists celebrate 33 years of pedaling through Georgia
by Kate Mahoney
Roswell resident and member of the Sorella Cycling bike race team
June 13, 2012 11:00 AM | 1871 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The world really looks different when you see it from a bicycle. For seven days, beginning June 2 in Fort Oglethorpe, almost 1,000 cyclists from across Georgia and surrounding states joined the 2012 B.R.A.G (Bike Ride Across Georgia). While many of us could never imagine a tour of this scale outside the comfort of our cars, this diverse group of riders viewed over 370 miles of Northern Georgia’s best roads in this completely different way. The riders pedaled their way into Roswell on June 5, and while based out of Roswell High School, enjoyed our local roads, community events, restaurants, and shops before breaking camp on June 7. This marks the first time that Roswell has hosted an overnight stay for B.R.A.G.

Inspired by a similar state-honoring bicycle tour in Iowa called R.A.G.B.A.I., our own B.R.A.G. celebrated their 33rd tour of Georgia this year. With humble beginnings — 60 riders finished the first event (out of 120 starters) — B.R.A.G. has grown steadily over the years. Even with almost 1,000 riders traveling more than 370 miles from Fort Oglethorpe through a “U-shaped” route to Tiger, Georgia, 2012 participation was slightly lower than normal. According to Vicki Thompson, Rider Director for B.R.AG., the hilly, strenuous terrain of this year’s route didn’t appeal to all riders.

Despite the terrain, Pete Dillard, a rider from Columbia, South Carolina, has now completed his 22nd B.R.A.G. And each year, his riding team grows as more friends decide to test their legs. For Pete, it’s the camaraderie of the riders that keeps him coming back.

For others, like John Thoms from Ellijay, Georgia, B.R.A.G. is a chance to experience new roads. “I love to ride, so it’s nice to see what else Georgia has to offer,” he said.

And despite mechanical bike issues this year, John was able to keep going with the help of local bike shops supporting the event. “You also get to spend seven days with folks who share your passion for cycling.” And that, John says, is worth the effort.

Interested for next year? The 2013 B.R.A.G. is heading to southern Georgia, but dates are pending. Watch www.brag.org for more details.

But B.R.A.G. is not just for the cyclist. The cities, like Roswell, that host the ride, warmly welcome the cyclists for the increase to vistorship that brings new guests to local restaurants, retailers, and hotels. And, Roswell put its best foot forward with community events honoring the cyclists at the Chattahoochee Nature Center and Downtown Historic Roswell, road signage, store events and discounts, and volunteer support of the ride.

Through B.R.A.G., the Historic Roswell Criterium Race, The Mayor’s Ride, and countless other bike events each year, we reconfirm why Roswell is recognized as a “Bicycle Friendly City” by the League of American Bicyclists.
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