Today we’re heading to the Sunflower Farm in Rutledge, Georgia to ride in a 3 day outdoor cycling festival. It’s called the Bike Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) Spring Tune Up and it begins tomorrow. For the past 23 years cyclists have been meeting in Rutledge to celebrate a new cycling season and begin their preparation for the Big BRAG (7 days) which takes place in June. It’s a big event…over 800 riders participated in last year’s Spring Tune Up. It’s our first BRAG and we’re looking forward to it. Should be fun!
After arriving at the Sunflower Farm in the late afternoon we set up camp, registered for the event, then went into the small town of Rutledge to have a look around. After dinner at “Yesterday’s Cafe” we went back to our camp in “tent city” and settled in for the night.
BRAG Day 1
After breakfast we made our way to out to the starting point. We knew the course would wind through some beautiful, rural, hilly Georgia countryside. VERY HILLY countryside! Stephanie and I rode together the first 7.5 miles. The first mile was pretty easy pedaling, then we ran out of level ground. We were either flying down a hill, or grinding up a hill. To my surprise, Stephanie would fly by me on every climb. I’d have to get off the seat just to stay close. We reached the first rest stop, topped off our water bottles, grabbed a snack and rode on. A couple of miles after the rest stop Stephanie reached the halfway point of her ride, turned around and began the return to camp. I’d decided on a 70 mile course so I had a few more hours of fun to look forward to. I enjoy participating in events like the BRAG. Having so many other riders out on the course helps the time pass quickly. There are always folks to ride and talk with along the way. Additionally there are always little “competitions” going on whether they are with other riders or just personal challenges. I enjoyed the 70 miles of twisting and turning through the Georgia countryside, and had a lot of fun. After returning to camp and taking a quick shower we drove to Madison for a late lunch and talked about our rides. I was glad to hear that Stephanie had enjoyed and gained a lot of confidence from the ride (except for the sore butt!). Both of us were looking forward to Saturday’s ride. We decided to ride together and picked a 30 mile course. After our late lunch we returned to camp and spent some time meeting with several of our “neighbors” sharing stories. We eventually made our way to the stage where a couple of bands were providing entertainment for the evening. It was a good day at BRAG.
Day 2 BRAG
It has been another beautiful day here in Georgia. After breakfast we prepped our bikes and set out on our ride. We had rest stops at 10 and 20 miles which helped make this a comfortable ride. In a repeat performance Stephanie proved to be “strong in the hills”. The rest stops were in small towns so we got a little “local flavor” as we pedaled through Rutledge and Madison. The 30 miles went by quickly and soon were back at camp. After lunch a lot of folks started packing up and leaving due to predicted thunderstorms. Rain is expected to begin by 8 tomorrow morning and last throughout day. We packed everything in the truck except our tent. Tomorrow morning we'll make decisions about whether to ride. After a tasty “food truck” dinner in the campground we spent the rest of the evening listening to a string band from Atlanta, followed by an Allman Brothers Tribute Band. The string band was very good; the Tribute band was outstanding. A crowd (Stephanie and I included) gathered on a sandy area in front of the stage and spent a lot of the evening dancing to the tunes of the Allman Brothers. Pretty awesome! When the band finished their performance we called it a night.
Day 3 BRAG
At 6 o’clock this morning thunder and lightning woke us up. When we started to take the tent down it started to rain. We got our things packed away about the time it stopped raining. Perfect timing! You gotta love that…Mother Nature has a good sense of humorJ! After a cup of coffee we joined hundreds of other riders in the decision to enjoy the 2 awesome days of riding we’ve had at the BRAG Spring Tune Up and move on. The decision was made easy by the threatening sky and the local radar. Would we ride in the BRAG again? Absolutely! It would be fun to participate in this event with a group of friends. Let us know if you’re interested. Right now we are on our way to breakfast. We’re gonna have another look at the radar, pull out a map and head out in search of some blue sky!