The bicycle ride across Georgia (BRAG) will be making a stop in Hinesville as they cycle across the state celebrating their 40th anniversary.
The annual ride was founded by the late Dot Moss, a longtime Liberty County resident who passed away Dec. 27, 2018.
Moss was an outdoorswoman who loved physical activities and gardening. She was inspired to create BRAG after learning about and cycling in the Iowa RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). The first event in cycling circuit in Georgia was called the Great GASBE (Georgia’s Annual State Bicycling Event). That first ride began in Savannah and ended in Columbus. Out of 120 riders that started only 60 cyclists completed the 300 mile course.
The last time BRAG made a stop in Hinesville was in 2011 when 1,200 cyclists made a pit-stop at Snelson Golden Middle School. Some cyclists stayed at hotels while others camped overnight.
This year Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Director Leah Poole has planned a free community concert for the riders. The event will feature live music, food trucks and a beer garden. Midway and Commerce Streets in downtown Hinesville will close at 3 p.m. June 7 in preparation for the concert, according to Poole. Some parking spaces beside the Historic Courthouse will be blocked off earlier so that a stage can be brought in that morning, she added.
Poole said the community is extremely proud that a local resident founded the event and that the Chamber has been working on the concert and welcoming the cyclists since the beginning of the year. She estimates roughly 1,200 cyclists will participate in the event. Poole predicts cyclists should begin arriving around 10 a.m. from Swainsboro.
Local BRAG cyclist Palmer Dash said cyclists coming into Hinesville have numerous options for lodging.
“Riders generally have a choice of where they will spend the night,” he said. “The majority will be ‘camping’ either sleeping in a gym or a tent or a small number in a nearby motels.
He thinks many will stay overnight at James Brown Park.
“It is an interesting site to see hundreds of sleeping bags filling up a gym floor and often spilling into the hallways,” he said.
And they will likely be spending lots of money while they are here.
“Although meals are typically available at the camp site, many riders arriving early will seek out food almost as soon as they get to the daily destination,” he said. “And this year I understand there will be a concert later on in the evening…..always popular….and believe it or not there will be some riders who despite having ridden 80 plus miles on Friday will be on the dance floor when the music starts. Leah Poole and her crew have done an excellent job planning and promoting the event.”
The 2011 BRAG brought in roughly $75,000 into the local economy. In July of 2007 BRAG rolled into town and stayed at Bradwell Institute also giving the local economy a boost.