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Liberty's BRAGging rights
Some of the bicycles the riders used were new and technologically more advanced than their older counterparts. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon


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Hundreds of cyclists pedaled into Hinesville throughout Friday, bound for “Camp Bradwell” — the next-to-last stop on a weeklong trek that took them across the state of Georgia.
As the participants in the Bike Ride Across Georgia rolled into town, the hallways, classrooms and gym at Bradwell Institute began to fill with inflatable beds, bikes and blankets; and rows and rows of tents lined the track field while RV’s dotted the parking lots.
Although they had been drenched in downpours at times, the rain failed to dampen the cyclists’ spirits.
Ranging in age from 4 to 84, they remained energized and spoke positively about their ventures from Columbus to Liberty County.
Eunice Hess, 75, of Pennsylvania has been on many bike trips throughout the nation.
“I’ve done many of these before and I thought, ‘Let’s do Georgia.’ It was a little hot but the rain cooled us off and felt great,” she said.
Hess made the trip with her son, his wife and their daughter.
Traveling with her family did not deter her from taking things in stride.
“I like to ride on my own,” she said. “There are times when I want to go fast and there are times when I just want to slow down. It’s great because you can go at your own pace.
“My husband stayed home this time. He decided he was done but I can’t do that. I need to keep on moving,” she said.
The Kelly family of Dublin said it is wonderful to ride together and chose participating in BRAG as their vacation.
Jacob Kelly rode a tandem bike with his 7-year-old son, Cameron, while his wife, Melody, and his mother, Leslie, followed on their own bikes.
“It’s a nice coincidence that it’s also Father’s Day weekend. That was like a bonus treat,” Jacob Kelly said. “Next year, we plan to recruit even more family members to join us.”

Team Danger
Team Danger is an international cycling club with chapters in Canada, Mexico and the United States. A particularly rowdy group, they participated in BRAG just for the fun of it.
“Our group is primarily out of Augusta. We push ourselves as hard as we can go and it’s all about having fun,” Randy Cantu, the team’s spokesperson, said.
In keeping with the tradition of not taking life too seriously, the team described themselves as dangerous people on dangerous bikes riding on dangerous roads.
“Our motto is, ‘If no one ended up in the hospital or in jail, then it was a good bike ride,’” Cantu said.

Team Special Olympics
Team Special Olympics joined BRAG as a means of relaxing and enjoying themselves.
“When I initially came on board for the Special Olympics, it was to train them for competition,” team coach Lee Tidmore said. “But we decided to expand and let them participate in other activities as well.”
As with most teams and riders, the cyclists are followed by “SAG” wagons, an acronym for support and gear. The wagons are used to carry equipment and supplies from one destination to another. They also provide transportation for riders who may become fatigued or over exposed to the elements.
For Team Special Olympics, their SAG wagon driver, Gretel Tidmore, had a special friend who was riding shotgun.
During their ride in Douglas, some of the cyclists found a litter of kittens in very poor health.
“Most of the kittens were in bad shape. They were not going to make it,” Tidmore said. “But this lucky one was picked up by a rider from Ohio. She took him to the vet and since then, he has been riding with me while her new family completes the ride.
“After that, it’s off to his new home in Ohio,” she said. As a reminder of where he was found they named the kitten Douglas.

Benefits of BRAG
For the cyclists, BRAG was an opportunity to tour Georgia. For Liberty County the event provided exposure and financial gain.
“We set up a hospitality table and literally gave directions to almost every store and restaurant, and some of the hotels in town,” Kenny Smiley, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce executive director, said. “This was a real boost to our economy.”
The riders who needed transportation were shuttled in style in a 2003 Excursion Limousine from VIP Limousine Services in Hinesville.
The 22-passenger seat vehicle was seen throughout the city and the cyclists said they felt like stars for the evening.
“BRAG rarely does the same route two years in a row,” Smiley said. “In fact, this was the first time in seven years they came through Hinesville and I hope we did things well enough that they will want to return.”
While many of the riders took in the sites, others stayed at Camp Bradwell and enjoyed a catered meal by Mama Raphael. The meal was followed by an evening show that featured Johnny Cash and Elvis impersonators.
The riders then hit the sack and rested up for their final journey on Saturday to Daffin Park in Savannah.
It was reportedly a successful year for an annual event that was started by Liberty County resident Dot Moss in 1980.
She said the event is not a race but rather a way for friends, family and strangers, who love to ride, to cycle through cities and take in the sites.
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