2014-06-18 / Editorial

AFTER BRAG

Don Lively

It was suddenly, eerily quiet.

The bedlam was over and hundreds of people who had become our new friends and temporary neighbors were gone.

For the previous two days the local middle school had been transformed into a campground where many spent the night. The air conditioned gymnasium attracted most of the travelers and a peek inside reminded me of the aftermath of some natural disaster like a hurricane or a tornado outbreak where folks find refuge together with sleeping bags and air mattresses covering the floor.

Wall to wall humanity.

Then they were gone.

They’d all disappeared into the misty morning.

Little evidence remained that a contingent of folks larger than the populations of most of the incorporated towns in our county had come, stayed, played and left.

Ladies and gentlemen, B.R.A.G. has left the campus.

The bikers are gone.

Not that kind of biker.

No scuffed leather jackets with outlaw rockers but plenty of multi colored Pearl Izumi aerodynamic shorts and jerseys.

No round “brain bucket” helmets with Harley Davidson emblems but lots of sleek and shiny designer headgear from REI or LL Bean.

Almost no tattoos but gallons of sunscreen.

Bicyclists, not motorcyclists.

B.R.A.G. = Bicycle Ride Across Georgia.

Nearly 1000 people including the riders and their support team.

Those folks are a good kind of crazy.

One of the first to arrive was a tandem with two riders peddling in perfect sync. Our town is roughly halfway through the four hundred mile trip. Because my mind works weirdly, my first thought when I saw the bicycle built for two was, “What if the two riders got into a serious spat?”

They still had two hundred miles to go and they will spend it, literally, a foot apart. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if you’re the front rider. You could just ignore the one behind you. But if you’re the back seat rider and you suddenly loathe your partner, and you have to spend the next two or three days looking at his back...well...

I ponder.

I saw another bike where the rider was, literally, laying on his back. His prone body was no more than a few inches off of the pavement, almost like a toboggan.

Bicyclists are a different breed.

They came from all over the Blessed South to participate.

I saw riders as young as ten, others in their mid seventies.

I met some serious bikers who rode an extra hundred miles on their “ day off,” others who stopped at every Dairy Queen they encountered.

I observed some folks who were lean and fit and others who were built like, well, like me.

All riding bicycles.

Four hundred miles.

For fun.

When I first heard the event was coming to town and that I’d be coordinating things locally I groaned when I learned that the group would be with us over a Wednesday night. Around these parts Wednesday nights mean prayer meeting and choir practice. Our little neck of the woods is, after all, the buckle of the Bible Belt.

I was afraid I was going to be short on volunteers to work the many functions.

I needn’t have worried about that cause, as always, folks around here stepped up.

A lack of help wasn’t the problem.

A lack of clear skies was.

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

That being said, I’m beginning to have serious questions as to whether He likes me.

Yep.

It rained.

As always.

But, as I’ve said many times, we don’t cuss the rain.

We adapted our plans, took our street dance and beer garden indoors and had a fine old time, locals and bikers together.

When it was over I’d had only three complaints out of the thousand folk.

Three.

All from the same snarly, unhappy woman.

Probably a Yankee but I couldn’t swear to that.

After her third bleat, with my most charming smile, I told her that Metter, the next stop on the tour, was only 52 miles away and that if she wanted to get a head start and leave a day early I’d show her the way.

Bless her heart.

Seriously, I don’t wish her any ill will and I hope she has had a safe return to her coven.

As for the rest of the B.R.A.G.ers, yall were great.

Come back to see us.

Rain or shine.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of Howlin’ At The Dixie Moon. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com and visit www.DonLively.com.

Return to top