2009-06-11 / Front Page


BRAG riders find a warm welcome in Washington-Wilkes
KIP BURKE news editor


GRAD riders arrive in Wilkes County - FRIDAY UPDATE

By KIP BURKE, news editor
A cool end to a long hot ride made some 1,400 BRAG bicycle riders feel welcome as they arrived in Washington-Wilkes Friday morning.
            A welcome spray of cool water met the 1,400 BRAG bicycle riders who arrived Friday morning as the Washington Fire Department manned their ladder-mounted hose high above Hospital Drive near the finish line to Friday’s portion of the 2009 Bicycle Ride Across Georgia.
            The BRAG came to Washington for an overnight stay and, despite heat, humidity, and a passing thunderstorm, riders felt welcomed not only by the fire department, but by live music and extended shopping hours downtown with free buses running to help the visitors into town.
            The ride has already been marred by an accident Wednesday morning in Watkinsville in which Wilkes County rider Steve Echols and two others were injured. “Traffic was brutal around Athens,” one rider said. “We’re glad to be in the country.”
            Most riders spent Friday night camping at the now-former high school complex. “We’ve got a free shuttle to get them from the school to downtown, to the B&Bs and hotels, and out to the Kettle Creek Battleground. All the restaurants and lodging in the city are full Friday night,” Tourism Director Ashley Barnett said. “It’s great to have all these BRAG people in town tonight, and I hope they’ll come back.”
            Vendors at the BRAG campground did brisk business Friday as hundreds of hungry and thirsty riders came in.
            As before, motorcycle-mounted Wilkes County EMS units met riders at the county line on their personal motorcycles. Wilkes County deputies, Tignall Police, and Washington Police provided assistance with traffic as riders arrived throughout the morning and early afternoon. As the last stragglers were coming in by 4:30, there had been no significant injuries in Wilkes County.
            After enjoying Washington overnight, riders began to depart by sunrise. Their course Saturday morning takes them from the front of the school, up Depot Street, east on West Robert Toombs to Poplar Drive, then to the Danburg Road. The first rest stop will be the Sandtown home of Steve and Marie Echols several miles out Danburg Road and riders will cross into Lincoln County on their way to the finish at Clarks Hill Lake.

Return to top