Riders, take your mark, get set, ride for days. The 29th annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (B.R.A.G.) kicks off a week of riding throughout the state on June 8 at Oxford Baptist Church.
The first ride, dubbed the Noah's Ark Ride, begins in Oxford and will snake through Newton County. The riders will ride through Covington then on through Porterdale on Ga. Highway 81 en route to Griffin.
In all, seven rides make up a total distance ranging from 358 to 461 miles depending on whether riders chose to take the layover day off.
Along the way, riders will visit cities such as Macon, Dublin with their ultimate destination being St. Simons. Covington-Conyers Cycling Club (C4) president Maurice Carter has made the trek several times and says this year's event is special, especially for the city of Covington.
"B.R.A.G. always has a tremendous economic impact on the areas involved," Carter said. "Each stop along the way brings in an estimated $100,000 to that area."
In April, Carter and the Covington Police Department held their inaugural Bike Fest with the help of Bea Jackson at the Washington Street Community Center. Children learned about bicycle safety while enjoying a day's worth of activities.
Carter said he hopes to translate that success into the B.R.A.G. event as a bike parade for children is scheduled on Saturday at 6 p.m. Children wishing to participate must arrive at the Washington Street Community Center at 5:30 p.m. and police will escort the riders to the square.
Other festivities include a bike decorating contest. Carter encourages the entire community to come out and enjoy a concert on the square, which starts at 6:30 p.m.
While the B.R.A.G. may sound like a difficult event, Carter said it's actually geared for everyone.
"The faster you ride, the quicker you'll get to the next destination," he said. "Some experienced riders could get to the next destination in two or three hours. But I've seen tandem bikes with whole families riding. It's really great because everyone can participate regardless of fitness level."
Carter said riders come from as far away as California and even Canada. And while he has completed the ride several times, he said he will only be able to make a few of the legs because of other committments.
Even Porterdale hopes to benefit from the ride as downtown manager Sandy Fowler hopes to run a shuttle bus from the square in Covington to the Porterdale Village.
"I have asked the chamber of commerce if we can set up transportation to and from Porterdale," Fowler said. "It's a great opportunity for visitors to see the progress we've made in our city as we strive to become destination people think about when they come to Newton County."
For more information, visit www.brag.org or call (770) 498-5153.