Day 7 was a very easy day listed at 65 miles and only 725 feet of elevation gain from Statesboro to Savannah, GA.
The day started very early. Many BRAGgers are an early bunch, but Day 7 was quite different. I guess the need to ride 65 miles, get cleaned up, get bikes loaded, and then catch your ride (whatever that may be) had people starting especially early. By 05:00, much of the gym was stirring and so was I.
I think our entire group set out with little or no breakfast. The cafeteria was too far away to be of any help and there was rumor of breakfast burritos at the BBQ truck up on the hill, but everyone seemed to rely on the first rest stop to get their feed bag on.
I think the prep went without a hitch for everyone unlike most of the other mornings where one or more of us would have some glitch or would have forgotten something. Maybe you finally get in the groove just on the very last day, which would be irony, for sure.
The route started off nicely with a long bicycle path. If it was one thing I did not expect to find in a small city like Statesboro, it was a long bicycle path.
Bicycle path in Statesboro, GA
Steve had suggested that we stick together as a group through the first rest stop and then we’d all find our own tempo so we rolled as a group of eight or nine. Shortly after the bike path, we hit some pretty dense fog. (You can see it slightly in the photo below.) We really felt like we were riding though soup (I called it a “big bowl of cyclist soup”) and everyone was remarking about how it was soaking them or sticking to them. For example, all the hair on my arms was thick with moisture droplets making it look a bit like white fur.
Alabama Chain Gang early on Day 7
Rest stop 1 on BRAG Day 7
At the first rest stop, we decided to keep rolling as a group since we were making decent progress. (We ended up with about 16 mph average for the entire 65 miles.) Then the shake and bake started, but I didn’t feel it was nearly as bad as the day before.
Shake and bake on BRAG Day 7
More shake and bake on BRAG Day 7
Lawrence pulling the Alabama Chain Gang Train
Rest stop 2 or 3 on BRAG Day 7
As we began to approach Savannah, we started encountering a lot of heavy traffic. We spent a few miles on a very large highway with a lot of fast-moving, very large trucks and we were forced onto the shoulder on the other side of rumble strips… into the debris. I’m sure we’ve all seen worse (The Chef Menteur Highway leading into New Orleans, for example), but you hate riding on the shoulder for fear of flats. And indeed, one of our group, Kristen, suffered a flat. Luckily, Steve Solomon’s superpower seems to be fixing flats. He can have a tire and tube off the rim before I can get my tools out of my bag.
We rode into Savannah proper through the docks and industrial side of the city and it wasn’t the most majestic of entrances. Sadly, one of the BRAG riders, a 61 year old woman, was killed when she was thrown in front of a dump truck within throwing distance of the checkered flags setup as the finish at Emmet Park.
The team settled into the box lunches catered for riders while I biked off to the Crystal Beer Parlor in search of Crab Stew and then picked up a few geocaches to earn my badge for Get Outdoors Day. (BTW. Savannah geocaches are quite hard to find. I only found two out of five caches I searched for; much lower than my usual ratio.)
Enjoying box lunches in Emmet Park in Savannah
Crab Stew (with cornbread and sherry) at Crystal Beer Parlor in Savannah
The rest of the day was a blur for me. I missed getting my bike on the truck and had to arranged for some other people from Huntsville to care for my steed. (I later learned that they opened a second truck. They really could have told me of that prospect rather than just turning me away.) I also ran around like a headless chicken trying to buy some drinks as I was getting a bit dehydrated after only having beer after the ride and I didn’t want to face the four-hour ride to Atlanta with that thirst. I never did get a shower and had to ride all the way home, stewing in my kit. Goat smell to go with my goatee, anyone?
I’ll post some some retrospection later after I’ve had a chance to sit and think a bit. Overall, I consider BRAG a fantastic experience and I’m so glad that Steve organized a group and that I was able to join them. I met a lot of new people, had some great experiences in cities I would never have visited otherwise, and had a chance to spend many hours in the saddle, which is one of the things I love most. If you come to this post by searching for information about BRAG and are considering joining for the first time, go immediately to signup. Don’t think about it; just do it. I hope this ride continues to be strongly attended many years into the future.