Think you could endure a 395-mile trek across the Peach State? How about when you’re eligible to cash social security checks?
Six Thomasville residents over the age of 70 – Dr. Jim Story, George Washington, Vicki Reagan, Jerry Reagan, Dr. Bill Lardin and Bill Ponder – medaled in the 35th annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, a six-day journey that began on June 8 in Washington then meandered through Thompson, Waynesboro, Metter, Jesup before ending in Jesup.
“Needless to say, we were all pretty tired when we got back to Thomasville,” Story said with a chuckle.
Story has participated in the annual voyage since 1994 through encouragement from Lardin, a former colleague.
“The first stop was in Thomasville, so I couldn’t really give him an excuse [not to],” Story said.
Story’s wife, Carolyn, had also bought him a bike for his birthday four months prior, which added to the initiative.
Yet Story’s first BRAG trip, he said, was the most taxing of the 20 he’s completed since. Riders battled the massive floods that rolled through South Georgia at the time.
Rain hasn’t been much of a problem since – BRAG saw no precipitation this year – but riders push through despite weather conditions each year.
“When you’re out there riding 60 to 70 miles at a time, you can’t really stop,” Story said. “You’ve got to weather the storm.”
Most of the overnight stops are settled at local high schools and colleges, which utilize the opportunity to raise funds for various programs, mostly athletics.
At any given stop, roughly 300-400 people can be found cramped on a cafeteria or gym floor.
“That might seem pretty crowded, but when you get in there, you’re so tired that you usually don’t care,” Story said.
This year’s BRAG drew roughly 650 total participants from 23 states and Trinidad.