Article originally appeared in the Union Recorder by Jessica Luton.
More than 1,000 cyclists are expected to come into Milledgeville Monday as Bike Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) makes it way across the state in its 37th year.
The week-long route runs from Atlanta to Savannah this year with Milledgeville as its second stop.
Cyclists will meet in Atlanta this weekend and ride to Social Circle High School Sunday morning. They will leave Social Circle Monday morning and steadily arrive in Milledgeville between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The riders will camp out on the Georgia Military College campus primarily on the soccer field and in the Cordell Events Center.
BRAG Executive Director Franklin Johnson is expecting between 1,000 and 1,200 participants, which is about double the number from last year. Johnson added that his goal is to get that number to 2,000 cyclists by the year 2020.
"We really want to create an environment where we can get a lot of people who may not consider riding their bicycle long distances out there to meet people and kind of get a great, awesome tour of the state of Georgia," said the second-year director.
This isn’t the first year BRAG has made its way through Milledgeville, however, the last visit was in 2011.
This year riders will set up camp and have the opportunity to check out downtown Milledgeville, the Oconee River Greenway, or even hop on the trolley for a tour of Central State Hospital. The Reception Band will begin playing on the west side of the Old Capitol Building at 6:30 p.m. The concert, organized by the Milledgeville Convention & Visitors Bureau, is free and the local public is also invited to attend.
Jane Sowell, executive director of the Milledgeville CVB, said that this is a great opportunity for the city.
"It will be a boom for our community downtown," she said. "It's not very often you have 1,200 cyclists, a captive audience, right in your downtown. We're hopeful that they will shop and eat in our restaurants and shops. Anytime you have a group like that come to your community and see how wonderful it is, your hope is that they will come back with their families and spend a couple of days to enjoy everything we have to offer here. We're known for our friendliness and southern hospitality, so this a great time to show them."
Showers and massage therapists will be available for the weary riders so they can rest up for the ride to Dublin on Tuesday.
Cyclists can leave for Dublin between 6 and 8 a.m. Tuesday with a Baldwin County Sheriff's Department escorted group beginning at 7:30 a.m..
"Just be aware that we're going to have 1,200 cyclists in our community in a 24-hour period," added Sowell. "I just ask that our drivers be aware of that by being courteous and sharing the road."