The following article was submitted by long-time BRAGGER, Dana Groebner. Dana began her cycling and BRAG journey in 1991 with her father and continues the tradition to this day with regular participation in Spring TuneUp and Big BRAG rides. If you’d like to submit your story, upload photos, a Word Doc or PDF at brag.org/retro-brag/.
BRAG- it’s our family thing
The pictures you see here are just a tiny fraction of the multiple photographs my dad, Richard Hunt, and I have taken together on our adventures with the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia organization. We have participated in many summer rides and spring tune ups. I remember when the Spring TuneUp ride was in a different location each year! I do love Sunflower Farms though.
Why We Started BRAG’N
It all started back in either late 1990 or very early 1991. At that time one of the sponsors for BRAG was Georgia Public Television. I guess I was a bored teenager scrolling through the 8-10 channels we had on one of our TVs. There was a program about a large group of people that had ridden their bikes across the state of Georgia (probably an Atlanta to Savannah ride). It instantly grabbed my attention – I may or may not have had a slight interest in cycling at that time because of a boy I knew. As I was watching this program, I called my dad to the room and said, “this looks like fun!” That’s really all the conversation I remember from that day. The next thing I knew, my dad had purchased a couple of mountain bikes so we could start our training. I have two older brothers (yes, I am the baby and the only girl-tough place to be in life lol). When my dad talks about the day I saw the BRAG documentary and said it looked fun, he says he always knew what to do with his sons (hiking and backpacking mostly) so he jumped at the chance to have an adventure with his daughter. Anyway, we didn’t know what kind of bikes to get and figured a mountain bike can go anywhere so let’s get those.
In It for the Challenge!
We read that BRAG recommended you should be able to complete a 50 mile ride at least once to be ready for the big ride across the state. Our training started with 3 miles every few days through the neighborhood and we slowly worked our way up to the 50 miles. We got our gear packed, weighed our bags, bought our meal tickets and I learned to set up my tent. We completed our first BRAG in 1991. It started at what is now known as Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA and ended in Savannah. We rode 6 consecutive BRAGS. Just so you know how tough we were, there was not a layover day at that time or shower trucks. In 1996, the year the Olympics were in Georgia, there were 3,000 riders!! Rest stop lines and porta-potty lines were long, I think there was a banana shortage on the ride that year, but the smiles were big and the vibe was high energy. I could probably write a novel about the early days we rode BRAG and go on about the showers under water hoses, playing in city water fountains, being welcomed to towns like we were heroes, taking cover in people’s garages when it stormed, portable pay-phones and having no idea what was going on in the world except that we were on bikes with each other and some pretty great friends.
What I Learned
Oh- I rode in Keds tennis shoes because … well it’s just what I did. Like I said, I was a teenager when this started and looking back I realize it wasn’t just a good time, but I learned a lot and gained some pretty cool skills that are still with me today. Mostly, I learned that hanging out with my dad is actually a pretty fun thing to do! Other things I learned- Just keep pedaling, it’s okay to keep going even when it is hard and sometimes hurts, being sweaty all the time isn’t that bad, my dad can really “cut a rug” to beach music, be flexible and learn to enjoy life without all the comforts of home, I can pack a lot of stuff into a duffle bag, balancing said duffle bag on my bike while walking around looking for the perfect campsite isn’t always fun but it’s worth it, never ever set your tent up under a street light, the most beautiful views come after the hardest climbs, and most of all I have a great understanding of the phrase “life is about the journey”. My dad went on to do several BRAG summer rides without me, but I returned in 2010. We completed about 9 more BRAGS together and now with my brother (Rick Hunt) and his two kids (Cole and Catey). If you have been on a recent BRAG, I sure hope you have had the chance to see us in action- team FLEEK, inventors and advertisers of the FLEEK burger (PBJ and pickle sandwiches).
Continuing the BRAG Tradition
BRAG has become a family vacation for us and I think of it as my grown up summer camp. The overnight stops, concerts, food, and camping are always a great time, but for me and my family it really is about the experiences we have between destinations. Between the destinations is where the sights are, so many laughs are had, and strength is built physically and with family and friends. I am excited to say that this year I am embarking on my something-teenth Big BRAG. After completing 25 BRAGs, several Three Gap mountain rides and self supported rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Florida Keys my dad has retired from cycling, but if it wasn’t for his follow through on my sporadic interest, all those life lessons, laughs, and journeys may not have ever happened. Hope to see you all at BRAG 2023!
Dana (Hunt) Groebner