Back on the Bike: a Debrief of BRAG 2017

Posted by Bill Harris on Jun 30th 2017

Back on the Bike: a Debrief of BRAG 2017

Bicycle Ride Across Georgia has become an important part of Cafe Campesino's identity over the years.  We've served coffee in the mornings, cycled the routes and even developed a special blend, BRAG Brew, in honor of the annual ride.  

This year, company founder Bill Harris returned to the ride as a cyclist and "the coffee guy."  Bill shares his impressions of BRAG 2017, which started in from Athens on June 3 and ended in Brunswick on June 10.

Why was it important for you to do BRAG this year?
Cafe Campesino coffee has fueled BRAG riders for over 15 years - I have participated in many of those rides and wanted to dust-off the bike after a two-year hiatus, see old friends and help David and Justin Minich of Fair Shot Coffee serve some of our hearty BRAG Brew coffee.

Why does Cafe Campesino participate in some form or fashion every year?
We first partnered with BRAG in 1999, I believe, and we love the friendships and customers that this relationship has created.

How did this year's BRAG compare to years’ past?
This year’s ride was a great combination of older season BRAG riders - many of whom ride often and rarely miss a BRAG - and new first-time younger riders from all over the country. The BRAG staff is doing of great job of promoting the ride to new groups and creating a lot of fun evening events.

What were a couple of your most memorable moments from this year?
Starting off the last day riding with the Metro Atlanta Cycling Club's One Love Team and chatting with member "Youtube" about the history of the cycling club. This club has ridden in BRAG since its inception in 1980, and team members come in from all over the country to participate. The MACC started the Dream Team, which Cafe Campesino has sponsored for many years.

When you travel, an event often happens that reminds you “we live in a small world.” What are some of your “small world” stories from this ride?

Small-world Story One
As I was walking towards the gym to stake out a sleeping spot, a man ran up to me and said, “I remember you! You’re ‘the coffee guy’ from Americus that gave us a tour of the roastery on the 2007 BRAG. That was the best rest stop of the ride!" (I think the music provided by Patrick Owen and Matt Williams or the beer donated by friends may have contributed to his opinion of our rest stop that year).

Small-world Story Two
While waiting patiently at the over-crowded bar in Jesup for a refreshment, I noticed that on either side of me were riders wearing our "all-you-can-drink" coffee bracelets. I spoke to them, and Margaret, to my right, asked me if I knew Geoffrey Hennies, our long-time volunteer coffee server. Within minutes we were using What's App to chat with Geoffrey who now lives in Guatemala. Margaret and Geoffrey have been friends since they met in the coffee booth in Americus in 1999.

Small-world Story Three
I desperately needed to find someone to shuttle my car from Jesup to Brunswick so I could ride my bike on the last leg of the journey. I asked a group of BRAG volunteers if any of them could do it - one of them, Sam, said “I can't but follow me, and I will take you to someone who might be able to help.” As we walked through the campground, Sam asked where I lived, and I told him Americus and that I work with Cafe Campesino. Sam started laughing and I learned that he volunteered for a while with Koinonia in Americus and visited our coffee shop a number of times!

Koinonia is an intentional Christian community based in Americus that helped inspire the creation of Habitat for Humanity and ultimately Cafe Campesino.  BRAG is a week-long bike ride held across Georgia towns every summer, and the some 1,000 riders who participate spend-the-night in gymnasiums of local schools along the ride. Our coffee, BRAG Brew, is available for sale online, as well as in metro-Atlanta Kroger stores in the Georgia Food Products section.