It's not a race, it's a touring bike ride through some of the most beautiful country in Tennessee, designed for both serious cyclists and recreational riders and organized by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The front-runners sped through Lewisburg's public square at 10:25 a.m., looking as if they were ready for the Tour de France. They had covered about 52 miles in less than three hours. The last riders passed about three hours later. In between, cyclists came in pairs and small groups.
The ones who stopped to talk were all experienced cyclists, and most had participated in rides like this in several states. A man from Indiana asked directions to the library because he had to get online and update his unemployment claim.
A man who parked his bike and took pictures of the courthouse and the square was from Los Angeles, Calif. He drove all the way from home to the start of the ride, taking in national parks and scenic drives along the way. He's going back by a different route, including meeting a friend for a bike ride on the Katy Trail in Missouri.
The Brat takes a different route every year. This time it started at Montgomery Bell State Park, with an 84-mile ride down to David Crockett State Park, just west of Lawrenceburg, where the cyclists camped for the night. Monday's ride took them 66 miles, passing through Marshall County, to Henry Horton State Park for another camp out and a mix-and-mingle social hosted by the Friends of Henry Horton State Park. Tuesday's ride was 63 miles back to Montgomery Bell, where Wednesday is a rest day. The next three days will take them to Paris Landing State Park, Swan Lake Park in the city of Clarksville, and finally back to Montgomery Bell.
The riders pay a fee to participate, and are well looked after. Their baggage is transported from place to place. The route is marked, and there are patrol vehicles available to help in case of a breakdown, either human or mechanical. Brat organizers have added several exciting entertainment options to this year's schedule of events, including several nights of live music and a wine tasting at Paris Landing State Park. The city of Clarksville will host two special excursions, including trips to the Beachaven Vineyards Winery and to downtown Clarksville's Jammin' in the Alley festival.