Over 500 cyclists took to local roads Saturday, shattering original projections for the first-ever Jackson County Brevet.
Initially expected to draw around 250-300 riders, the brevet (pronounced BRU-VAAY) had 549 participants bike the 100-mile, 65-mile, 35-mile or five-mile loops that stretched through Jackson County’s backroads. One hundred-fifty walk-ups registered the day of the event.
Needless to say, brevet organizer Robert Wilhite deemed the day a success.
“That’s the understatement,” Wilhite said.
The brevet was a non-competitive century ride, which started and ended at Zion Baptist Church in Braselton. Wilhite, the head cycling coach for the Atlanta Triathlon Club, has ridden in over 175 century rides but had never staged one. He was thrilled with the first-year support for the Jackson County Brevet.
“Everything just came together,” said Wilhite, who also owns mycyclecoach.com. “People were blown away that this was a first-year event.”
More importantly, the brevet raised money for aplastic anemia research. Aplastic anemia is a rare bone marrow disorder.
Wilhite organized the event to help create awareness and raise money to fight the disease. His wife, Kelly, has battled aplastic anemia for nearly 25 years but the treatment hasn’t changed.
Though an exact dollar figure is hard to pinpoint, Wilhite estimates that the Jackson County Brevet will potentially raise $20,000 for the Aplastic Anemia Foundation after expenses are paid. That total would far exceed the $5,000 mark that Wilhite set when he started organizing the ride.
“That potential amount just blows my mind,” Wilhite wrote in an email. “(We) certainly had God’s blessing on this event from day one.”