Updated: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 15:18

Beach bike race planned for Tybee Island

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Prepare to add a beach bicycle race to Tybee Island’s portfolio of quirky and unique events.
A group that includes one of the founders of the Beach Bum Parade outlined a vision for a bike race in the sand to be held in November 2013. Speaking at the Tybee Island Tourism Council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, Jack Boylston told the council’s board of directors the event would help drive visitors to the island on what would otherwise be a slow weekend.
“There are beach towns with bike races, but nobody on the East Coast holds an actual bike race on the sand,” Boylston said.
The race course would include the length of the oceanside beach stretching from the North Beach jetty to 18th St. on the south end. The start-finish line and staging area would be at 14th Street in front of the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort.
The race will be competitive, Boylston said, but will also include divisions for beach cruisers and perhaps even pedicabs and quadricycles.
The race remains in the planning stages and further details, including a race date, are not set. Organizers still need permission from the city of Tybee Island and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to stage the event on the beach.
The race would be staged late on a Saturday morning in November. Based on the tide tables – the race would need to be held at low tide – Nov. 2, 16 and 30 are potential dates. The first of those dates conflicts with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah marathon and Nov. 30 falls on Thanksgiving weekend, making Nov. 16 the likely race day.
“We’re keeping the details flexible on purpose,” said Rich Jeffries, who will head race-day operations for the event. “We want to be able to adjust to any requests from a title sponsor and from the city and DNR.”
Jeffries has experience dealing with event management. He’s managed two olympic sailing venues in his career, including the competition staged here during the 1996 Games.
Organizers received an endorsement for the beach bike race from the Tybee Island Tourism Council. Tybee’s standing as a bicycle-friendly community makes hosting the event a natural, council board chairman Amy Gaster said.
“A lot of people love to ride their bikes on the island,” Gaster said. “And this is something that will also attract many off-islanders.”
The race would join the Beach Bum Parade, the New Year’s Polar Bear Plunge, Tybee Pirate Fest, the Mardi Gras celebration and the Critz Tybee Run as unique events staged on the island outside the summer months. The events are seen as ways to drive business during the offseason.

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