Cruisin’ History

 

Cruisin’ History


The Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce is centered in Claxton, Evans County, Georgia,  the “Fruitcake Capital of the World”.  It is home to The Claxton Bakery, Inc., home of Claxton Fruitcake and  the Georgia Fruitcake Company, home of Georgia Fruitcake.  It is also home to Claxton Poultry Farms, one of the largest providers of chicken throughout the South, serving customers such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s and others.  

In 1995, the Chamber of Commerce decided to promote its unique area and raise funds for its effort to promote the area by creating a new recreational opportunity.  After discussion among its membership, it was noted that the cycling pastime was fast becoming popular.  So, the Chamber decided to conduct an organized bike ride for cyclists.  That first event, the “Yuletide Ride”, was held in conjunction with the Chamber’s Annual Christmas on the Courthouse Lawn and drew 31 participants.  But even in the smallest of numbers, the ride was a big success and the organizers knew they wanted to make it grow.  

In 1996, the event was moved to November under the name “Cruisin’ in the Country”.  The ride was expanded to include a 65-mile route.  The growth was 4 times larger than the initial ride!  In 1997, a standard century was added to the event and the name changed to “Cruisin’ in the Country Century”.  By 1998, “Cruisin’ “ had grown so large (429 participants) that the Chamber knew it had to change its start/finish location.

Ride headquarters was moved to the 40 acre Evans County Recreation Department with it’s large, open areas, playgrounds, camping sites, easy access to county roads, and large buildings to house registration.  By 2000, the ride had grown to over 700 cyclists and the Chamber decided to make it a weekend affair for the cyclists who were traveling long distances.  Over 1000 cyclists appeared in 2002 to chase the “Cruisin’” cap, and enjoy a weekend under the stars around the campsite fire!

In 2004, the founder of the ride, Georgia football great, Royce Smith, died in January.  The Chamber had assumed full direction of the ride by that time, but Royce will always be remembered as having put his heart and soul into building “Cruisin’ in the Country”.

In 2010, a search began for another organization to take responsibility for the Cruisin’ Ride.  Inasmuch as the search did not locate a new sponsor in a timely manner and considering the major road construction project involving Highway 280 through downtown Claxton, the ride was cancelled for the year 2010 with optimism that it would continue in 2011.  

The Chamber retained its sponsorship of Cruisin’ in 2011, with a renewed commitment to provide the best cyclist-friendly ride of the year.  

The Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce takes great pride in extending the tradition of true Southern hospitality to our cycling friends.  Come ride with us every second Saturday in November!  

 

 

The Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce is centered in Claxton, Evans County, Georgia,  the “Fruitcake Capital of the World”.  It is home to The Claxton Bakery, Inc., home of Claxton Fruitcake and  the Georgia Fruitcake Company, home of Georgia Fruitcake.  It is also home to Claxton Poultry Farms, one of the largest providers of chicken throughout the South, serving customers such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s and others. 

 

In 1995, the Chamber of Commerce decided to promote its unique area and raise funds for its effort to promote the area by creating a new recreational opportunity.  After discussion among its membership, it was noted that the cycling pastime was fast becoming popular.  So, the Chamber decided to conduct an organized bike ride for cyclists.  That first event, the “Yuletide Ride”, was held in conjunction with the Chamber’s Annual Christmas on the Courthouse Lawn and drew 31 participants.  But even in the smallest of numbers, the ride was a big success and the organizers knew they wanted to make it grow. 

 

In 1996, the event was moved to November under the name “Cruisin’ in the Country”.  The ride was expanded to include a 65-mile route.  The growth was 4 times larger than the initial ride!  In 1997, a standard century was added to the event and the name changed to “Cruisin’ in the Country Century”.  By 1998, “Cruisin’ “ had grown so large (429 participants) that the Chamber knew it had to change its start/finish location.

 

Ride headquarters was moved to the 40 acre Evans County Recreation Department with it’s large, open areas, playgrounds, camping sites, easy access to county roads, and large buildings to house registration.  By 2000, the ride had grown to over 700 cyclists and the Chamber decided to make it a weekend affair for the cyclists who were traveling long distances.  Over 1000 cyclists appeared in 2002 to chase the “Cruisin’” cap, and enjoy a weekend under the stars around the campsite fire!

 

In 2004, the founder of the ride, Georgia football great, Royce Smith, died in January.  The Chamber had assumed full direction of the ride by that time, but Royce will always be remembered as having put his heart and soul into building “Cruisin’ in the Country”.

 

In 2010, a search began for another organization to take responsibility for the Cruisin’ Ride.  Inasmuch as the search did not locate a new sponsor in a timely manner and considering the major road construction project involving Highway 280 through downtown Claxton, the ride was cancelled for the year 2010 with optimism that it would continue in 2011. 

 

The Chamber retained its sponsorship of Cruisin’ in 2011, with a renewed commitment to provide the best cyclist-friendly ride of the year. 

 

The Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce takes great pride in extending the tradition of true Southern hospitality to our cycling friends.  Come ride with us every second Saturday in November!  


 

              Year                # of Cyclists

    1995                    31

1996                    129

1997                    229

1998                    429

1999                    529

2000                    727

2001                    870

  2002                    1113

2003                    970

2004                    801

2005                    780

2006                    631

2007                    700

2008                    606

2009                    713

                2010                    No Event Held

2011                    298

2012                    300

2013                    299