Moon River Brewing Company will host Matt’s Moon River Cruise on Saturday, June 8 from 2-5 p.m. at the Moon River Beer Garden, 21 W. Bay St. The event is named in memory of Matt Kohler, who was hit from behind by a driver on July 26, 2012, while riding his bike on U.S. Highway 80 in Bloomingdale. The event will feature a recreational ride leaving Ellis Square at 1 p.m., plus live music, prize giveaways, a special beer brewed in Matt’s honor and bicycle valet parking.
The goal of the event is to educate the public on how to safely share the road with cyclists and increase awareness of Georgia’s “3-foot passing law,” which sets the minimum distance motorists must allow when following or overtaking a cyclist.
Remember Matt Kohler
“Matt was a huge participant in life and our community. He was that kid everyone wanted to meet, and I was blessed to get to marry,” said Kori Kohler. “You probably saw him sitting at a bar in Savannah, becoming best friends with a stranger. You may have cheered next to him at a Sand Gnats game, admired his green pants on River Street for St. Pat's, or had lumber cut for you when he worked for Home Depot,” she said. “You may have even known him as the guy at the end of the Rock n' Roll marathon wearing nothing but a bathrobe.”
She hopes the event accomplishes two main goals.
“I wanted everyone to know his story. More importantly, I wanted people to realize that when you neglect the road, for even one minute, you could take away someone's everything,” Kohler said.
Special edition beer at the event
Moon River Brewing Brewmaster John Pinkerton is organizing the event and is brewing a special edition beer to honor Matt.
“When Kori contacted me last summer, just days after Matt's passing, I was terribly sad to hear of her loss,” Pinkerton said. “But, as an avid road cyclist myself, the news struck a deep chord for me as I thought of all of the people I know who still share the roads with vehicles in and around Savannah. Kori felt like it would be especially fitting for us to brew a special beer in Matt's honor, since they enjoyed visiting Moon River together while they were dating.”
Pinkerton said the initial idea to brew a special beer blossomed into a larger event that will “shine a spotlight on Matt’s lasting legacy” and make Savannah and Chatham County safer for cyclists. But there will still be a special beer and he is looking forward to serving it at the event.
“The Moon River brewing team has come up with an exciting new recipe for Matt's Moon Cruise Pale Ale. Debuting at the event on June 8, Matt's memorial brew will be a Belgo-American style Pale Ale, featuring the refreshing fruity/ spicy aroma of our Belgian yeast strain and the citrus/pine/tropical fruit character of our American hop selections.”
The suggested donation for entry to Matt’s Moon River Cruise is $20 and proceeds will benefit the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a local bicycle advocacy and education organization, and Georgia Bikes, which works to improve bicycling conditions and promote bicycling throughout the state of Georgia.
Improving bicycle safety in Georgia
“Georgia Bikes has been successful in recent years in achieving state level policy changes to improve cyclists' safety on Georgia's roads,” said Drew Wade, chairman of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign and a board member of Georgia Bikes. “Still, Chatham County has the highest rate of bike vs. auto injuries and fatalities in the state, and a tragedy like Matt's highlights the need for Georgia Bikes and Savannah Bicycle Campaign to continue to raise awareness about the problem.”
WHAT: Matt’s Moon River Cruise
WHEN: Saturday, June 8, 2-5 p.m. (Bike ride starts at 1 p.m.)
WHERE: Moon River Brewing Company Beer Garden, 21 W. Bay St. (Bike ride leaves from Ellis Square)
WHY: To remember Matt Kohler, encourage everyone to share the road and raise funds for motorist and cyclist education