I am determined to attempt and complete my first bicycling century this year. That’s 100 long miles of nothing but my fat frame atop my bike wheel’s inflated to 120 pounds per square inch … and many, many hours of asphalt.
I’ve made an attempt before, but was only able to finish 86 miles from Atlanta to Athens before sorely admitting defeat. I literally hobbled home. Mathematically, the difference between 86 and 100 is a mere 14 miles, or a tortuously slow hour of pain. The prior 5-6 hours, however, can not — nay — will not be forgotten.
And if cycling 100 miles wasn’t enough of a challenge, my wife and I recently welcomed a 10 month old daughter to the family. My training time is limited, so I don’t have the leisure of packing my bike and driving out to my favorite long distance bike-friendly routes around the outskirts of Atlanta:
- the 40 miles out-and-back / 2,500 feet ascent Arabia Mountain: paved trail route in Lithonia, GA starting near Stonecrest Mall, traveling as far South as Panola Mountain and extending eastward to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA (35 minute drive from Brookhaven, GA)
- the 50 mile loop / 1,000 feet ascent Silk Sheets: bike-friendly road route around Chattahoochee Hills, GA near Serenbe, starting in Campbellton, GA, heading as far south as Arnco Mills and eastward to Palmetto, GA (45 minute drive from Brookhaven, GA)
- the 100 mile loop / 4,200 feet ascent Beautiful Backroads (a.k.a the Bud Plant): bike-friendly route starting just north of Cartersville, GA, heading north to Calhoun, GA and making a figure-eight towards Rome, GA and back to Cartersville, GA (70 minute drive from Brookhaven, GA)
- the 115 miles out-and-back / 1,200 feet ascent Silver Comet: paved trail route in Smyrna, GA, starting near Cumberland Mall, traversing the GA/AL border, and ending near Anniston, AL (30 mile drive from Brookhaven, GA)
As you can see, these routes all require at least an hour commute; some require more than two hours of drive-time. I’m a slow cyclist, so I don’t have the luxury of adding such long commutes to an already 3+ hour training ride. So here is my challenge — how can I get my miles in the saddle while keeping my daughter’s father intact?
I have to look elsewhere; I have to look within the mean streets of Atlanta.
A search for bike-friendly roads in Atlanta displays a beautiful green tapestry of squiggly-lined options. The dark green means “trail”, light green means “dedicated bike lane”, and green dashes mean “bike-friendly”. My starting point is the blue dot, which is where I live in Brookhaven, GA. My routes all need to start, and end here. In theory, this looks easy. But when was the last time you noticed miles of bike-friendly let alone dedicated bike lanes while driving around Atlanta? The answer is never.
As I finish my bike-friendly Atlanta routes I plan to capture them here in my blog to share with others. In the meantime, do you have a favorite bike-friendly route in Atlanta? Please share them in the comments.