The first day of Spring is here and its time to pull that bike out of the garage/shed/broom closet/whatever. If winter has been keeping you in (like the rest of us) then it’s time to dust off those wheels and get your bike into top shape for the Atlanta Cycling Festival 2019 (May 11th-17th)!!!
As the weather gets warmer you might ask yourself…
Where is my bike? Do I have a bike? Does my bike work? Is my bike the right bike for ACF?
Well we have the answers for you!
I don’t know, it’s your bike. If you don’t you then you should! If you’re not sure, then don’t worry because we can help with that! A resounding yes!
Every bike can be the right bike because what matters is how you want to ride. Your ability, Your Bike, Your Atlanta is part of our big statement for this year. Some people ride as if they are in the Tour De France, some ride at a nice leisurely pace, some love all types of riding. We want to give everyone a space at ACF so that you can fully experience your bike story!
Some rides will be fast, some will be slow, some will be off-road. So, while perhaps your bike might not be the best option on certain rides, your bike is most definitely right for ACF!
Getting That Bike Ready to Ride
First, Got a Bike?
If you don’t have a bike, or are thinking of getting a new one, then this is the time to do it! If you’re unsure of what you want, a local bike shop is a great source of information. They’ll be happy to help you out and let you try out a bike or two.
As for where to go, we highly recommend:
- Outback bikes
- Edison Bicycles
- Aztec Cycles
- Clutch Bicycle Shop
- Loose Nuts Cycles
- Earl's Bike Shop
To be completely transparent here, these are all Sponsors of ACF, but we know you’ll get great service and an amazing bike at any of these spots.
Second, Tune Up!
Wash the Bike - We think that one of the most beautiful things in the world is a sparkling clean bike. Dirt, grime, and gunk have probably built up as you’ve ridden and it’s time to get that stuff off. A few tips:
- Spraying a bike with high water pressure isn’t the best idea, a bucket, sponge, and soap will do the trick just fine.
- A Chain Cleaning Kit such as those from REI make chain cleaning a breeze!
- Dry, Dry, Dry! Dry that bike completely so that it doesn’t rust.
Lubricate the Chain - After that amazing cleaning you just gave the bike, it’s time to lubricate it so that your ride will be nothing but smooth sailing…rolling. If you don’t know which lubricant to use, then talking to your local bike shop should clear it up. Take a gander at this VIDEO to learn how to do it like a pro.
So what’s left? Now that the bike is clean and lubricated be sure to check that these things are in working order:
- Tire pressure – pump if necessary
- Wheel Spokes
- Brake Levers
- Brake Pads
Everything good? Not sure? Way too busy to handle all this right now? No problem we understand. Head on over to your friendly local bike shop have them do a tune up. Once finished, it will be like #newbikeday all over again!
Third, Ride, Ride, Ride!!
Now comes the really fun part! Put on that helmet, charge up those lights, and get out and ride! If you need a few suggestions, then we are happy to oblige with our…
Mini Atlanta Bike Riding Guide!
Atlanta has come a long way over the last few decades in terms of being bikeable. Bike infrastructure such as bike lanes, and bike share programs like Relay have improved accessibility for riders of all types. There is still a lot to do, but awesome organizations like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) are working hard to make the city a better place for biking.
First and foremost, we always advocate for, and require helmets on ACF rides. A good helmet could be the one thing keeping a potentially bad day becoming a much worse day.
Other safety tips we recommend:
- Awareness – Always know what’s going on around you and ride defensively
- Take the Lane when appropriate – This one can seem a bit intimidating, but it is your right and sometimes safer to take the lane when you are unable to stay towards the right side of the road.
- Rules of the Road- Like a car, bikes are considered vehicles of the road and therefore are subject to the same rules.
- Sidewalks vs. Roads – Always ride on the road not the sidewalk. It can be dangerous for you and pedestrians. Also, it is illegal if you are over 12 years old.
These are just a few tips, for more information to pursue at your leisure, check out these great organizations:
We understand if you’re feeling a bit intimidated about riding the streets of Atlanta. Some roads like Dekalb Ave can be scary, that’s why we recommend this amazing Map to help you get to your destination safely.
So With the Safety Stuff Out of the Way, Time to Ride!
The bike is good to go, you’re helmeted up, now where to ride? Well of course at the Atlanta Cycling Festival is the obvious answer, but since is that not until May we thought we'd give you some suggestions to warm up those legs.
- Beltline – This one is evident, it’s a great stretch of paved path with many wonderful watering holes along the way. Just be sure to yield to pedestrians on busy days. Or put some bigger tires on that bike, and head over to the emptier unpaved sections for some off-road Beltlining! Bike type: Any (unless unfinished portions of Beltline then Hybrid/Mountain advisable)
- Proctor Creek Greenway – This 7 mile spur of the beltline is a newer section that will become part of the Emerald Corridor which will lead up to the Chatahoochee River. A pleasantly beautiful ride through the westside of the city. Bike Type: Any
- South River Trail – This shorter stretch of paved path sometimes makes you feel like your out in the wilderness all the while still being within the city. This path eventually will run out to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Rockdale County. Bike Type: Any
- Stone Mountain Loop – A classic that sees riders all week long. From downtown Atlanta and back the entire loop is about 40 miles, a great way to get those legs in shape for the Espresso Ride! Bike Type: Any
Road and Off-road
Feeling a bit more adventurous? Well whether you’re looking for more road riding, mountain biking, or gravel riding, here are a few suggestions:
- Silk Sheets – While not actually in Atlanta, this terrific road ride is very close. With rolling hills and multiple distances to choose from, this route takes you through the beautiful area around Serenbe. Though the route is on active roads, drivers are accustomed to cyclists. Check out the TeamEndured website for information on the different routes. Bike Type – Road Bike
- Southside Park – Built by the amazing people at MTB Atlanta, Southside park is the only purpose built Mountain Biking trail inside the perimeter. When finished it will have three loops ranging from Beginner to Advanced. Take a look here to see what parts are ready to ride! Bike Type – Mountain
- Dirty Sheets – Another route outside of the city, that sees frequent Atlanta residents. This 20 mile gravel route is a blast to ride and takes you through some of the amazing backcountry of South Fulton. Bike Type – Gravel/Cross/Mountain
- The Roads of the City – Atlanta is an amazing city, with so much to offer and in our humble opinion, the best way to experience it all is by bike. Hop in the saddle and blaze your own trail through Downtown, Midtown, Edgewood, Westside, Mechanicsville and more! Bike Type – Whatchya Brung
Riding Groups and Events
There are a ton of great riding groups and clubs in Atlanta. So many that there’s far too many to list here, so if you’re interested in finding different groups to ride with then check out sadlebred The site is a great resource for seeking out rides. You’ll find them all welcoming and accepting of all people and riders, but it is good to read the descriptions and know your current ability before jumping on them.
Here are a few rides and groups that we highly recommend:
- TourDeLanta – An active group of Mountain, Hybrid, and off-road bicyclers who ride various urban single-track loops around Atlanta during the week and different Mt. Bike trails all over Georgia on the weekends. If you’re interested in getting into mountain biking but haven’t taken that leap yet, then their weekday ride (Thursdays 6:30) is a great way to start!
- Toecutters – Like backpacking? Like biking? Well why not Bikepacking? The Toecutters crew are all tough as nails and the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. When not braving inclement weather to roll out into the wilderness, they have two featured rides in the city. The perfect early morning road ride #MashtoBRASH (Wednesdays at 6:00 am) and the best way to close out the weekend, #SundaytoMonday (Bi Monthly, Sunday, 10:30 am).
- Velo City – This is not only a great new ride/event in the city, it’s also for a great cause! Velo City benefits Grady hospital, helping them to continue the amazing work being done over there. Featuring multiple distances, you can find your own pace in this annual ride. The event takes place May 4th, so don’t waste any time and register soon!
- Gear Act – This group is all about getting people active, on the streets of Atlanta, and having a great time doing it. They feature a late night no drop ride that is fantastic, an annual Silver Comet Ride to Alabama, and more!
- The Mobile Social – A terrific ride for those who want to an easy social ride where you’re not struggling to talk between heavy breaths. Occurring on the Second Thursday of each month, this ride changes routes each time to show off different neighborhoods in Atlanta and the best part is, at the end there’s Beer!
That's a great list to get you started, and if it feels like a lot to take in right now, don't worry because a lot of these rides and groups such as Tour De Lanta and Gearact will be featured in this year's Festival.
Get out on two wheels and see you in May!!
Join nearly 2,000 of Atlanta’s Community Leaders and Bicycle Advocates! Feel the electricity at the starting line in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the remarkable support throughout your journey as we unite in our mission to help Grady!
Don’t miss your opportunity to cruise the streets of downtown Atlanta and beyond while giving back to one of our city’s most essential institutions — Grady Hospital. This fully supported annual ride and celebration takes place on Saturday, May 4, 2019, and is a unique opportunity to participate in a cycling event. VeloCity brings cyclists, donors, volunteers, and spectators together to celebrate health and wellness while supporting and bringing awareness to one of Atlanta’s most vital assets. Check out their Facebook Page for more information! See you at the Benz!