I found myself out of town again, in dire need of some cardio to carry me through the holidays. Fortunately this time I was traveling to Atlanta, a major metropolis with a vibrant cycling community. After doing some research, I found a bike shop (a very cool one, I might add) that puts on local bike rides. I joined for their ride on the morning of Christmas eve.
They had two rides planned. The long ride was ‘beyond Six Flags,’ which is a 50+ mile out-and-back ride to Campbellton that, as you would guess, skirts by the Six Flags amusement park. From what I understood from talking with other riders, this is usually a well-attended faster-paced ride. In good weather, they said the ride could have as many as 50 riders. That would not be the case on a frosty Christmas eve. The alternate ride is a 22-mile jaunt around the hilly neighborhoods of Atlanta. Both groups ride together for the early going and then they split after a few miles.
Needing a good workout, my preference was for the Six Flags ride. The turnout was the problem. I followed along and noticed that hardly anyone turned to Six Flags at the split. The shorter in-town ride it would be, but I found that what it lacked in miles, it made up for in challenge.
Atlanta has hills, lots of them. The entire ride was up and down, which was perfect for me. There were a few lengthy climbs and some short and steep rollers, the steepest of which was around 12%. On top of the that, the route took you through a lot of nice neighborhoods with million-dollar houses, around a number of friendly parks, and had some delightful declines along with the grueling climbs. Simply put, the ride was a blast.
I have to commend the community on the way they orchestrated the ride. There were two ride leaders and at crucial intersections, they would block traffic on both sides. This was unusual, but made me feel a lot more comfortable than I would otherwise be riding through foreign neighborhoods in another city. The group separated here and there, which is to be expected, but waited at major intersections and after big climbs. This allowed us to mostly ride as a group.
As I could tell from my Strava output that this route is usually the Wednesday night sprint route. Now that sounds like a blast.