On the Road

by Wayne Whitesides

I’m finally in the passenger seat, 4,247 miles into an epic Montana road trip, with nearly a third of the drive still ahead of me. It’s the conclusion of a family vacation born of a dad’s wish for one last father-daughter adventure before she heads off to the University of Georgia this fall.

These hours in the car have given me plenty of time to reflect on cycling, Spin the District, and this blog.

The Spin the District event series was created to highlight the greatness of the ATL Airport District through the lens of a cyclist. To be successful, we need to give every cyclist and cycling fan—from the seasoned to the newly initiated—a truly fantastic Spin experience. We can do a lot on the day, like providing flawless organization, great support, and an excellent neighborhood party, but for everyone to get the most out of the event, we also need to do a little preparation in advance: for cyclists, we can help keep you focused on training, discipline, and what to expect; for spectators, we need to provide a rudimentary education in the art of cycling and the rules of engagement. For new and aspiring riders, we can do a little of both.

So let’s not dilly-dally. Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er. 

Start at the beginning: get out and ride!

I love riding my bike, any bike; road, gravel, track, mountain, it doesn’t matter. I even have a bike just for beer runs, complete with a front rack to handily hold a case of my favorite frosty beverages from Beer Girl or Arches Brewing. Each outing is an adventure, and I love riding one mile just as much as I love riding hundreds.

I want you to experience that feeling, too. If you’re not sure how to make cycling part of your life or get back into it, your first step is to choose your bike (or dust off the one way back in the corner) and decide where to go. 

A young woman in a Union City Fondo jersey looks out over the expansive Montana landscape.

Set your sights

Everyone needs goals. Without them, it’s hard to stay motivated, and excuses are more likely to take over.

The trip that I’m currently on has provided my family with months of motivation. We’d already ridden across Iowa a couple of times, and my daughter rode her first century (100-mile ride) on the back of our tandem when she was 11. So I knew we needed something big to motivate us both.

It started in the middle of last winter with a question. “Would you like to do one last epic thing with your old man before he loses control of your life?”

“Dad, that’ll never happen! I’ll always have time for you,” she replied, as I heard Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” over and over in my head.

Choked up, tears in my eyes, the research began. With COVID still devastating the country and all 2020 events canceled, we knew we’d need some backup options, and that choosing a super popular event might not be a great idea. That took a few bucket-list events like Vermont Overland or the Belgian Waffle Race in San Diego out of the running. After scouring the interwebs, we decided on the Gold Rush 110-mile gravel race in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the long months of training began.

Long story short, she crushed it, and more importantly, she’s still talking to me!

So choose your adventure—any adventure. Think about what excites you. For us, it was riding in a part of the country we’ve never been to, with enough mileage and elevation gain to make us work for it. But you know you best, and your ideal ride may be completely different.

If you’re new or getting back into cycling, keep your goals simple and attainable but worth the effort, like Spin the District’s 30-mile road ride in October. Or think big, like our 100-mile mixed surface ToughSkin Open.

Of course, while we’d love for you to choose any of our events, the important thing is just to choose something and make it happen. If time and resources are limited, find something local. Whatever it is, put it on your calendar, tell your family, friends and co-workers, and get going. 

If you’re hell bent on going from the couch to a century ride, look for events at least six months out, if not more, to give yourself time to train. But we’d recommend keeping it real with a 10-mile ride first, or heading over to your local mountain bike course and finding the beginner loop. Then find a 30-miler or an intermediate trail and go for that. Keep leveling up until you’re unstoppable.

If you’re already in peak condition, raise your game. Go for a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles). Compete in your first (beginner) criterium race. If you’re lucky enough to have a velodrome in your area, take a beginner class and learn to ride a fixed gear. Or, better yet, plan your own road trip around an awesome event series, perhaps in the ATL Airport District.

This is just the start of a new series on this blog that will cover getting started, getting back into the saddle, training, nutrition, and day-of dos and don’ts. We’ll be back with some training tips next week, but for now, start scouring the web for the experience that gets you going. A great place to start is granfondoguide.com, which happens to be featuring our Union City Road and Gravel Fondo. Or register for a Spin event now and start training for your adventure. 

ATL AIRPORT DISTRICT ANNOUNCES RETURN OF SPIN THE DISTRICT

ATLANTA (April 23, 2021) – ATL Airport District is thrilled to welcome both cyclists and spectators alike to Spin the District – the community’s third annual cycling race series, providing an immersive experience for guests and transforming the area’s streets into a premier cycling destination. Following last year’s cancelation due to COVID-19, Spin the District is returning in full swing this year – offering food, entertainment and festivities for all to enjoy. The cycling events kick off with the Hapeville Crit on Saturday, August 28, followed by the College Park Crit on Sunday, August 29, and the East Point Omni on Saturday, September 18. The high-powered cycling action wraps up on Saturday, October 2, for the Union City Fondo and Gravel Grind, and as a bike-positive event, all Spin the District events will have a complimentary bicycle valet available to everyone arriving on two wheels.

“We’re really excited to bring Spin the District back to life this summer and fall,” said Cookie Smoak, president of ATL Airport District. “Having closed the chapter on a long year, we’re overjoyed to have the opportunity to bring the community together once again and showcase all that ATL Airport District has to offer – as a premier cycling destination and beyond.”

Union City Fondo Denim 60

Hapeville Crit | August 28

Kicking off at 11 a.m., Spin the District launches during USA Crits Speed Week with the Hapeville Crit – a fast-paced, 1.4-kilometer route in the heart of the city. Hapeville’s course will feature the first and fastest cycling adventure for participants – including a seven-corner course and 150-meter straight finish. The day will include racing for all ages and levels, finishing with the crowd favorite kid’s tricycle race and the best pro men and women racers from across the country. Friends, family and cycling enthusiasts can gather for a Saturday Block Party at Jess Lucas Y-Teen Park to commemorate the weekend with frothy drinks, food and festivities throughout the afternoon. Rider registration and details can be seen here.


College Park Crit | August 29

Wrapping up the initial Spin weekend and USA Crits Speed Week, the College Park Crit will last from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a block party scheduled from noon to close. The College Park course will feature a five-corner circuit, tight turns and an uphill finish, all located in the historic streets of downtown College Park. Spectators are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs, tents and sunscreen – and can indulge in local food trucks throughout the afternoon, alongside family-friendly games and kid’s races. Cyclist registration and details can be accessed here.


East Point Omni | September 18

Calling all cycling enthusiasts – East Point’s Omni is the biking event of the season! A party for both riders and spectators, the race is located at Dick Lane Velodrome – the only concrete cycling facility in Georgia – and is an all-out race on bikes going 40+ mph with no brakes, no coasting and only one gear. Guests can enjoy live entertainment from a DJ, food trucks, local craft beer, Velodrome concessions, games and

beyond – all while enjoying a view of cyclists and the city’s historic Sumner Park. Admission for the public is free of cost, and cyclists can find registration details here.


Union City Fondo | October 2

Spin the District comes to a close with its highly anticipated finale – the Union City Fondo and Gravel Grind. Known as one of the best values in the country, the gran fondo is a high-energy finish to Spin the District, offering a variety of mile options and range of routes through South Fulton, Coweta and Carroll Counties. Cyclists can choose between 30-, 60- and 100-mile gravel and road routes, with a range of classic routes like the Polyester100, Rayon60 and Velour30. This year’s course includes an option to partake in challenging gravel rides, including the ToughSkin Open, a hard-wearing gravel blend, and the Denim60, made for a resilient, smoother ride. Guests can celebrate the conclusion of Spin the District with music, drinks and bites in Union City following the races. More information on rider registration can be seen here.


More details are forthcoming. For more information on ATL Airport District and Spin the District, click here.

About ATL Airport District:

ATL Airport District is the official convention & visitors bureau for the cities of College ParkEast PointHapeville and Union City, Ga. ATL Airport District CVB’s mission is to generate economic development for the cities mentioned above by effectively presenting the community as a preferred tourism, convention and meeting destination. For more information, please visit https://www.atldistrict.com.