Less-humid days are finally here depending on the week. That means better opportunities to get outside and enjoy Savannah’s beauty. One bike ride encourages you to explore the city at your own pace while also raising money for a trail.
The Athens to Savannah Ride is a 235-mile bicycle trek along the proposed Georgia Hi-Lo Trail. This is the 18th year for the ride, but for the first time, there is another option.
"People can sign up to do the Athens to Savannah Ride virtually, and that has different millage so you can choose the full 235 miles or you can do as little as 10 miles," said Mary Charles Howard, executive director of the Georgia Hi-Lo Trail and who took over the race as an organizer this year.
Caila Brown, Executive Director of Bike Walk Savannah, is excited for the virtual ride option.
"Being able to let people go at their own pace opens it up to a whole new group of riders."
The ride traditionally follows roads and already completed bicycle paths. While the original race started as a health challenge, it has since morphed into a way to raise awareness about the importance of safer options for cyclists.
It’s something that’s close to Howard’s heart.
"I was really working on this trail that would connect Athens to Savannah, and I heard that [Ken Sherman, who started the ride] wasn’t going to do the Athens to Savannah ride anymore."
Howard quickly jumped at the opportunity to take it over and marry it with her goal for the trail.
"Now we’ve totally changed the mission of what the ride is. This is the first year that it will be offered under this mission to raise money to build the trail from Athens to Savannah."
Brown is also excited about what the completion of the trail would mean for Savannah.
"[The path] enriches the communities themselves, not just Savannah, although it’s going to be a great access point. But in communities like Union Point, Wrightsville, Swainsboro, these can really serve as the spine to generate other trail connections.
"We see small towns all over Georgia and all over the country taking these trails and making them their own. It’s not just a way for people who want a recreational path or maybe want to get from one city to another, but it’s also a way for kids to get to school, for people to get to the library or grocery store. It really opens up a whole new way of getting around town."
For those choosing the virtual option, you can ride anywhere you want. You pick how far you go.
As an added incentive for the virtual riders, Howard has coordinated videos of the communities connected to the in-person ride.
"We have eight videos in eight of the towns that we go through where it’s sort of this challenge experience as you go. You get to meet people in the town and see the sights. We think that sets our ride apart from all the hundreds and thousands of virtual experiences people have had to switch to this year."
"Once the riders complete 10 miles, they’ll get the video to Winterville which is 10 miles down the road from our start point. Once they go 75 miles, they’ll get the video for Spartanburg."
Brown said she likes that the virtual option has been added this year because allows people who aren’t competitive cyclists, or who maybe just don’t have the time, to still participate.
The cost to participate in the Athens to Savannah Ride varies from $31.50 to $128, but it all goes to making the Georgia Hi-Lo Trail a reality in the future.
"The trail itself is going to be so important, not only for Savannah, but also for the state," said Brown.
"We don’t have a separated path for people to get from the northern corners of the state over here to the coast."
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