06 Dec Ride Report: Bike Camping Atlanta to Chattahoochee Bend State Park
A guest post on bike camping from Laura Colbert from Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA.
My friend, Sean, annually organizes a 3-day, 200-mile round trip bike camping trip on the Silver Comet Trail over Labor Day weekend. Last year, Chris and I joined Sean and co. for the trip (my first bike camping trip!) and had a great time (despite having to shorten the trip due to rainy weather). We weren’t able to make this year’s trip, but Chris and Sean had been talking a big game about making bike camping a more-than-once-a-year adventure, so this was a great catalyst to plan another trip for this fall. Sean took on the job as Ride Master and scouted out a new, shorter route that we could do over a regular, two-day weekend. Our start location was Loose Nuts Cycles and our final destination was Chattahoochee Bend State Park (Georgia’s newest state park—who know that state parks were still being created?). A date was set and interested riders were contacted.
Chris decided to take Surly’s Big Dummy and I rode my Civia Linden. The Big Dummy (which can be borrowed at Loose Nuts at any time) was great because it allowed us to be a little lazy while packing. The Civia was an obvious choice because I’d ridden it for our first bike camping trip with no complaints. Plus it’s the bike I spend the most time on. Between the two bikes, we carried a tent, sleeping pads, a sheet, wool blanket, and sleeping bag, clothes, camp cooking supplies, and snacks (probably more stuff than we needed but we had the room).
We met at the shop at 9:30 am on Saturday and after a bit of re-packing, bath rooming, and chatting, our group of 7 rolled out. We travelled southwest out of town, through the West End and Oakland City. On a narrow downhill, only about 5 miles from our start, I got a flat tire, thanks to a large piece of glass and a rude, black truck that didn’t feel like he needed to share the road with cyclists. Luckily, Chris was on hand with his much-practiced tire changing skills, so the delay wasn’t long. We continued southwest past Fort McPherson and through some quiet neighborhoods. After an hour or so of riding, I felt like we had finally left the city. We continued the rest of the day on county roads that became increasingly slower, quieter, more shaded, and beautiful. Along the way, we found some great places to stop, snack, and rest, including Smith Grocery in Rico; Roscoe, Georgia’s only gas station, and a quiet intersection with this beautiful Southern house.
The ride was pretty uneventful, although the hills and wind kept us occupied. The pace was casual, so it took us most of the day to ride the 53 miles to Chattahoochee Bend State Park. The best part was the last 2 miles, which were gravel roads.
The state park is so new that all the buildings still look fresh and raw. The trees around buildings and pavement are still young and small. It was kind of a funny look for a state park. We camped in the walk-in campsites, which were fine, but a little crowded and not as secluded as we would have liked. Still, with some good food, great campfire chat, stargazing, and a little bit of whiskey, we had a good time. (Next time, I’m going to plan ahead and bring s’mores ingredients.)
The next morning was chilly, so it took us awhile to get moving. We did finally get warmed up and back on our bikes thanks to a three-course breakfast of bacon, pancakes, and eggs. We browsed around the state park a little bit and found some way better camp sites—secluded and right on the river. Sigh…next time….
Our pace back was pretty casual as well and the ride was much the same as the day before (including another flat tire—this time for Chris). We did stop for some pictures of GINORMOUS houses, a naked lady statue in an undeveloped housing development, and to poke around an abandoned school building.
We got back to Atlanta late that afternoon and celebrated with a much-deserved beer and Young Augustine’s eats. I think that my favorite part of the weekend is that we rode from our front door (in the middle of Atlanta) to a great Georgia state park well outside the city. I always feel like I have to get in my car to get out of Atlanta and this trip proved me wrong. Two days on bikes, camping with some great Atlantans, and beautiful Georgia fall weather and scenery—overall a pretty awesome weekend.
*Update: Here’s the link to our return route–http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/136272533