Cycling is a popular form of exercise and transportation in the U.S. South. With its mild climate and scenic views, the region offers a range of cycling opportunities for both recreational and serious riders. From rural roads to urban trails, there are many options for exploring the South on two wheels.
Perfect Cycling Weather
One of the best aspects of bicycling in the South is the weather. Unlike some parts of the country, the South experiences relatively mild winters, which means cyclists can ride year-round. Summers can be hot and humid, but early morning and evening rides can provide relief from the heat. Fall and spring are ideal times to cycle, with cool temperatures and stunning foliage.
Variety of Terrain in the South
The South also offers a variety of terrain for cyclists. Rural areas provide quiet roads with rolling hills and flat stretches, while urban areas have dedicated bike lanes and trails. In cities such as Atlanta, Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana, cyclists can ride through historic neighborhoods and explore cultural landmarks.
In addition to the physical benefits of bicycling, the activity provides a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the South. From the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to the Gulf Coast in Florida, cyclists can witness a range of landscapes and ecosystems. Many cycling routes follow scenic byways and state parks, providing an up-close view of the region’s flora and fauna.
Cycling Destinations on the South
A popular destination for cyclists in the South is the Natchez Trace Parkway. The 444-mile route runs from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, and offers stunning views of the region’s natural beauty. The parkway features a paved bike path that is open year-round, making it a popular destination for recreational and serious cyclists.
For those looking for a more urban experience, Atlanta’s BeltLine offers a unique cycling experience through the heart of the city. The BeltLine is a 22-mile loop of trails and parks that encircles the city’s urban core. The route offers access to many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods, including the historic Old Fourth Ward and trendy Inman Park. The BeltLine also features public art installations and hosts events throughout the year, making it a vibrant destination for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
Another popular urban cycling destination in the South is New Orleans. The city’s flat terrain and historic neighborhoods make it an ideal place to explore on two wheels. The Lafitte Greenway is a 2.6-mile trail that connects Mid-City to the French Quarter, offering a safe and scenic route through the heart of the city. The trail also features public art installations and serves as a community gathering place for locals and visitors.
Great Cycling Events in the South
One organization that promotes great cycling in the South is the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG). BRAG hosts several cycling events each year that feature quiet roads in the countryside, amazing mountain-top vistas, and the beautiful Golden Isles of South Georgia.
Big BRAG occurs the first full week in June, changes routes each year, and typically takes cyclists from one side of Georgia to another. Along the way, participants camp (or hotel) in the most charming Southern towns, indulge in tasty Southern fare, and enjoy the hospitality of folks along the way!
BRAG’s Spring TuneUp each April takes place on a bucolic farm just outside of Atlanta. Cyclists and their families campout at the farm for three nights, ride idyllic country roads (short, medium & long distance routes available each day), and enjoy food trucks and live entertainment after their ride.
BRAG Winter Ride highlights Georgia’s Golden Isles during a relaxing February retreat. Cyclists meet the wild horses of Cumberland Island National Seashore, explore Jekyll Island and the Driftwood Beach, and tour various islands via ferry. New for 2024, Winter Ride Lux features the culinary delights and luxury of Florida’s Amelia Island, all by bike!
Some Challenges to Cycling in the South
Despite the many benefits of cycling in the South, there are also challenges. In many rural areas, drivers may not be accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists, and infrastructure may not be in place to accommodate bike traffic.
In urban areas, cyclists may face challenges with traffic and parking. However, many cities and states are working to improve cycling infrastructure and promote safe cycling practices.
One example of this is Propel ATL in Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that advocates for safe cycling & pedestrian infrastructure and education in the city. The organization has worked with city officials to develop a comprehensive bicycle plan and improve bike lanes and trails throughout the city. They also offer a range of educational programs and events to promote safe cycling practices.
In conclusion, cycling in the South offers a unique way to experience the region’s natural beauty, explore its diverse landscapes, and stay active. Whether on quiet rural roads or busy urban trails, cyclists can find a range of options for exploring the region on two wheels. While there may be challenges, many organizations and individuals are working to improve cycling infrastructure and promote safe cycling practices. With its mild climate and stunning scenery, the South is a top destination for cyclists looking for a memorable and rewarding cycling experience.