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My love affair with biking began in Athens, GA during undergrad at University of Georgia. In my Junior year, I totaled my car and dusted off dad's 80's Trek road bike and began biking and taking The Bus to classes. Instantly I felt a closer connection to my fellow students and the city's residents and I became happier and healthier. I wish I could go back to freshman year to start biking, walking and taking the bus for transportation.
But even back then, I didn't appreciate the local businesses, walkable downtown, huge trees, art / music scene and very nice people like I do today.
Athens is now my idea of the perfect small city to live in, and I would love to live there if it had a train to Atlanta. We picked Athens as a pilot city for Bikabout because of our emotional connection, its thriving downtown scene, and the vibrant culture.
To launch Bikabout.com, we decided to tour as many pilot cities as we could fit into an extended vacation, and it seemed natural to start with Athens.
Our goals for the tour are to recruit ambassadors to curate their favorite bike routes, meet with local businesses, planners and advocates, photograph the city's culture, and finally to host a BBQ social for the community.
My 4 year old daughter, Annika, accompanied me and we spent three days meeting with people, eating at old haunts and new favorites, and biking all over with our Brompton folding bike with front kid seat.
Here were the highlights:
- Oconee River Greenway - serene bikeway along the river that runs adjacent to downtown
- Heirloom Cafe - farm-to-table restaurant in rehabbed Amoco filling station that offers a 15% discount to those arriving by bike, foot or bus. The owners, Travis and Jessica, were kind enough to recommend their line cook to help me prepare the food for the BBQ social.
- Mama's Boy - off the Greenway in a rehabbed laundromat and specializing in southern style breakfast.
- Creature Comforts Brewery - downtown in the old tire sales building. A gluten sensitivity means I couldn't try the beer myself, but I loved the space, and that their parking lot is host to the weekly farmer's market.
- Ike and Jane - a new bakery on Prince Street with a nice outdoor patio.
- The Grit - an old favorite / veggie restaurant that has survived a long time by being quietly excellent.
- The Hub Bicycle- 5 points bike shop with a very friendly owner, Brian Malloy, who pledged to offer rental bikes and become a member of Bikabout:)
For a complete list of our recommendations, please see our Foursquare list.