You don't have to be an expert biker to join the Conyers Covington Cycling Club. The club, known as C4, is open to all levels of ability, said C4 President Maurice Carter of Covington.
"It's a very diverse group," said Carter. "There are people who race, people who do it for exercise, some for transportation, some for socializing."
The club began in 2004 with a handful of people meeting at the Georgia International Horse Park, and today the membership boasts 380. Twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at
6 p.m., as many as 40 people bring their bikes and gather at the Horse Park to embark on various excursions. Some ride 10 mph, others 25 mph. Some are teens, some are senior citizens. Some are novices, some are experts.
Carter explained that the group typically breaks up into smaller teams based on skill - the A team, B team, C team and there's even a group of riders who call themselves the F troop. The A and B teams travels 32 miles, the C group covers 26 miles and the F troop cycles between 12 and 20.
"Ours tends to be a kinder, gentler cycling club. First and foremost, we're interested in making sure that people have a good time," said Carter.
Carter said the rides departing from the Horse Park try to avoid busy roads. His group takes a route flowing up into Oxford, then into Jersey, crossing Lake Varner and returning to the Horse Park.
"We're close to civilization but ... we've got so many scenic rural enjoyable roads, that people really do come back for that reason," Carter said. "It's a nice road and enough nice people to make it worthwhile."
For those who don't have time for the routine of week nights, there's also weekend rides through Olde Town Covington and through Covington. The Olde Town ride departs from the Depot every fourth Sunday at 4 p.m. The Covington ride is the first Sunday of each month and leaves the Square at 3 p.m.
"It's really great because what we're seeing is kids and families. The route is 5 miles and it's relaxing," said Carter.
Two years ago Covington resident Kindle Lord came across C4 on the Internet in a search for a cycling group close by for her husband to join. He joined and then so did she. A member of the group volunteered to ride at a slower pace with Lord in the beginning, which formed the impetus for C4 breaking down into various speed levels.
"The physical fitness is huge," said Lord, 29, of her reasons for biking. "Being able to connect with people, the social aspect is another huge thing for me and this group in particular is really nice."
Lord said it also allows her and her husband to join in an activity together but have individual experiences. They both leave at the same time, but travel at different speeds. At the end, they meet up again and can talk about their rides.
Lord is a member of two other cycling clubs and said that C4 is known in the cycling club circles as being welcoming and friendly to newcomers.
"The one thing that C4 is categorized for is how nice they are. Most of those people want to be activists for cycling and we all have to start somewhere ... for the most part somebody is going to be there to support you," said Lord.
The C4 group draws members locally but also from all over metro Atlanta and even one from out of state.
"They like the country roads. The one thing we benefit from is the beautiful riding out here," said Lord.
To learn more, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CCCycling.