Travel: Southern Comfort In Athens, Ga.
Athens, a college town with Georgia charm, is home to a trendy music scene, unique restaurants and a thriving cycling community.
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This article was originally published in the Nov./Dec. 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
— Local triathlete Michael Williams suggests leaving downtown and heading down Prince Avenue to start a ride. “Within 10 minutes you are on rolling country roads with fields of cows and goats on either side of you,” he says. Williams also says Jefferson River Road is a favorite area among triathletes to ride, or out by Watson Creek Bridge to explore many of the dirt roads. If you’re in town from December through February, the Winter Bike League, a competitive 3- 4-hour ride, takes place every Saturday. More info and a list of many of Athens’ staple bike routes can be found at Winterbikeleague.com.
— The Athens YMCA (Athensymca.org) is the go-to pool for most triathletes, and there are three open-water swimming options within 45–60 minutes: Lake Oconee, Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell.
— Run for miles along the river on The North Oconee River Greenway Trail (aka “The Greenway”), or explore the popular network of trails from the University of Georgia Botanical Gardens. If you want to stick to roads and keep your run flat, stay on Milledge Avenue, which cuts through the heart of Athens and the university, or do speed work at the UGA track.
— Start your day with baked goods or fresh bread at Ike and Jane’s Normaltown Café and Bakery (Ikeandjane.com) or go for a proper Southern country breakfast at Mama’s Boy (Eatatmamasboy.com). Meat lovers can get their fill with a basket of Southern barbecue at Butt Hutt (Butthuttbarbecue.com), and vegetarians will love the diverse selection and portion sizes at The Grit (Thegrit.com).
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Sip a microbrew on a comfy sofa or rocking chair at The Globe (Classiccitybrew.com/globe.html) or take a two-hour tour of Terrapin Brewery (Terrapinbeer.com) with tastings and live music.
— Cycling is the second passion of local coffee roaster Jittery Joe’s (Jitteryjoes.com) — not only does the company sponsor a racing team and do coffee deliveries via bicycle, it also roasts a specific blend (called Alternative Fuel) to support BikeAthens, a nonprofit group that advocates for cycling and other forms of alternative transportation. The WoW! Whoop-Ass in a Can blend is a local favorite.
— Check out a concert at the famous music venue 40 Watt Club (40watt.com), which has been a home base for some of Athens’ most famous bands over the last 35 years, including R.E.M. and the B52s.
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