The 8th annual Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride, an on-road bicycle event for riders of all abilities, will be held Saturday, March 23, to raise awareness of the trail and funds for its completion from Athens to Union Point.
The fully supported out-and-back ride, with distance options up to 87 miles, will be on paved roads and will again have registration and start/finish points in Athens, Winterville and Union Point, with all riders starting at 9 a.m.
The route will use scenic, low-traffic roads as close as possible to the route of the historic Athens Branch of the Georgia Railroad. The ride highlights friendly towns, historic depots and beautiful countryside, and will demonstrate the potential for creating a nationally significant, 39-mile rail-trail on or near the former railroad corridor.
Registration is now open on www.Active.com or riders can register on paper with forms available at www.fireflytrail.com and in area bicycle shops. Pre-registration for the ride is $40, $30 for students, and teams of 5 or more can register for $35 each. All pre-registered riders will receive this year’s Firefly Trail t-shirt. Day-of registration will be $45 with shirts available while supplies last. Riders must sign a waiver and wear a helmet.
Also, volunteers are needed to assist with registration and rest stops. All volunteers receive a free t-shirt. To sign up, go to http://signup.com/go/WkEKLxu. All proceeds support the work of Firefly Trail Inc., a Georgia nonprofit dedicated to making the Firefly Trail a reality.
“This year’s ride is especially exciting because of the tremendous progress being made in Athens, Winterville, Maxeys, Woodville, Union Point and many areas in-between,” said President Mark Ralston. “Riders can actually enjoy a short segment of the trail in Athens. Another segment in Winterville is expected to be complete by the end of this year, Maxeys is working on securing the final rights-of-way for construction of its Model Mile, and Union Point is raising matching funds for a grant it has received and is in the process of securing property.”
Also exciting are the post-ride events in Athens and Union Point. Both events will provide live music, one free pour of locally brewed beer for riders age 21 and over with ID and their rider wristband, plus food vendors and more. See details below.
The ride route will be marked and supported by SAG vehicles, with frequent rest stops that provide restrooms, snacks, sports beverages and water. Riders can turn around at any point to create the distance that is ideal for them. Like last year, riders can start from any of three SAG locations. All are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Athens – Jittery Joe’s Roaster, 425 Barber St.
- Winterville – Winterville Depot, Main Street and Parkview Street
- Union Point – Union Theatre, 101 Fluker St.
Additional SAG stops will be located at
- Crawford – Historic Crawford Depot, 1158 Athens Road/US 78
- Maxeys – Maxeys City Hall, Ga. 77
- Woodville – CJs Barbecue (full menu available), 1031 S. Dogwood Road/Ga. 77
In Athens and Union Point, post-ride festivals begin at 12 noon and continue until around 3 p.m. Registered riders age 21 and over get one free pour with their wristband and a valid ID. The events are free and open to everyone, not just riders.
Athens: the party starts when The Dixieland Five takes the stage to perform their lively blend of jazz, traditional jazz and Dixieland music. Terrapin Beer will be pouring and selling local brews, the University of Georgia Taqueria 1785 food truck will have delicious eats for sale, and Jittery Joe’s tasting room will offer their full line-up of hot and cold beverages.
Union Point: Local band UnSilanced and The Silver Strings Band from Madison headline the event, which will take place on Fluker Street in front of the historic Union Theatre and nearby areas of downtown. 44 Growlers will be pouring and selling Oconee Brewing Co., beer, CK’s Smokehouse food truck will be on-site, and other vendors will be there, too.
In addition, the Greene County Firefly Trail Local Action Committee is raffling a Scott Hybrid bicycle – retail value of $750 – donated by Georgia Cycle Sport to raise funds for the trail in Union Point. Raffle tickets will be $5 each or five for $20 and will be available at The Big Event on March 16, at Union Theatre on March 23, and at other locations. The drawing will be held April 24.
A special part of the Union Point event will be a free bike rodeo for children ages 4-9 hosted by certified instructors from Bike Athens. Kids can learn safe riding techniques and practice their skills on a fun, off-road, paved course. Families can bring their own bikes and helmets or take advantage of loaner bikes and helmets from Bike Athens, which wants to make sure all children can participate. Also look for a raffle for a kid’s bike donated by Rhodes Sports Corner.
- Advance packet pick-up and day-before registration will be available at Georgia Cycle Sport, 1029 Baxter St., Athens, on Friday, March 22, from 3-6 p.m. Registration will be $40 ($30 for students) with t-shirts available while supplies last.
- Sponsors committed at this time include: Driver level: America’s Home Place in Athens, Athens Physical Therapy, GreenScapes Lawn and Turf, St. Mary’s Health Care System, Georgia Cycle Sport, and Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission; Engineer level: Athens Atlas Chiropractic, Athens Orthopedic Clinic, Corry House, Jimmy Scott, Joiner & Associates, Silver & Archibald, Dee Lindsey, and Oconee Brewing Co.; Conductor level: American Pest Control, Blasingame Burch Garard & Ashley, Greensboro Tire, Indigo Landscaping, The Hamilton Agency, The Real Estate Book Lake Oconee, Farm Bureau of Georgia, The Vining Group, and Waterman Spring Water.
- Additional support is provided by Bike Athens, Georgia Department of Transportation, GFWC Maxeys Woman’s Club, Greene County Firefly Trail Local Action Committee, Jittery Joe’s Roasting Co., Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, Oglethorpe County High School Interact Club, Paceline, Union Point Downtown Development Authority, the counties of Athens-Clarke, Greene, and Oglethorpe; the cities of Crawford, Maxeys, Union Point, Winterville and Woodville, and the National Park Service.
For more information about the ride or the Firefly Trail, follow us on Facebook or visit www.fireflytrail.com.