Back to Summer in the South Index…
Sunny skies, sweet scents and a springtime breeze are all you need to feel free as you hop out of your car and hop on your bike for a ride around town. As spring turns to summer, you’ll find plenty more reasons to want to get out of the house and experience the local outdoors. Taking a bike trip around the city is a perfect way to make new friends, see new sights you might have missed before and kick your health habit up a notch.
That’s exactly what I was able to do on a beautiful, sunny morning preparing for this article and this print edition. I joined up with Dianna Ward, a friend and an openly lesbian entrepreneur, owner and founder of Charlotte NC Tours and executive director of Charlotte B-Cycle, a bike-share program launched in 2012. I met Dianna at Midtown’s Metropolitan, hopped on a B-Cycle bike and we made our way down Little Sugar Creek Greenway for a relaxing ride down to Park Road Shopping Center, where we grabbed some coffee and I interviewed Dianna for our “Our People” Q&A (read it at: goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com/35265/).
The greenway trip was a great experience, bringing back memories of my love for biking as a kid and teen. Before I had a car, biking was my primary way of getting around town to see friends, go to my job or ride up to Winston-Salem’s Thruway Shopping Center and Borders Books, where I’d often grab a coffee and magazine. But it had been years since I’d been on a bike, since that awful gas crisis in Charlotte a few years back. The ride down the greenway was just what I needed to feel that old love of cycling again, sore legs afterward be damned. I’m looking forward to getting back into biking and I’m certainly going to take Dianna’s list of suggested biking trips around Charlotte as my guide. Read them below.
Trails and trips
Little Sugar Creek: The Little Sugar Creek Greenway snakes across a significant portion of the city already. When complete, it’ll cover over 19 miles of trails. You can already take in the trail all the way from Uptown down to Freedom Park and even on to Park Road Shopping Center or Montford.
Rail Line Brew Tour: Cycle along the LYNX Blue Line in South End and stop in at some of the city’s favorite local breweries, including Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Triple C Brewing Company and Sycamore Brewing. As the Blue Line gets its extension northward, you’ll soon be able to keep riding into NoDa, where you can hit up NoDa Brewing Company, Birdsong Brewing Company and Heist Brewery.
Whitewater Center: For more experienced bikers, Dianna recommends a long trip out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where, once there, you can ride along the center’s acclaimed bike trails.
Johnson C. Smith: On the west side of town, a series of off-street trails, bike lanes and bike routes connect you to Elmwood Cemetery and Frazier Park along Irwin Creek and then on to Seversville Park in Wesley Heights and Johnson C. Smith University in Biddleville. Dianna points out that Johnson C. Smith has some of the oldest remaining historic buildings in Charlotte. On campus, Biddle Hall, still visible across a large portion of the city, used to be the tallest structure in the city.
Recently launched by Charlotte B-Cycle, a series of cycling cards provide local bikers pre-set trips and tours around the city. With names like “B-Entertained,” “B-Shoppers” and “B-Fanatic,” they take riders around center city and elsewhere on themed tours. Here are a couple that caught my eye:
“B-B-Que”/BBQ Tour: Starting at City Smoke in Uptown, the biking path takes you five other area eateries, each with their own favorite local fare, including Lola’s, Mac’s Speed Shop, Mert’s Heart & Soul, Queen City Q and Sauceman’s.
“B-Cultured”/Art & Museum Tour: You’ll get a good culture kick visiting the city’s iconic museums and art galleries on this tour, including Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Discovery Place, Foundation for the Carolinas, ImaginOn, Levine Museum of the New South, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Mint Museum Uptown, NASCAR Hall of Fame and Ross & Pease Art Galleries at Central Piedmont Community College.
more: Learn more about local biking at charlotte.bcycle.com and see local biking paths, trails and more at charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Transportation/PedBike/Pages/Home.aspx.