“It’s a funky little mountain town,” says Jon Dalman of Dahlonega Wheelworks of his hometown Dahlonega, Ga., which is known as the gateway to the Southern Appalachians. “We’re only an hour from Atlanta, but it feels like a different world.”
The town is a mixed bag of culture: students of North Georgia College and the Military College of Georgia reside here, as well as a growing number of outdoor transients who have come for the Southeast’s best road cycling. The area is used for part of the rugged Tour de Georgia, which has seen some of the world’s best, including Lance Armstrong.
Six Gap Century
On September 28, 2,500 riders will tackle the ups and downs of six of the steepest ascents in the North Georgia Mountains—climbing more than 10,700 feet throughout the 100-mile Six Gap Century. The ride’s hardest climb at Hogpen Gap can break the will of even the toughest riders. Hogpen averages a seven percent grade for seven miles, with sections as steep as 15 percent.
The Gap Starter
Those not quite up for the full six gaps can get a taste of the twisty mountain passes with the Three Gap ride, a popular route for visitors that leaves right from town and covers 52 miles with 5,000 feet of vertical climb.
While road cycling gets most of the cred in Dahlonega, off-road offerings abound, including the screeching single track on the 11-mile Bull Mountain trail system. Hikers can access the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Springer Mountain, with a 2.5-mile hike from Nimblewill Gap or a shorter one-mile hike from Big Stamp Gap.
For post-ride pizza and beer, head over to Caruso’s Italian Restaurant, which also houses the Dahlonega Brewing Co. If you’re looking for something more upscale, try Corkscrew Café. After dinner, catch some tunes at Crimson Moon, a well-known Southern folk music venue.