It’s not the Tour de France, but cyclists are racking up the miles in and around Reynolds on Lake Oconee.

Jim Carpenter’s original idea was simple: A group of friends meeting at Lake Oconee Village for a weekly bike ride. They’d start in the parking lot of a nearby bank; three, four, maybe five of them pedaling through the local countryside.

That was seven years ago. Work began to pull Carpenter away from Lake Oconee so steering the bike club fell to Lisa Baynes, who is now the big wheel of the Lake Oconee Cycling Group, which has an email list of nearly 100 riders, novice to advanced. From March to mid-fall, 20 or so members take off on varied excursions twice a week. On Tuesdays, they start on Walker Church Road and ride a scenic stretch north toward the quaint city of Greensboro. Thursday’s ride is a “Bike n’ Brew” that covers the countryside and makes a frothy finish at a favorite establishment offering a hearty selection of after-ride rounds.

“There’s really a pretty large biking community here,” explains Reynolds’ resident Barbara Mazza, who began riding after meeting Bette Grotke, an avid cyclist with more than 35 years in the saddle and a great track record of introducing the sport to people who wouldn’t know a derailleur from a drumstick. Grotke even convinced her husband to start riding four years ago; now, he’s hooked.

“Barbara is our biggest success story,” says Grotke. “She started as a novice with an older, used bike and is now taking on 20-25 miles each excursion and using the latest and greatest biking gear.” Grotke has her own email list of avid wheelmen and women, which usually results in 6 to 12 riders per outing. There’s no set calendar, but the group rides pretty consistently throughout the year as the weather permits. Besides covering local roads and trails, Grotke’s group makes two or three farther-flung trips a year, enjoying the Brag Ride in Madison and Columbus, Augusta’s Canal Trail, and the Silver Comet Trail in Atlanta.

“It’s amazing to see groups like these come together,” says Jim Carpenter, who is again riding regularly each week thanks to spending more time at his home at Reynolds.

“That’s really the special thing about this place. If you have a hobby or interest, it’s pretty likely you’ll find several others that are eager to jump in and share in it with you.”

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