Since 1991, cyclists of all ages, skill levels and walks of life have ridden the beautiful, scenic back roads of Floyd, Chattooga, and Walker Counties in the Up the Creek Century Bike Ride.
Just as people change over 28 years, Up the Creek road ride has moved, adapted, gotten larger, gone through a name change and new leadership. Started by the former Coosa Valley Cycling Association as a fundraiser, Up the Creek began life as “Up the Creek Without a Pedal” and was staged at Mt. Berry Square Mall with around 100 riders and routes of 30, 62, and 100 mile options. Back then, registration was $8 without a t-shirt and the only SAG (support and gear) offerings were bananas and water.
Local cycling supporters and legends, Bob and Peggy Moore, were integral in the planning of Up the Creek for many years, as was past CVCA President, Chris McCormick.
The next year ridership doubled to 200 with riders from 8 states joining regional riders. The ride eventually outgrew the mall and found a home at Armuchee High School. In 2015 Rome cyclist and then-CVCA President, Mark Webb, made the decision to capitalize on the beauty and infrastructure of downtown Rome and moved the ride to the Forum River Center where it has remained since.
Fast forward to 2019 and “Up the Creek Without a Pedal” has had its named shortened to “Up the Creek” and is under the leadership of local trail advocacy group, TRED (Trails for Recreation and Economic Development). Ridership has soared to the hundreds, and Up the Creek is known for its SAG stops, including a stop for homemade strawberry ice cream at LCCL Strawberry Farm on the way back into town.
But the event couldn’t happen without the dedicated team of volunteers who work behind the scenes to ensure a smooth day for everyone. From chaotic morning registration to Rome and Floyd County Police Departments providing traffic support to SAG drivers picking up tired or broken down riders along the route, the scores of volunteers are the backbone of Up the Creek.
However, some things have stayed the same, like the desire of the cyclists to ride their bikes through some of the prettiest scenery in the area near The Pocket and John’s Creek Recreation Area, the opportunity to meet fellow riders from across the state and region, and the best route markings to assure no one gets lost or turned around on the ride.
This year’s Up the Creek event will take place Saturday, April 27 with registration opening at 6:30 a.m. at the Forum River Center and the ride rolling out at 8 a.m.
Registration can be found online at www.itsyourrace.com by searching “Up the Creek.” This year, riders can choose from road rides in the following distances: 32 miles, 53 miles, 71 miles and 104 miles. All four routes use Broad Street to Riverside Parkway, the Armuchee Connector to Old Dalton Road and Warren Road near the Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. The routes then use Old Summerville Road to Floyd Springs Road up into the Pocket area north of Rome. At that point the routes spread out and meander through the countryside.
“We always emphasize that these aren’t races,” said TRED’s Julie Smith, one of the event’s organizers. “Riders will all begin and end at the Town Green but there’s no big race to the finish line or a podium. When riders get back, Chick-fil-a will provide sandwiches, chips and cookies and showers are available at the Forum River Center for those who want to visit Downtown Rome’s many restaurants afterward.
All proceeds from Up the Creek go toward TRED’s mission of enhancing existing trails and building future trails. Past funding has gone toward Jackson Hill and GE Trails at Garrard Park mountain bike systems in Rome.
2019 UTC sponsors include: Profile Custom Extrusions, Harbin Clinic Gastroenterology, Heritage First Bank, and Harbin Clinic.