The 160+ member club was awarded “Best New Club” for 2019 by the national governing body for bicycle racing.
The Southern Velo cycling club was founded by a group of friends in November 2018 with the simple objective of providing an organizational umbrella for casual groups of cyclists who are active in the region. Comprised of cyclists of all ages, abilities and disciplines, the club’s motto simply states “we like bikes and the people who ride them.”
The club and its sponsors offer its members a common team identity, structure and leadership on group rides, funding for local ride and race events, and hosts social events throughout the year. The club training rides provide a safe forum for new riders who want to learn the ropes or make the jump from recreational riding to competitive racing.
Southern Velo members engage in a wide array of cycling disciplines such as road cycling, mountain biking, cyclo-cross and the growing trend of “gravel grinding,” which explores the vast network of unpaved roads usually inaccessible to skinny-tire road bikes.
The club’s road racing team, “American Air p/b Haier” had a particularly successful first racing season, participating in nearly 300 race events throughout the southeast, taking 48 wins and nearly 50 additional podium finishes along the way. The team also won six Tennessee State Championship races and two Best Area Rider jerseys, which are awarded to the points leader at the end of the racing season.
Southern Velo will again be the host club for the Dalton Grand Prix bicycle race in northwest Georgia on April 4 and 5. The race weekend consists of a fast-paced criterium race around the perimeter of Dalton High School on Saturday, and a classic road race on Sunday on the rolling country roads near Dalton. The race attracts a competitive field of amateur and pro racers from the southeast. Proceeds from the race benefit the United Way of North West Georgia. Last year, Southern Velo and the race organizers were able to donate $17,500 to support the education, health and basic needs of the local community.
The award is based on several factors, such membership composition and diversity, competitive race promotion, rider and juniors development, race results, and club social activities that go beyond the bike. Southern Velo was recognized by USA Cycling for exhibiting all of these factors in the short one-year period of time since the club’s inception.
Southern Velo membership is open to the public. Registration information, club activities and ride schedules are available on the Southern Velo website, Facebook and Instagram pages. Club members can likely be seen celebrating their win at a local sponsor, the Dalton Brewing Company. More information about the club can be found at teamsouthernvelo.com.