Meet Charlton Bivins, Chair of the Clayton County Cycling Club (C4)

photo courtesy of Charlton Bivins

Like many days, Charlton Bivins rode his bike the short distance from his new dream home in the City of Jonesboro, Georgia to the five miles of paved multiuse trail in Clayton County’s International Park.

He passed the beach where the Centennial Olympic Games held its volleyball matches, climbed hills, and greeted the Stick Ladies who walk each morning carrying tall walking sticks, enjoying his sixth year of retirement after serving for twenty seven years with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office (as a captain) and as a board member with the Clayton County School District (following his advocacy work for needed improvements after the county lost its accreditation).

Not one to join cycling clubs (of which there were none in the entire county anyway), he rode purely recreationally with the simple goal of staying in shape. Being one of those people who has “never met a stranger,” it was natural to say hi to other people on bikes whom he passed with regularity, and he enjoyed this low-pressure, inclusive socialization.

But then something unexpected happened in that summer of 2019.

Charlton and someone he met on the trail decided to start riding together casually.

And then another person joined them.

And then another.

The four of them got to talking about a need they saw in their community and decided to hold a Dad’s Ride for fathers and their sons and daughters to encourage men to take more active participation in their children’s lives.

And then in 2020, exactly a year later, in the middle of our current global pandemic, they decided to start what is now the first and only cycling club in Clayton County, named C4 (Clayton County Cycling Club).

According to the C4’s website:

C4-Clayton County Cycling Club was organized, membership offered, created social media presence, hosted safe and skill level relevant rides and routes, created relationships with various other clubs and has become an official partner with our Clayton Co. Police Dept. along with Clayton Co. Parks & Recreation Department, who in turn has proclaimed C4-Clayton County Cycling Club as the Clayton Co. International Park Trail Ambassadors. 

We look forward to partnering and diligently working with our non profit community and our municipalities on any projects or initiatives that will lift up our community of “hills and thrills.”

Our goal then and now is to improve the perception of our community, to uplift Clayton human services organizations and introduce our county to fun, safe and mutually beneficial cycling opportunities,as we endorse healthy lifestyles and a heck of a lot of fun!

C4 considers itself a social club where everyone is welcome (including True Beginners) and qualifies for a club jersey from day one of membership (which costs $30 a year). (You can always ride with the club without being a member.) The club grew quickly to a core group of about 22 and saw up to about 40 riders with regularity during Fall 2020, all naturally socially-distanced on bikes.

They rode short distances around the park on a weekly ride named Ride Down Wednesdays (usually concluded by a watermelon social) and longer distances around the nearby mansion-lined Lake Spivey. They took trips to other places in Metro Atlanta to ride and looked forward to when they could enjoy a full array of food and other social aspects to their outings once the pandemic is under control.

The official rides, briefly paused for winter, will start up again shortly. Club members will also receive access and discounts to other amenities and businesses, such as the recently-opened Lake Spivey Recreation Center which will feature a dedicated day for C4 members each month at its state-of-the-art Spin Studio.

In the meantime, as partners with Clayton County Parks and Recreation, C4 is currently planning four quarterly youth workshops in International Park and are developing coaches for the county’s eventual goal to create and support youth cycling groups in all county parks. It would be the first county in Metro Atlanta to do this.

In addition, they are considering the possibility of a community ride where the roundabouts on the trail feature Roundabout Rap sessions with special guests who teach brief lessons on life skills, diabetes prevention, social justice, COVID-19 prevention, and more.

If you go to International Park on any day, you will most likely see members of C4 riding their bikes around the park (recognizable by their clothing). What’s more, you can rest assured you are in good hands there. In addition to Charlton, there are at least two other members of the club who are current or former members of law enforcement (including with the Georgia State University Bike Patrol). As official trail ambassadors, they are invested in making sure you have a safe and positive experience.

You may even decide to join C4 as a result.

And you’d be welcome.

In the meantime, you can visit C4’s Facebook page here and meet the rest of C4’s leadership team here. No matter where you live in Metro Atlanta or throughout the USA, you may be inspired by C4 to move ahead with some of the plans for community outreach and education you might have shelved due to the pandemic. If interested, here is a list of youth cycling programs, family rides, and more, throughout the USA.

If Charlton Bivins can teach us anything, it’s that a positive attitude prevails and there is always a way forward. As CHarlton told me, “We set people up for success.”

It was my great pleasure to be able to spend time talking with Charlton this week, and I hope to cross paths with him soon. Maybe even during my next RideSpot tour . . .

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