The Covington Century is here once again.
However, this time, the 100-mile bicycle ride has plenty of changes.
Among the biggest are the ride's charitable benefactors, the Covington Century's starting point and several riding options.
The ride, which participants were clear to point out is not a race, is Saturday, Aug. 4 beginning with a police-escorted mass start at 7:30 a.m. from the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Newton Conference Center at 8100 Bob Williams Parkway. It's the first time the ride will kick off from the location after beginning for years at the now defunct Project Adventure Kids.
The Covington Century was put on annually by Project Adventure Kids for 22 years but the organization folded in 2009, stopping the ride for 2010. In 2011, the Southern Bicycle League stepped up and put together the ride ever since.
The Southern Bicycle League then decided to find a location with a larger parking lot to accommodate the 1,500 cyclists the event drew in '09 and chose the conference center.
From the conference center, participating cyclists in the 100-mile ride will travel through Newton, Morgan and Walton counties, including Jersey, Social Circle, Rutledge, Newborn, Mansfield and Good Hope.
The route is available, for both cyclists and those looking to avoid road congestion, at http://ridewithgps.com/users/99539/routes.
However, for those who don't want to pedal the 100 miles in the heat of August, the event will offer other options this year. There will be a 13-mile guided historical ride, going through Oxford and Covington with free ice cream at Scoops, and then ending back near City Pond Park.
"We're offering a 13-mile ride for people who would want to start getting into cycling," said Southern Bike League Ride Director Charlotte Kuehn.
For riders with a little more experience there will be a 30-mile route, and for a more advanced group, there will be a 66-mile route. The event's main attraction, however, will be the tried and true 100-mile course.
"There will be the same old 100 for those people who used to wait every year for the Covington Century," Kuehn said. "You get real bragging rights when you finish 100 miles on Aug. 4."
The 100-mile course will feature rest stops at McGarity Park, East Newton Elementary, Good Hope Municipal Park and water stops at Fire Station 11, a home on Bostwick Road and Knox Chapel Road and lunch at the Caboose in Rutledge.
Following the ride, there will be an expo at the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Newton Conference Center featuring various vendors, music and pizza in the air-conditioned facility. The Covington Cup will be awarded at around 2 p.m. recognizing the group with the highest attendance. Thirty eight door prizes, ranging from gift certificates to local restaurants to bicycle tune-ups to spay and neuter for your pets will be given out.
The 2012 Covington Century will benefit Newton Trails, Hometown Animal Rescue, Pound Puppies ‘N Kittens.
Registration is $32 for Southern Bicycle League members with a T-shirt, $26 for SBL members without a T-shirt, $40 for non-SBL members with a T-shirt, $32 for non-SBL members without a T-shirt before Sunday. After Sunday registration costs go up to $40 for SBL members without a T-shirt and $50 for non-SBL members without a T-shirt.
"There's so much interest in cycling, it's a perfect event for those who want to put their toe in the sport," Kuehn said. "It's a perfect opportunity because it's going to be fully supported with safety vehicles.
"There are six rest stops, so for anyone who wants to try out cycling this is a perfect opportunity to be fully supported and have a fun time."