Cycling Around the World in Clarkston

BikeDeKalb - Clarkston to Stone MountainClarkston is located halfway between Decatur and Stone Mountain, but its spirit is worlds apart.

Bikers riding through the gently rolling multi-use trails of Clarkston will find shaded pathways, easily shared with friendly faces from around the world. Stop in at a local store or restaurant, and you’ll encounter people with the music of other continents in their voices. Women dressed in brightly colored clothing walk to market carrying bundles on their heads just as they do in African villages. Riding through this town is like a trip around the world.

Students at the local high school speak 54 different languages. Stores and restaurants reflect the colorful diversity of the residents, many of whom were former refugees who have re-built their lives, started new businesses and are raising their families in this welcoming community.

The Clarkston Community Center sponsors Communicycle, a mobile bike repair station that travels from neighborhood to neighborhood teaching bike education to members of the community. Begun as a way to build bridges with each other and the local community, the program aims to spread the love of two-wheeled transportation.

Cyclists can use the shop’s tools and supplies, and volunteers will help diagnose the problems and get the bicycle back up and running. Those who need a bike can make a small donation to participate in a earn-a-bike program, through which they will learn basic repair and maintenance skills as they build a bicycle from the frame up.

Your taste buds will be rewarded by a stop in Clarkston, where restaurants reflect the rich cultural diversity of the community.

Among your choices:

BikeDeKalb Refugee CoffeeRefuge Coffee Co. Food Truck is a remarkable non-profit business is a place for visitors to mingle with the multi-ethnic residents of Clarkston. They serve high quality coffee, tea and specialty drinks as well as delicious pastries prepared by Ratio Bakery (just down the road in Decatur). You can find Refuge Coffee Co. Food Truck located across the tracks from the bike path at Ponce de Leon and Market Street every Wednesday and Friday from 7 am to 4 pm. Check out this inspiring video to get a real sense of their work and vision.

The Brockett Pub House and Grill caters to more American tastes, with nachos, fried green tomatoes, burgers, steaks, quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, wraps and salads.

Kathmandu Kitchen and Grill is a casual fine dining restaurant that offers Nepali and Indian cuisine as well as a bar. The cozy and warm establishment offers a varied menu that includes such temptations as Nepali Wai-Wai Noodle Soup, samosas, naan, tandoori, and exotic chicken, lamb and vegetarian specialties.

At Merhaba Shawarma, carnivorous diners can enjoy meats prepared in Levantine Arab style, in which lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats are placed on a spit and grilled for as long as a day. Shawarma is eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, tomato, and cucumber with such toppings as hummus, pickled turnips and amba. Shawarma is a fast-food staple across the Middle East, Europe, and the Caucasus.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has given the community a grant to improve streetscapes that will bring more bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure to the area. Improvements include new lighting, widened sidewalks, arbors, signage, safe crosswalks, railroad crossing enhancements, landscape planting and outdoor seating. You can learn more about the city’s streetscape project by exploring Visualize Clarkston.

When the sun is setting on a Friday night and you yearn for more multi-culture and adventure, check out the Contra dancing that takes place in the Clarkston Community Center. This dance style has mixed origins from English country-dance, Scottish, French dance styles in the 17th century, with strong African influence from Appalachia. Clarkston is the only city in Metro Atlanta that offers this weekly celebration to locals and visitors!

Feel free to stop in and say hello to the welcoming folks at City Hall along the designated route (1055 Rowland Road). They are happy to answer any questions for you about the area and provide an option for a bathroom break. The bike trail extends 1.5 miles through Clarkston, but be sure to leave the path to experience a trip around the world!