What began with eight Black south DeKalb cyclists in 1984 has grown into a 61-member Atlanta cycling organization.
The Metro Atlanta Cycling Club (MACC), a predominantly Black group of male and female cyclists, exists to “promote cycling in the Black community and build camaraderie among all cyclists,” said Greg Masterson, MACC’s president.
“At first we were pretty much a group of guys that rode together,” said Masterson, who has been a member since 1989. MACC started at the now-closed Yellow Jersey Bicycle Shop, a Black-owned bicycle shop in south DeKalb from 1984-1992.
Although the group is open to cyclists throughout Atlanta, approximately 50 percent of the club members are from DeKalb County, Masterson said.
Throughout the month, MACC has various rides including women-only rides. Beginners’ rides are from seven to 20 miles and there are 30- to 60-mile rides for advanced riders.
There are also impromptu rides that usually leave from the Kensington MARTA station.
“These are kind of the Breakfast Club rides,” said Masterson, who cycles 3,000-4,000 miles per year.
Other rides start at Miller Grove Middle School, Stone Mountain Park, Arabia Mountain and Smyrna’s Silver Comet trail.
MACC member Larry Jennett said the group, which is “the only hardcore cycling club” of which he has been a member, is “very enjoyable.”
Jennett has been a member of the organization for approximately 20 years and into “serious cycling” since the early 1980s.
“Legend has it I was born on a bicycle,” said Jennett, who rides approximately 4,500 miles per year.
“I just enjoy cycling tremendously, it’s almost like a cure-all for me,” who added MACC is “almost like a home away from home.”
“You’re fully accepted for who you are…and there’s always somebody there to help you,” Jennett said.
Jennett, a foreman in the automatic train control department of MARTA, said he has heard of turmoil in other cycling groups that led to splits.
“We’ve managed to stay together,” Jennett said. “It’s like a big happy family. It’s a wonderful organization.”
Jennett said the health benefits of cycling are “tremendous.”
“It’s a good healthy lifestyle and there’s always somebody [in the club] to encourage you,” Jennett said. “It’s a good way of staying fit.
“My goal is a century on my century,” Jennett said. “When I get to be 100 years old, I want to do a 100-mile bike ride. Hanging out with MACC, I might get there.”
To become a member of MACC, cyclists must be able to remove the front or rear wheel and replace a tube, and comfortably be able to perform left and right turn signals and stop signals. Cyclists must also be able to look over the left or right shoulder to check traffic and ride with either hand while drinking from a water bottle.
Within a year of applying for membership, which has a $30 annual fee, cyclists must complete seven rides, accompanied by three or more members.
“We do that so that everybody gets to know everybody,” Masterson said.
Potential members must also complete a 50-mile bike ride.
“To do 50 miles, you’re a cyclist,” Masterson said. “You don’t have to do it fast.”
Masterson, a database administrator at the Federal Reserve Bank, said MACC always tries to be an inclusive group.
“In some rides, people take off and if you can’t keep up, that’s it,” Masterson said. “We try to look out for people so that people don’t get left behind.”
In addition to sponsoring monthly rides, MACC sponsors a fundraiser ride called the One Love Century, which has raised $5,000-$11,000 each year for the past six years.
Proceeds go to promote inner city cycling. MACC has raised money for the youth cycling programs at the Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point and for the East Atlanta Kids Club, an after-school program that puts on a bike rally.
For TaVona Boggs, who began cycling a year ago, MACC offers camaraderie and a chance to learn from more experienced riders.
“And I feel like I have more protection,” Boggs said. “There’s safety in numbers.”
“It’s very easy to lose an elbow” when a car drives by, Boggs said. “It’s another thing when you have a group of 20 riders. [Drivers] tend to have more respect.”
Boggs, who has been a MACC member since January, said relationships she has built with cycling club members provide additional motivation to ride.
“Blacks on bikes is not something that you see very much,” Boggs said. “Blacks being active and having an active lifestyle is not something we see.
“When I want to be a couch potato, inevitably somebody is going to call me and say, ‘Hey, are you going on that ride today?’” Boggs said.