City officials in Weaver, Anniston and Jacksonville hope to correct that in the near future. A project spearheaded by the Weaver City Council will place overhead signs on either end of the trail’s crossings into Anniston and Jacksonville, welcoming bike traffic to the respective cities both ways.
“The trail for Weaver is kind of a focal point,” said Mayor Wayne Willis. “We’re always looking for ways to use that.”
Willis said he expects construction of the signs to begin any day and once complete, will put Weaver on the map as far as cyclists on the trail are concerned.
Patrick Wigley, owner of Wig’s Wheels bike shop in Anniston, said any signs or markers on trails are interesting and useful to riders.
“It’s like on the interstate when you see a sign like, 96 miles to Louisville,” Wigley said. “You know how far you have to go, and where you are. It’s interesting to ride through the towns.”
But other than name recognition, added benefit it’ll have for Weaver might be minimal. Willis said while Anniston officials work on extending the trail through the heart of downtown and enticing riders to check out the city’s restaurants and stores, Weaver’s portion of the trail already acts like a highlights package for the city. Once crossing into Weaver, the trail contains an entrance to the city’s main park as well as crossing Main Street.
For experienced bikers, stops are rare and far between on trips on the Ladiga, Wigley said. But certain places can become destinations through word-of-mouth. Wigley said in particular the square in Jacksonville and the Solid Rock Café in Piedmont have become routine markers, with the latter a popular halfway stop for Anniston cyclists trekking 40 miles round-trip on the trail.
“We kind of planned it that way,” said Molly Trainer, an employee at Solid Rock Café, who said on weekends they can average 15 riders a day to the restaurant. “We’re so close to the trail and we try to advertise to them and have healthy foods available.”
Weaver doesn’t have a spot like Solid Rock. Its only restaurant is Heroes American Bar and Grille on Alabama 21 – not exactly a quick or safe ride for cyclists on the trail. But like in Piedmont, the Ladiga crosses right through the city’s small downtown district, and Willis said he thinks the crossing of Main Street can be an inviting stop for riders.
“Later this year we’re going to repave Main Street and have new sidewalks,” Willis said. “I hope people riding through will stop down there.”
A Dollar General and the Bearcat Express convenience store are just a few feet from the trail’s Main Street intersection, and a new grocery store Willis hopes will be open by the fall is even closer.
Stopping points to buy a bottle of water and a quick snack are of great interest to Birmingham native Rebecca Phillips. On Wednesday morning, Phillips was unloading her bicycle on the trail’s entrance in Anniston for a 100-mile trek. Phillips said Weaver’s sign didn’t mean much to her, but any place with a convenient stop to stretch out for a bit is always welcome.
“We always stop once or twice,” said Phillips, who said she didn’t plan ahead where those breaks might take place. “Any time we see a town or something like that, it’s always a good spot to refuel.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.