Wish from Atlanta on 12/1/2019 7:49:52 PM:
I had been mentally preparing for biking Silver Comet + Chief Ladiga trails end to end for a while. So this Black Friday after Thanksgiving I did it. Though I had done the portion between Mavell Road (trailhead in Smyrna) and Hiram few times before, I didn't know what else to expect. Online fora did provide some info, but internet could be so different than the reality! So I approached this like other challenges in life with the guiding philosophy of "prepare mentally, power through and don't ever cheat". I also reminded myself of my school days when I used to ride bikes every day for everything. With that thought, I got my bike checked at local bike shop, purchased a new helmet, got a gel seat cover for my road bike, purchased snacks and drinks, charged everything (lights, phone, power bank, bluetooth earpiece..what not!)..and boom, started at 8.30 AM from Mavell Road, just by myself. Though my wife was supportive in planning, shopping, and dropping me till there, I couldn’t trick her to do it with me ?
Day after Thanksgiving meant, there were not many people on the trail. So I decided to say hello to everyone :) My first stop was in Dallas, GA. It took me about 1.5 hours to get there. I spent near 15 minutes there, used the restrooms, had some snacks, talked to a local senior citizen and continued on. Coot's Lake was my next stop because of the natural beauty. Great lake but little facilities (one portable toilet, no water filling station, no shade on the trail side). Still there was a sweet family of 4, and some cars parked, so felt normal.
From there on, it was unknown territory. I wish I had known better. Rockmart was too soon after Coot’s Lake, so I didn’t stop there. It was about noon by now and I had planned to reach Cedartown by 2PM. I got down from the bike near the Cemetery in Rockmart though, and walked my bike there. Felt bad to bike past that. That sort of became the harbinger of things to come. For the next 10 miles or so, it’s the best kept secret of Silver Comet, the “Surprise Hill”. Somebody must have decided to throw a challenge there, and made the trail encircle several hills. I rode alongside a motorized highway for few miles. Very bare, nothing shaded. And no, it’s not a rail-trail there at all. Because I was going up the hill all the time and noticed the rail track way below the trail. When that stretch ended, it was followed by a stretch with muddy and smelly side areas. My backpack with all day’s supply started feeling all too heavy by this time. I wanted to sit down, but there was no way I was stopping in that stretch. So, I powered through. I had started to feel every organ and fat cells in my body by then. Thankfully, a mile later, there were lovely farmhouses by the trail and few benches to sit on, even a table! Though there was no restroom. Still, I took a break there, ate some snacks, rehydrated myself, called my wife, complained about the lack of information provided like an entitled millennial and reassessed the plan. It was about 1.30 PM, and I had done about 45 miles of the total 95 miles. From my last stop in Coot’s Lake till here, I had barely seen anyone on the trail. Google told me Cedartown Depot was still 6 miles away. Going by the uphill territory, and the super high heart rate for last hour or so, I figured it would take me at least 45 minutes to get to Cedartown. There, I’d need a solid 1-2-hour(s) break and recharging. That meant I needed to stay in Cedartown probably till 4.00 PM. Did I mention the sunset at this time of the year occurs around 5.00 PM? The trail, of course, is legally open only from dawn to dusk! Time to put my luckiest charm on and call my wife! “Honey, I don’t feel good that you’re by yourself on Black Friday and I’m out there having fun on the trail. So, why don’t you come over to Cedartown and we will have the nightfall there! I hear there are plenty of good shops in nearby Rome ????”. That worked! Lo and behold, wife was on her way to Cedartown Depot.
I reached the depot before her though, around 2.30 PM. The Welcome Center, including the restrooms were very closed. Though it’s a cute little town, there were notices all-around to be aware of crime. Good thing, the depot is in the heart of Cedartown downtown, and the traffic was very respectable of a cyclist. I biked to the nearby Town Plaza that had plenty of food and lodge options! Wife joined me there. I was rejuvenated just by the sight of her’s. Besides, what would a few kisses and touches not fix! As women are inherently more capable of better planning and nurturing than men, wife had a dinner buffet reserved, a good hotel booked and brought on my night clothes and morning necessities. The Jacuzzi had never felt better in my life! That night I slept like a baby!
(Rest to follow)