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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)

 
Wish from Atlanta on 12/1/2019 10:17:27 PM:
(Continued..) I woke up well past 10 next morning. It was a typical Saturday morning, except the effects of day after 51 miles biking were apparent. Muscles and joints sore, heart rate still a little high, and my butt slightly swollen (damn that gel seat cover). I thought of the night before – I remembered feeling cold, popping a paracetamol, and wife giving me a body massage to put me to sleep. What was I thankful for this year again! Room coffee was no good. Wife had found a great brunch place by then. I dressed-up and we left for the brunch in Rome. God, the waiting line was so loooooooong. Had some lovely conversations while waiting though, Rome has its own laurels. I had a high protein breakfast. It took us only 1.5 hours there, so it was well past noon. And I had promised to take my wife to Shopping! God, was it going to be another day? Wife figured my misery and decided to stomp on it. Wife (playfully) - “Honey, should we go to the mall now?” Me – ‘you mean in Anniston, AL, right?’ Wife – “Of course!” She dropped me to the Cedartown depot. We took some great pictures there. I discarded the seat cover and was back on the trail by 1.30 PM. From there to the state boundary in Esom Hill, it was mostly uphill, 150 ft. or so over 11 miles. I didn’t have any problem doing that in about an hour. Highest point I noticed was about 950 ft above sea level. Wife joined me at the state boundary, we shot some videos and took some pictures. We met few other bikers who were also from Atlanta. As for facilities, there were no restrooms, but some benches and shades, and, of course, the welcome arch. The Silver Comet trail ends there (or starts there, depending upon which side you are coming from), and Chief Ladiga trail starts. Chief Ladiga trail has 33 miles that I had to do. It was about 3.00 PM by then. Google said sunset was at 4.22 PM in Anniston, AL where the Chief Ladiga trail ends. Time zone changes couple miles into Alabama! I had about 2 hours to do 33 miles. Good thing is, it’s all downhill from Esom Hill, GA to Piedmont, AL. I walked my wife to the Jeep and resumed biking. I reminded myself that it won’t get totally dark right after the sunset, so the trail would still be legally open. That thought brought some comfort and allowed me to appreciate the magical mountain chains in the background. I muttered “Alabama has its heart in place” when I noticed the trail surface being Asphalt! (Georgia has only 13 miles of Asphalt and rest concrete). Though, Asphalt would invariably break and be bumpy. So, I left it to the experts to determine what’s the best surface for the trail and indulged in taking selfies by small rivers, creeks and bridges in the protected wilderness of Talladega National Forest at the foot of Duggar Mountains. I felt super happy in the moment. Wife surprised me with a cheer girl routine at Eubanks Welcome Center at Piedmont. It was easily the best neighborhood over the last 50 miles or so. Small children playing, dogs jumping around, cats meowing, and squirrels charging at you before making sudden U-turns. Saying hello to everyone finally paid off. People seemed happy. Dark clouds and wind were noticeable though. The watch ticked 4.00 PM. I had 19 miles more to go. “Go, go, go” I was speeding though I didn’t notice any posted signs. The miles went past in a hurry, most of it felt downhill. I switched on the front and back flashlights, which was a good move considering there were several street crossings. Large offices and plants also felt like coming back to the city life, which I had begun to crave by then. Jacksonville State University felt like a great area. From there, the last few miles went contemplating when would I ever get to do this again! I let out a shriek – a mix of joy, relief and missing you already - when the sign said, “Welcome to Anniston”. Anniston was just the right place for the after party. And shopping!

 
Regular Joe from LakeLanierLand on 12/9/2019 2:16:15 PM:
Really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you.

 
BiknJ from Orange Park, FL on 12/19/2019 11:59:45 PM:
I enjoyed it too. In fact, at times I was laughing out loud. I've ridden from Smyrna to Cedartown and I know where those hills are. I did a lot of research before I went up there ...so I wasn't totally surprised. I had to walk up Mount Trashmore. Luckily I wasn't trying to do it all in one day. We had to cut our trip short when it got cold and wet. 35 degrees and raining in late November is not ideal riding weather.

 
magda on 12/25/2019 10:11:00 PM:
Enjoy reading about your experience. Didn't know about the hills. Thanks for sharing.

 
Wish from Atlanta on 12/27/2019 11:47:28 AM:
Thank you for the kind words! I'd love to hear more about other people's experiences and also about other good trails in the area. This last weekend I did Path400 (caution: not fully open yet) to Beltline to Stone Mountain. I am thinking of doing the Chattahoochee Riverwalk/Bike next. Anyone interested in joining?

 
Anita from Atlanta on 2/10/2020 12:56:56 PM:
Super liked your post. Did you bike the Chattahoochee river-walk?

 
Wish from Atlanta on 2/15/2020 11:35:38 PM:
@Anita: Yes! But I'm always game for Columbus. Not sure whether or not to drop my coordinates here, maybe admin can help get connected.

 
Ray [webmaster] on 2/17/2020 7:47:30 AM:
Yes if you are trying to get connected but don't want to publicly post your email, send it to me at contact@bikesilvercomet.com. Then I'll share the emails with you both.

 
Anne from Greenville,SC on 3/10/2020 8:28:35 PM:
I have some logistical questions. Is it possible to rent bikes at one end or the other, complete the trail, and somehow get the bikes back to where they belong? Any ideas?

 
BiknJ from Orange Park, FL on 3/10/2020 9:55:13 PM:
Ride it back. ;-)