Saturday, August 15, 2009

Not for Sissies

On a whim, the kids and I took off on an impromptu visit to the Silver Comet Trail again last night after work.
Mom - somewhat overwhelmed by a week of getting kids in school, preparing lunches, and checking to be certain that no assignments were missed-did not join us.
We decided to try a new portion of the trail that has been recently completed between Rockmart and Cedartown. We traveled a few miles on that leg of the trail last Saturday but I wanted to explore a little further west. So we found the Grady Road trail head and put in.
Now I had already read some less that flattering reviews of this portion of the trail - unlike most of the trail, it is not located on abandoned railroad tracks. The grades were said to be a little drastic. We had already experienced that last Saturday. In fact I had noted on that there was a pretty wicked precipice known as "Surprise Hill". There were no signs to actually indicate which hill was the legendary "Surprise Hill" and I assumed that we had overcome that obstacle last week.
Last night, we had no sooner gotten onto the trail than SURPRISE!
We rounded a corner and our pleasant little smooth ride turned .... well ... challenging!
Ahead of us lurked the mother of all hills. This had to be "Surprise Hill"!
I didn't have my camera and the picture I found is very small - if you can squint your eyes tight enough and really employ your imagination, you may be able to sense some of trepidation we felt.
The thing just kept going... the trail would wind out of sight and when you reached the turn ... it kept going up! I was sure we would soon be in the clouds.
Since we are "lucky" - according to AA - and have bikes with gears, Ab and I quickly began clicking down our gears to try and cool our burning legs! AA has a bicycle with coaster brakes and one gear, which he often points out when we hit challenging terrain.
Though some of us were on foot, we finally made it to the top. It was time for the payoff.
And SURPRISE!.... the downhill wasn't that far down and just ahead, we could already see another steep grade in our future.
That was the story of this ride: steep grade followed by a good coast and another grade....
... then we came to the "dog-leg".. .
And tragedy seemed to lurk closer with every rotation of the pedal.
We had taken a break at one of the hilltops to enjoy the sights and sounds of that secluded portion of the trail - and to cool down. There are some pleasant views from that vantage point and we could barely hear traffic or any signs of civilization other than the barbed wire fence that bordered a nearby pasture.
From there we rode a bit and I had allowed the kids to lead the way. That's when we approached an area in which the trail dropped rapidly. There were no extreme alarm warnings - just a single sign indicating that the trail took a "jack-knife" pattern ahead.
By the time I saw that - gravity and inertia had taken over and the kids were speeding ahead. I called to them to keep control but my calls seemed to fall on deaf ears.
I had a momentary panic when it briefly appeared that at the bottom of this high-speed downgrade, the trail would dump us onto a highway.
Fortunately what I had seen was just more of the trail that almost turned back on itself below.
When we hit the first sharp turn in the dog-leg, AA hit his breaks.
And apparently he locked them up, because he performed what I think a guy in high school used to refer to as a chin-duster! In slow motion he laid the bike down skidding off the side of the trail.
Ab and I were able to stop fairly quickly and I was visually trying to assess the damage.
AA jumped up and ran around saying "I didn't even FEEL that!"
I was somewhat relieved until I asked him to be sure he was okay and reality set in.
Now he just had a GRADE - A, regulation size, strawberry on his knee; but we all were something taken aback by what could have happened.
Since it was getting late and we already knew there were a number of hills between us and our car, we decided to turn back at that point. AA walked his bike for a time, but I convinced him to "get back on the horse" and he did. He was soon coasting down those hills we had earlier climbed, though this time with a little more caution.
We didn't quite make four miles on that little ride and on our way home we discussed whether we would want to go back to that section. The immediate response was "no" but I think we would re-visit it - if for no other reason, just to be able to say that the Grady Road section hadn't beaten us.

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