Posted by: twistsoffeet | May 22, 2011

And for Today’s Adventures, We Present…

The continuing saga of the Nomad Warrior, today comes to you from the Eubanks Welcome Center on the Chief Ladiga Trail in Piedmont Alabama.

Talk about laid back and peaceful– this place is it!!

Today started with some tough early miles, but ended on a trail without any cars and very few people.  But I will get to that later.  Since I missed yesterday’s post, I should update everything.

My last post Thursday night had me camping at McIntosh Reserve Park in Whitesburg, GA.  I had met Becky and Ruth, librarians at the local library, and they arranged for me to be able to camp at the Reserve. I believe I had mentioned that there was a large group of several families camping there also.

It turns out that it was about five families who had pitched their tents encircling an area of about ten camp sites, so no one else could use those sites.  That was fine because I just found a campsite that was isolated from the others and pitched my tent.

It should have been peaceful.

But ooooh no, that was not to be.  About 8:00p, one family came to use the bathrooms by my campsite, bypassing the restrooms by their own campsite. The kids were running around, tripping over my tent stakes and guy lines, making much noise.  The mother was as loud and as obnoxious as the kids.

But I just did my thing until they went away and left me in peace… temporarily.

About 11:30p, two of the mothers and a five or six kids came up to my campsite to wash their dishes, banging things around and yelling and laughing all while I was trying to sleep.

Then, crash one of the kids knocked over my bike and fell on the rear wheel, bending the rim.

It was dark and I couldn’t see it at the time, but it was obvious when I tried to ride out in the morning. I finally got to sleep about 1:30a, and then at about 05:30a, two of their vehicles drove up to my campsite with three of the mothers, a couple fathers, and a bunch of kids.

They proceeded to take over my picnic tables, unloading all their food and stoves, etc.  I had had just about enough, so I got up and started packing my gear, when one of the fathers said “Oh! Did we wake you up?”

I growled, “Of coarse you did!”

To which he replied, “Sorry…” and laughed.

I finished packing and escaped.

In defense of Whitesburg, the families at the Reserve were not local.  They had come down from the Atlanta area, and the closer I got to Atlanta, the bigger assholes the people became.

Friday was a brutal 43 miles of the steepest longest hills yet, but fortunately not much headwind. I was back to traveling on a multi-lane divided highway, with very little shoulder; but at least it had two lanes each direction, so people could move into the other lane to avoid me, usually.

After riding about 43 miles, I could go no further. I saw an exit for Callahan, GA and I took it. I did not make it far when I started to get serious leg cramps and could absolutely go no further.

To make it worse, I was out of water.  Nobody would even talk to me to tell me where I could get water until finally one man stopped and said there was a store down the hill where I could get water.

I rode to the store where I got water, and spoke to the woman working there, who suggested I ride four miles to the VFW park and camp, but they would charge me, so I advised that was not an option.

A female customer then handed me $2.50 and said that would cover my camping fee. I told her that I did not want her money, but then the woman working there handed me $5.00, which I also tried to refuse.  They both said together that GOD takes care of them, and He would want them to help me and refused to take the money back.

So I told them the story of my trip, and where I was going and why, and while they thought it was cool, it wasn’t for them.

By then it was dark, and I was not about to ride these roads in darkness. I started heading for the VFW park, but was also looking for another option. I saw a police officer and flagged him down. I had just started speaking to him when the customer from the store drove up and started yelling at me, wanting her money back, which I was happy to return to her.

She accused me of running a scam and said she just found out that I had been panhandling and swindling people in town for two months!!!  I advised I had never even heard of the town before, and the police officer said he had never seen me before.  The woman then threw the money back at me and drove off.

The cop decided it would be good to check my ID, which came back clear.  Another cop showed up and neither could think of a closer place to camp. Finally, one of them suggested the Sunoco truck stop. I drove to the truck stop and spoke to Sherri and Crystal, who gave me permission to camp on the north 40.  I slept pretty well considering big rigs and drunks from the liqour store were coming and going all night.

The morning was cold and my arthritis, which has been barking at me all week, was crippling me today.  But I worked through it and rode 21 miles to Cedartown, GA, where I went to the depot and trail head for the Silver Comet Trail. I met Alvin, the local trail ranger and a very nice guy.  He told me several places to camp and even suggested his back yard. I passed on his offer because since I was already riding, I may as well get a good ride in.

The Silver Comet Trail is an old rail line that runs from Smyrna to the border, with Alabama about ten miles west of Cedartown, where it turns into the Cheif Ladiga Trail and runs another 31 miles to Anniston, AL .  The trail in both states is very easy, nearly flat and very pleasant.  Very few bicyclists and no motorized vehicles allowed.

The view on the Georgia side is pleasant, but on the Alabama side of the line is beautiful.

I finally arrived in Piedmont after another 43-44 mile day of riding. Tired, hot, and in need of a place to camp. I was in luck; right on the trail is the Eubanks Welcome Center and I stopped to ask them about a place to stay.  They said I could camp on their grounds.  They also provided me with water and there is a porta potty because they are having some water issues in the Center and their bathrooms.  But beggars cannot be choosers.

I have not yet planned my route for tomorrow, but I may take a rest day if they will let me stay here another day.

Generally, though, I do plan on heading straight north from here, cutting between Memphis and Nashville through Tennessee and Kentucky, into Illinois.  But I will continue doing just what I have been doing and just following my instincts and go wherever the road takes me.

On a little side note, I thought I would mention how my equipment is doing.  The kids that bent my rim also broke my handlebar basket, but I was able to rig it up and it is doing fine.  My trailer, besides being very heavy, has performed a stellar job and is doing better than anticipated. By the way, the trailer is a Croozer that I purchased through Bike Nashbar.

All in all, my equipment is performing as good as or better than expected.

I met a couple on the trail today; they are both in their late sixties or early seventies and ride most weekends, usually about 50 miles. They were pleasant, helpful, and energetic… and an inspiration to me and others who witness them riding every week. When the husband retires, they intend to do an extended tour across or around the country or more. And I, for one, wish them well and hope they do it.


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