Saturday, September 22, 2012

We Catch the Comet

Silver Comet Ride
Day 2
September 21, 2012
50.7 miles
We have ridden many bike trails built on abandoned rail beds, but the Silver Comet Trail is the most luxurious--an extra-wide very smooth concrete bicycle super highway running through heavily wooded terrain, punctuated by many well-lit tunnels, trestles with great views, and lots of trail-side benches, picnic tables and inviting places to stop and rest.  Constructed at an average cost of $325,000 per mile, its elegance is very much in keeping with the tradition of its namesake, the Silver Comet passenger train that ran between New York and Birmingham from 1947 to 1969.  Each of the shiny silver coaches on the train had a porter, a customer service representative and a nurse to assure the total care and comfort of its passengers.


We hopped on the trail at the Rockmart Trailhead, just a two mile ride from our hotel, and we quickly left civilization behind.  The trail had gentle grades of six percent or less, while the terrain around us rapidly changed from deep ravines to high stone-faced cliffs.  There were a few farms, a few housing developments, a few cross-roads, and one very stinky water treatment plant along the way, but mostly, our ride was just a very pleasant cruise through deciduous woodlands with just a hint of fall color beginning to show on a perfect Indian summer day.  Most of the time, our views were pretty much the same views those pampered Silver Comet passengers enjoyed as they gazed out the windows of speeding train. We just got to appreciate the views at a far more leisurely pace.

We departed the trail at Hiram, where we stopped for lunch at a delightful Italian restaurant adjacent to an extremely active commercial rail line.  A very long very slow train caught our attention as it spent at least ten minutes passing by, then came to a dead stop, blocking what looked to be a main thoroughfare of the town. It never moved again during our meal.  Apparently, the locals know how to get around this minor impediment to their travel plans.  Fortunately, we didn’t need to get past the train to get back on the trail and return to Rockmart.


Off the trail and on the road back to our hotel, we made a detour to Dairy Queen for well-earned cold sweet treats.  

Back at the hotel, it was time for showers and naps, then our happy hour in the hotel lobby, where there was twice as much food and wine on the table as last night, making it hard to get ourselves motivated to move on to dinner.   

We had a deadline, though --Frankie’s, everyone’s favorite dinner spot in town, closes at 8:30.  When we got there, Frankie herself welcomed us warmly, and invited us to wander around and look at all the things people have written on the walls.  She doesn’t serve wine (a little problem with her distributor), but Frankie gladly let us bring our own.  Club members who have been here before searched out the spots where they and other illustrious members have immortalized themselves and the Coastal Bicycle Touring Club by writing on the walls, then we settled down to a good mangia meal.  

Is it possible that we just experienced a perfect day of cycling and camaraderie?  We wouldn’t change a thing.   

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