Welcome to the first edition of Ed’s Corner. When the idea for this column surfaced during our website makeover, I was reluctant. After all, it’s just trail construction, and I’m not a journalist bursting with extraordinary tales to share. But my website designers were persistent. They described the column as a place where I could “share my musings” rather than one that encourages world peace. I agreed to give it a shot.
I will use this opportunity to plug a trail project or two, thank the many folks who have helped me through the years, and ramble on about my favorite biking experiences. This first column will be devoted to the latter.
Almost every weekend in the warmer months, my biking buddies and I strap the bicycles on the back of my Explorer and drive almost an hour to the sweet spot of the Silver Comet Trail. Do I like driving an hour to bike? No, but the first 20 miles of the Comet are just too crowded. Plus, I am not a fan of that group of traffic lights around miles five and six. Clicking in and clicking out is just too much to think about while you’re cruising, talking and dodging other modes on the trail. Our group prefers the journey through the towering forests and rolling pastureland between Rambo and Rockmart and westward.
As the five of us rolled into the Rambo trailhead at mile 22.3 on a late November day, we noticed the cyclists passing were clad in earmuffs, parkas and long johns. We were obviously underdressed in our summer gear and long-sleeve shirts. As we accelerated away from the Nursery, the crisp 55-degree air sent streaks of tears from the corner of my eyes. A chill-induced shudder made me second-guess our decision to dress for noon and begin our ride at 9:15 a.m. I have never been a fan of biking when scarves, coats and mittens are required.
I don’t know if it was the sun on our backs on the straightaways, the warmth of socializing with my buddies, or the body heat generated from the ride, but at some point, we were at the perfect temperature inside and out.
Side Note: Is the first mile or two of almost every ride tough for everyone or is it just me? I always seem to gasp for air and feel a bit awkward during the first mile of my rides. At some point though, my little aches and pains go away, my lungs catch up, my butt reacquaints with the seat, and I kick into gear.
On this particular trip, all five of us were energized and began a non-spoken quest to be leader of the pack. The faster we pedaled, the more we talked; the more we talked, the faster we pedaled. Each of us took turns pulling slightly ahead of the pack, which in turn led to someone else pulling ahead. We went streaking past Castle Rock and roared through Brushy Mountain Tunnel faster than we ever had before. If it was still cold at that point, I don’t remember. I was on an adrenaline high, rocketing toward Rockmart at a blistering 20 miles an hour!
I know there are faster guys out there — and I mean that in a gender-neutral sort of way. But rides like this are special to me. I don’t know if it was the company, the borderline frostbite conditions, or just because I knew it was likely to be the last ride of the season, but it was special. I get such a rush out of these rides that I can almost feel that shudder-chill writing about it. I’ll spend this coming season in search of a similar ride each time I have the privilege of riding with these guys.
The ride back from Rockmart that day was warmer and slower but no less enjoyable. Almost everyone we passed coming back had the likes of a load of laundry tied around their waists or stacked across their handlebars. We, on the other hand, were sleek and sheik as we pulled up to the Explorer at Rambo. (Near-frostbite leaves no scars.) What a day; what a ride. What a rush!
Lord, just keep me healthy another year so I can do it again. I’m not sure anyone enjoys it more than I do.
So that’s my first musing. Guess I’ll have to say something sustentative in the next one.