When we were searching for a route for the Silver Comet Trail between Rockmart and Cedartown, Polk County graciously offered to let us cross the northern edge of the Polk County Landfill with the trail. Without the luxury of an abandoned railroad in this area, we were hard pressed to find the connection we needed. The landfill property available for trail construction had challenges including a rather daunting incline which trail users have now named ‘Mount Trashmore’ due to its proximity to the landfill.
It is rumored that so many people turn around at the base of Mount Trashmore that the pavement is grooved in a half-circle. The vision of cyclists turning around in mass at the bottom of the only big hill on the Silver Comet Trail got me to thinking… how many Silver Comet trips are planned to the base and back of the only real hill on the 93 mile-long trail? I admit, my riding buddies look at me like I’m crazy if I suggest a ride that includes the climb over Trashmore. Maybe avoiding Mt. Trashmore is the smart thing to do. It does seem as though every trek over the mountain for me has been a noteworthy adventure.
It was an early December day in 2010 when I decided to brave the elements for one last ride before hanging up the cleats for another year. I had ridden quite a bit in 2010, including frequent rides to Rockmart (and Frankies’ breadsticks) and back on the Comet. For a change of scenery, I decided to drive to Nathan Dean Park west of Rockmart and ride to Alabama and back. It was a cold, dreary day with light rain forecast by nightfall. I bundled up, squeezed the tires, checked for a spare, and headed for Rockmart.
I launched my ride with a steady wind at my back. I whizzed effortlessly alongside US 278, day dreaming about the rest of my weekend and the DQ stop on the way home. As I weaved through the forest in mile 43, the sea of leaves being whisked along with me reminded me that my wicked pace was largely attributable to the wind at my heels.
The climb up Trashmore was literally a breeze with a nice tailwind pushing me up and over the hill. Down the backside of the mountain I accelerated into the gray winter landscape feeling good about having the climb behind me and looking forward to the long descent coming home. The Cedartown Depot was empty and dark as I blew through downtown Cedartown and rumbled across the boardwalk west of town. A few miles west of Cedartown, the sky darkened and the gusty breeze pushing me westward intensified. I decided it was probably past time for me to turn around and head home. I was the only fool on the trail and the weather was about to get ugly.
As I made my way East, the substantial headwind began to take its toll on my stamina. It was cold, I was tired, and there was still nine miles between me and my car. I struggled to manage ten miles an hour against the wind that I had enjoyed so much on the trip out.
As I approached Mount Trashmore from the west it looked as though fog was shrouding the trail. Leaves and trash swirled around me as I slowly crept closer to what appeared to be low hanging clouds at the summit of the hill. Suddenly I was engulfed in a horizontal sleet storm. My glasses fogged over as the wind-driven sleet pelted my face and body. My first reaction was to stop but I realized I needed to get to a shelter or better yet to my car. As I reached the crest of the mountain, the wind and sleet intensified to the point where I was barely making forward progress. I thought if I could just get over the hump I could escape the storm and increase my speed.
Barely able to see and anticipating the downhill trip on a wet, icy trail, I made the mistake of relaxing a bit as I crested the hill and began the descent. A gush of wind completely stopped my forward motion and down I went, still connected to my bike. I actually think the wind pushed me up the trail while I squirmed around on the trail trying to free my cleats from the bike.
I righted myself and began the descent. I had to pedal hard just to get down the long, steep incline. It seemed like an hour before I could sense the incline decreasing and could make out the stop sign ahead. As quickly as it had started, the sleet storm abated and the wind lost its howl. I stopped very briefly to clear my glasses and looked back to see the ‘fog’ lifting away from the hillside. Mt. Trashmore had lived up to its reputation even as I descended to the relative calmness of the valley below.
Looking back, I should have spent this cold dreary day watching football. With a little help from mother nature, Mount Trashmore splattered me with sleet, blew me backwards, slammed me to the pavement, and made me pedal like hell to get down to level ground. I may help make that groove at the base of the hill a little deeper next time out. Mount Trashmore doesn’t play!