I rode my age +10 twice Sunday and Monday with my son coming along to keep me company. The following is a ride report I have posted in a few different places.
BTW, no pie, but I had a great Dark Chocolate Double Fudge milkshake at Steak 'n Shake after the ride.
My son and I had a very nice overnight bike trip to Anniston, AL and back Sunday and Monday (62 miles each way) thanks in large part to ideas and info posted here on the SBL forums. We left Rockmart around 10:45 Sunday morning after the long drive up from Milledgeville.
The first few miles of the Silver Comet beyond Rockmart is surprisingly hilly compared to the trail out to that point. Much of it runs along the side of a highway and is at road grade rather than railroad grade. None of the hills are long, but I imagine many casual riders used to flat rail/trails might have to walk up a couple of them. Even a hill climbing machine like my son can get caught by surprise in the wrong gear and struggle on the one about a mile out.
The detour on regular roads to connect the gap between Rockmart and Cedartown was very nice, scenic and low traffic. It was also a bit hilly. More like what I'm used to at home. No problem for us, but flatlanders should be aware.
The trail into and through Cedartown is an awkward mix of nice trails, sidewalks and on road sections. The Depot in Cedartown is very nice with A/C and bathrooms inside and lots of shade and water available outside even when the depot is closed (as it was on sunday). That is important as it is about 30 miles to Piedmont AL and the next sure source of water.
Watch out for locals on the trail as you leave Cedartown. A family was under a bridge fishing and a baby in a stroller was parked taking up half of the trail as the mother sat by smoking a cigarette.
After a few more hills, the trail flattened out to railroad grade. Somewhere along in here there was a black and white cat asleep in the middle of the trail. I thought it was hurt, but it got up and came over to us like it expected to be petted or fed. The cat was in the same spot when we returned Monday.
There is shade and places to sit just over the Alabama border at the beginning of the Chief Ladiga Trail, but no water. Make sure you have at least 2 bottles full as you leave Cedartown on the way out or Piedmont on the way back. I finished my second bottle each day just as I got to the next town on that stretch.
The scenery from the border to Piedmont was great. Lots of shady sections and cuts into rock walls to make way for the rail line kept it cool on a hot day. There were some nice views from the bridges that crossed the creek than runs along the trail.
The welcome center was open in Piedmont and they told us how to get to the Cafe, near the Civic Center. Mostly fried food, but the grilled chicken fingers and salad were not bad. There was a small amount of tea in the glass of sugar they brought me. The service was friendly and attentive. The recommended Rock Solid Cafe was closed on Sunday and Monday.
The Ladiga trail is narrower than the Comet and is all asphalt. There were a few places where roots seem to be crawling under the trail, cracking the surface and making for small sharp jolts to bikes riding over. It was not bad on my old steel bike with fat rubber, but on a more rigid frame and narrow, high pressure tires, it might be more noticeable. The worst of it was from about mile 18 to 23, but there were some outside that range.
The trail through Jacksonville and on to Anniston was nice but uneventful. At the end of the trail in Anniston, we turned left and then right to follow Weaver Road into Anniston. At the end of that road we turned right on the highway and rode a hundred yards or so to the Royal Inn to stay the night. We did not have a Jacuzzi in our room, but the A/C and the swimming pool water was cold, the shower water was warm, the room and sheets were clean and the beds were comfortable. The TV worked. The Chinese buffet next door was good enough.
There is a Krystal and a McDonalds a short walk up the highway for breakfast. The motel had free coffee, juice and muffins.
The ride back was like the ride out except it started flat and ended with hills.