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Old 07-21-10, 11:22 PM   #1
billydonn
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Rides Around Hell'Lanta- And my Georgia Excursion on the Silver Comet

I had business in Atlanta last week and took the opportunity to drive and take my bikes so that I might get in some riding in the area. It was quite an adventure. The heat and humidity that can be characteristic of the deep south were, shall we say, in full flower.

Day 1- I started day one with a short early morning solo ride in Stone Mountain State Park. Scenic indeed but much hillier than my legs are used to!

Day 2- Occupied by my business meetings until early afternoon, I met up with Ron H of BF 50+ in the Park and he took me out on a little tour of the local bike trail, the Stone Mountain Trail. This was a little more level than the Park roads had been but we were also in the heat of the day. We called it a day after about 20 miles for me but I added another five miles of hill work in the Park. All in all a very nice outing and good to meet another 50+ member!

Day 3- I moved from Stone Mtn up to the northern suburbs of Roswell the next day to stay at a friend's home. It's a pretty "bike friendly" community up there characterized by bike lanes on most of the main roads as opposed to a major trail system. I chose to ride the "Thursday Night 20 Miler" route found at http://www.bikeroswell.com/. The three Hs (heat, humidity, hills) made this plenty of ride for me, though it ended up being more like 23 miles counting some wrong turns on the route.

Day 4- Rented a motel in Dallas, GA just west of ATL to sample the fully paved Silver Comet Trail http://www.silvercometga.com/ . It runs about 60 miles from the ATL suburbs west to the Alabama State line where it continues another 30 miles as the Chief Ladiga Trail. This is where my story gets more complex, so I am going to post again tomorrow describing my 62 mile Silver Comet experience.

For now, here are some pics from in and around Atlanta. First: Stone Mtn. Ride with Ron.
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Last edited by billydonn; 07-23-10 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 07-22-10, 04:39 AM   #2
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Looking forward to the Chief Ladiga Trail, Silver Comet Trail story.
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Old 07-22-10, 07:34 AM   #3
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Bike lanes in Roswell? I'm not sure I've seen them except on a few of the really busy roads. I go up to Roswell about once every few months. Nothing up there I need. My last visit was in April when I went to Roswell Bicycles to buy my saddle, Specialized Phenom.
Glad you had a good visit. Thanks for the ride.
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Old 07-22-10, 08:17 AM   #4
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Roswell's mayor is a cycling enthusiast. I'm sure that helps to make it a more bike friendly area.

The Silver Comet is a great resource, if not my very favorite type of cycling. Looking forward to reading about your experience there.

You should try to come back and visit some of the great cycling roads in Georgia sometime. Georgia is a very different place than Atlanta.
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Old 07-22-10, 09:11 AM   #5
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You could always try BRAG. Also, it's been a while since I lived there, but some very good rides down in Buckhead.

I do agree with Bluesdawg, the riding in the state of Ga is VERY good with MANY differnt types of ridding.
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Old 07-22-10, 03:24 PM   #6
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Where is this "Hell'Lanta" name coming from? I see two threads on here using the term, but I've never seen it anywhere before.
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Old 07-22-10, 04:54 PM   #7
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I have heard that term for years. Some of us country folk would just about consider Atlanta HAIL, if I had to live there! Glad someone likes it, but sure not for me.
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Old 07-22-10, 07:35 PM   #8
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Where is this "Hell'Lanta" name coming from? I see two threads on here using the term, but I've never seen it anywhere before.
I picked it up from the other thread (by a native of the area I think), thinking it appropriate due to the heat.
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Old 07-22-10, 08:03 PM   #9
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Atlanta Adventure Day 3: A Ride Around Roswell

Roswell, an upper middle-class north Atlanta suburb, is officially a "bike friendly" community with lots of cyclists about and ubiquitous "Share the Road" signs. Many Roswell streets have shoulders that appear to pass for bike lanes (though that terminology may a bit generous... you can judge from the pictures) and area motorists are pretty careful to give clearance to bikes. The local bike routes (http://www.bikeroswell.com/ride-maps.html) are far from flat and do require crossing intersections and paying attention to traffic. Park Drive by the Chattahoochee River is semi-level and offers a bit of shade. A very sunny, hot and humid day plus the considerable hills made 23 miles a pretty decent workout for me. I did not take as many pics as I should have... sorry. I did enjoy riding in Roswell but would enjoy it much more on a cooler day.

Pics of the Silver Comet ride are coming next.
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Old 07-22-10, 09:15 PM   #10
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Its much more fun to ride in Ga when its not summer...

SCT is lots of fun out passed Dallas.. The signs that warn you that there are no services for miles (and little chance of non-critical emergency rescue) start just passed there.. there really is only a few places that you are more than 2-3 miles from a road...
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Old 07-23-10, 12:32 AM   #11
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Day 4: Heaven and Heck on the Silver Comet

Not used to the kind of hilly stop-and-go riding as I had been doing in the metro Atlanta area, I decided to try Georgia’s paved Silver Comet Trail. This would allow me to get out of the city, see some of the countryside and actually ride without putting my foot down for longer distances. My plan for the day was to drive out of Atlanta a bit to Dallas, GA and start at about mile 19 of the Trail headed west for the Alabama line. A round trip to Cedartown, GA and back would give me a 62 mile ride, more or less.

I checked in to my motel and located my target trailhead at the Paulding Chamber of Commerce and finally got started around 11:00 AM. The weather was cloudy and not overly hot, a circumstance that was to change dramatically during the ride. For about the first 20 miles to near the town of Rockmart I enjoyed some of the nicest paved trail I have ever seen: lots of shade, wide smooth pavement and gentle slopes and tunnels with lights in them. Several local roadie types and one family with kids were out riding in this stretch. I passed by cool little stream suitable for swimming, which two of the locals were in the process of enjoying. At this point I was mentally composing a “best trail ever!” post for BF 50+. This was all to change in the next 10 mile stretch to Cedartown.

Leaving the Rockmart area the Silver Comet Trail changes character completely. You are told by a sign that you are entering a “wild area” and that is certainly true. Shade becomes scarcer and this was made a more critical issue by the vanishing of all my cloud cover. The Georgia sun at 1:00 PM was not so plesant and I considered turning back more than once. But curiosity got the best of me and I continued on to see what was around the next curve. Anyway, how bad could eight or nine miles of rail-trail be?

It can be pretty bad, actually. The main features of the section west of Rockmart were extreme heat, complete solitude and, above all, a series of very steep and twisty hills. Most of these hills would have to be taken without momentum from the bottom (blind road crossings were at the bottom of several of them) and you did not know where the top was going to be. With my HR and core temperature getting dangerously high, I actually walked three or four of these both going out and returning. With a cooler day, fresh legs and more familiarity with the area that might have been different… but it was what it was. (My HR was in the 140s walking up these and it was not dropping below about 125 even stopping in the shade.) There was a very brief dog chase incident just outside of Cedartown… not terribly scary but still annoying.

Arrival in Cedartown, GA on the Silver Comet takes you through an extremely poor section of a rural Georgia town. Except perhaps in some sort of Faulkneresque way, it is not at all scenic. The term “gritty” comes to mind and some would surely not be completely comfortable riding alone through the area. I hit the first gas station with air conditioning and hung out for about 45 minutes guzzling cold water and Gatorade. No natives struck up a conversation, but none seemed hostile either.

The second 31 miles of the trip was pretty much the reverse of the first half: about ten miles of unpleasantness (and walking hills) followed by a really nice 20 miles. After about eight or nine miles of the return I came upon a group of three local (?) kids in cutoffs riding cheap bikes huddled by the trail. One of them was having heat-related difficulty. After making sure they had water and knew the way to the closest relief, I moved on. A couple miles later I stopped and soaked my feet in that previously discovered cool stream, where a large group of locals had now gathered. It seemed clear that some of them did not know exactly what to make of me but the vibe did not seem hostile. The last 15 miles or so were back through a much nicer and shadier environment, but they were slow going. My legs were now reminding me of all the hills I had ridden in the last four days and everything seemed just a little uphill. I was pretty glad to stop riding when I hit the Paulding Chamber Trailhead sign.

In summary, my ride on the Silver Comet was something of a clarifying experience, laced with a little bit of danger, reminding me that having the occasional adventure is one reason I like to ride. Though it may not seem so from this report, I enjoyed it very much and would do it all again. The trail west of Rockmart is completely different in character from the rest and should be avoided by inexperienced riders, especially on hot days. If I had not used caution I could have gotten into heat-related trouble. And a crash on one of those curvy hills without a friend to go for help would not have been good. I would much rather ride on that section with a companion and fresher legs next time.

On the other hand, the Silver Comet east of Rockmart to Dallas is lush and pretty easy. There are several trailheads and restrooms and a general suburban feel. It is manicured almost like a golf course with little birdhouses hanging in trees and pieces of art around some of the frequent rest areas. Wow, very nice! I loved it.

Full picture set: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/578208483iHDgcV

Direct link to slideshow: http://good-times.webshots.com/slide...78208483iHDgcV
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Last edited by billydonn; 07-23-10 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 07-27-10, 01:34 PM   #12
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Billy,
Thanks for the write-up. If you ever get a chance to do the Comet again, consider starting at the east end around Mableton and riding west about 25-thirty miles. It is much nicer, flat, rural and has a number of pleasant stops with facilities, snacks and even a small bike shop. Unless of course you can find your way to north GA around Dahlonega...then you will experience the gorgeous mountains where the Tour D'Georgia was run and some very nice roads. Just a few miles south of that area there are also a lot of great cycling roads that are more rolling than hilly.
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Old 07-27-10, 02:09 PM   #13
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Looks like a nice ride, even with the heat. Nice pictures. I have ridden that stretch a few times. We like to start at Florence Road, about 7 miles east of where you started at Paulding Chamber and ride to Rockmart and back. The Pumpkinvine trestle and the Brushy Mountain tunnel are nice features. Too bad nobody told you about one of the great Silver Comet traditions of stopping at Frankies in Rockmart. The section between Rockmart and Cedartown is unusual as it is the only part of the trail not on the railway grade. The depot in Cedartown is a good place to stop. It is nice and flat from Cedartown to the state line and on to Anniston, Alabama on the Chief Ladiga.
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Old 07-28-10, 08:00 AM   #14
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Billy,
Thanks for the write-up. If you ever get a chance to do the Comet again, consider starting at the east end around Mableton and riding west about 25-thirty miles. It is much nicer, flat, rural and has a number of pleasant stops with facilities, snacks and even a small bike shop. Unless of course you can find your way to north GA around Dahlonega...then you will experience the gorgeous mountains where the Tour D'Georgia was run and some very nice roads. Just a few miles south of that area there are also a lot of great cycling roads that are more rolling than hilly.
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Looks like a nice ride, even with the heat. Nice pictures. I have ridden that stretch a few times. We like to start at Florence Road, about 7 miles east of where you started at Paulding Chamber and ride to Rockmart and back. The Pumpkinvine trestle and the Brushy Mountain tunnel are nice features. Too bad nobody told you about one of the great Silver Comet traditions of stopping at Frankies in Rockmart. The section between Rockmart and Cedartown is unusual as it is the only part of the trail not on the railway grade. The depot in Cedartown is a good place to stop. It is nice and flat from Cedartown to the state line and on to Anniston, Alabama on the Chief Ladiga.
Thanks guys... I love these kinds of adventures, and the rest of the Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga is on my bucket list for sure. I shall return. The day I passed through, Rockmart had some sort of community festival going on that looked interesting but I pushed on in pursuit of my mission. I'm quite sure I did not see the best of Cedartown! Any forum members who are passing near this area should definitely spend a few hours on the Silver Comet!
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Old 07-28-10, 03:35 PM   #15
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When you do get back.. let me know and perhaps I will join you for all or part of the ride.. I usually ride from MM20 (the nice little park with facilities) to most the way to C-town MM45 for a 50 mile RT..
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