Ever since I spent a day on the Great Allegheny Passage just outside of Pittsburgh I have thought a lot about bike touring, particularly on Rails-To-Trails type destinations and in particular more of that great landmark. I have been yearning to spend days out on my bike exploring the country via two wheels.
Well Pittsburgh is a bit of a drive and so is Cumberland, MD at the other end of the trail. Plus the surface of that trail is mostly crushed limestone, not the most suitable for my dear Cessna (aka my Scott Contessa road bike). So I started looking into closer options. I had never been on an overnight on my bike and decided I needed to find somewhere to start. Looking around on the great internet I found it! The Silver Comet trail! It starts in Smyrna, GA just outside of Atlanta and runs to the Alabama state line then connects with the Chief Lagida trail and continues to Anniston, AL. The whole length of the two being about 100 miles. Perfect!
Now I needed to do some planning and a little bit of training. I have never had to carry much of a load when I rode before, nonetheless to plan on carrying a load for many many miles. So I started researching everything I could about these trails and got to work on prepping my bike for a trip.
I didn’t have any money to spend on gear so I went with what I had. I took the rack off my commuter and with my trunk bag and one pannier (yes I only have one….working on my Christmas wish list now) started thinking about what I really needed to bring. I started riding with the added load and found hills to be a definite challenge! Thankfully the trip I was planning had minimal hills, although one section of some good hills but other than that pretty flat, nice change from home!
So the longest distance I had ridden up to this trip was 52.5 miles and yet I was planning two days of about 65 miles each day. My 52.5 mile trip had been on the Blue Ridge Parkway climbing up towards Mt. Pisgah and this trip was pretty unexciting as far as elevations were concerned. I figured I needed to challenge myself but not do anything too stupid so it seemed reasonable. Still it was a little daunting planning a trip in which I exceeded my top ever mileage, not one, but two days in a row!
Oh and I don’t think I have mentioned yet but I was planning this trip as a solo excursion. Feel free to give me all that “safety in numbers” stuff and whatever but I am a risk taker. It is a big part of my personality. Independence and stubbornness are part of my personality too. Qualities I quite like in myself. I have been on a bit of solo trip quest for the last year and a half. I find it rewarding and a bit of therapy for me so it makes sense that riding my bike, which I already consider therapy coupled with a solo trip would be something I desired.
I definitely was getting excited, a little anxious, a little nervous and could not wait for this trip! I needed the time away from my normal world and I needed some quality time alone with Cessna. Ahhhh…life is good.
Stay tuned for part 2 but here is a song that came on my Ipod while riding and being a Beck fan and my mood at the moment this song was ideal.