The Silver Comet Trail

I’ve lived in Georgia for a little over 4 years.  I live about 7 miles from a seemingly endless trail called the “Silver Comet Trail”.  In the four years that I have lived here, I have ridden on the Comet countless times.  I’ve also heard local cyclist complain about the Comet way more times than I care to recall.  It is in the defense of the Comet that I write this post.  Allow me to answer to many of the critical things I have heard about the Comet:

It is boring!
Seriously kids, let’s get real here.  You can go ride down a road and risk your life or be “bored” on the Comet.  How about, instead of driving your $5000 bike to the trail head, you spice up your ride with a little ride TO the Comet and enjoy the peace and quiet on the trail.  Consider it an escape from reality – you can truly be alone and doing something you enjoy out there.

It is dangerous!
You are probably talking about the 3 incidents related to “violence” on the trail.  In one of them (the most tragic) a woman was stalked and ultimately murdered.  This is TERRIBLE and I don’t want to downplay that incident in any way.  I feel terrible every time I see the cross.  This was a very isolates incident – not a random act of violence.  In two other unrelated incidents, idiots tried to rob a cyclist.  Yeah… because we carry SO much money!  I heard a cycling “coach” one time telling a bunch of beginning cyclist that he wouldn’t ride the Comet without “packing heat”.  Get real!  In 32 years of cycling, I have never needed to pull a gun on ANYBODY much less some high school thugs on a bike path! Ride the trail at commonly used times – you will have no problem!

It’s too crowded!
I rode 12 miles on the Comet yesterday afternoon and saw 5 people.  I didn’t pass ANYBODY!  (Yeah, I’m old fat and slow, but seriously)  There was nobody out there.  I’ve commuted (7:30 am & 5:30 pm) and have never had any real issues with congestion.  The weekends can be busy, but come on – ENJOY the excitement of seeing HUNDREDS of people engaged in healthy activity – or go to Waffle House and watch them get fat – you decide.  I recently rode on the W&OD trail in Virginia – I thought they were similar – the Comet is SO MUCH NICER!

It is dangerous in a group!
The GROUP is making it dangerous for everybody.  Slow down, shift down, spin and SHARE THE DAMN TRAIL!  Sharing a trail with healthy minded people on 25 pound bikes sounds a LOT better than getting bullied by 2500 pound cars… maybe you enjoy that?

I guess my point is that we, in the #ATL have a tremendous resource right in our backyard.  We can use it whenever we want for free.  If you don’t want to use it, don’t be a dumbass and say negative things about it!  It’s a great place for beginning cyclist to get used to riding.  Younger cyclist to ride with people.  It’s cooler in the summer (from the shade), its smooth, limited intersections (Powder Springs and west) and most of all – it’s FREE!  Be nice to the Comet or I’ll shoot you with a snot rocket!

 

 

Tour de Cure

Wow – what a weekend!  This is a weekend that actually started a few years back.  My sister told me that she wanted to get into cycling.  Her and her husband started shopping for bikes.  They bought bikes with the intention (at least partially) of riding the Tour de Cure.  I worked with them on the shopping process, I offered suggestions, comments, concerns and help where every I could.  Finally – the rubber hit the road – literally.  Shawna and Brad started training for their rides and building a team on the Tour de Cure website.  Was I excited about riding a century 600 miles from home?  Oddly – sort of.  It was a long drive, but hey – it was for a good cause.  I’ve done a lot stupider things to ride/race a bicycle – at least this one had some meaning. 

Shawna (and Brad) worked their asses off for the better part of 6+ months to get ready for this thing.  Shawna took off in a cow-poo smelling region and took on hills on a regular basis.  She went on group rides.  She drove all the way to Atlanta to go on a long ride and get some coaching – only to find the crappiest day in a month to ride.  Four hours in the rain later – she finished her first metric century.  She managed to get a cold (that I think she gave to me now) and STILL trained through it.  Did I mention along the way – she managed to convince 8 other people to wear custom jerseys, all delivered in nice backpacks filled with shwag?  Her on the bike efforts are probably overshadowed, leading up to the event by the $6000+ dollar she got us to raise and or the free stuff she handed us!

Now – a certain Whine and Cheese party rider is about to get a little amunition to used against me – She lined up for what supposed to be a rolling century.  The hills were rolling – but the “South Loop” was a ball buster.  That was one heck of a hard loop.  Shawna some how managed to crash in the first 3 miles, but was INISTANT that she was fine.  Barely letting me safety check her bike, she just wanted to get going.  She gutted it out!  I rode side by side with her on all the south loop hills before going back to find said whine and cheese party.  She never really complained.  Took a rest and took off on her mission – Shawna was going to finish this century. 

After confering with the team members – I set off on my quest to catch up to Shawna.  I may have ridden harder, I may have ridden faster – but the next 20 miles that Shawna basically rode alone were absolutely craptastic miles.  She did them largely alone – except for the stalker guy that was trying to gain weight at rest stops… There were times I was sure I was lost… I know she felt the same way.  I was very happy to roll up to her after and ABSOLUTELY HUGE hill.  She was hurting, she was tired – but she kept going.  Almost engergizer bunny like…. She knew the secret of finishing the century – JUST KEEP PEDALLING!

We got back to the trail and her voice sounded better.  She sounded better.  She knew the “End was near”.  I did my best to be a domestique, trying to float my pace and pull her back down to Reston.  We got to an stupid street fair that had the trail closed (great planning morons….)  I just tried to lead her through that.    When we got back to Reston – she tried to crash again – but her smile got her though it!  She was 1/4 mile from finishing the ride.  She had completed her 100+ miles. 

I had the DISTINCT pleasure of watching Shawna finish that ride and I was unbelievably proud of her!  There are harder centuries, there are longer rides, heck… I rode longer, but Shawna did it and that rocked. 

Now – I feel REALLY bad not giving credit to the others on the team – so I want to mention a few people… Dorrie wins the teammate of the year award for staying with David.  That showed true friendship and a great caring person.  Sorry you guys didn’t get the full 100 – but you will, someday!  Bill gets an honorary mention for rolling up and riding with Brad – a brotherly bond brought together on a bicycle as well.  I don’t know Marsha and her friend too well, but they committed to doing the ride.  Sheri – she complained more than one could imagine – but after “aborting” the normal course, Sheri went and finished off her 100 miles solo – on the bike trail.  For that I am proud.  Brad… you did it man!   That’s awesome.  The only type 2 on the team, you sorted it all out and made it happen!  Now – lets get training…. Team Type 2 needs some people for RAAM!  😉  And…. FINALLY …. many of you don’t know how many people my Dad saved from going the wrong way…. but it was about a bunch!  It was great to know we had somebody out there that could help – and knew what bicyclist need in life! 

If you read this far … I hope I conveyed how utterly proud I am of Shawna and the rest of the team.  It was a great day for me and I thank all who made it possible!

Team Harrell - Tour de Cure Team