August 22, 2016 – Partly cloudy, 80 degrees
Miles Today: 78
Miles to Date: 14,941
States to Date: 41
My host, Ali, and I went to mile zero of the Silver Comet Trail, the biggest bicycle trailhead I’ve seen. Even on a Monday morning, the place was crowded with people and bikes, skateboarders and pet walkers. The hype about this trail is well deserved. Ali rode with me through the busiest portion, but since the trail is wide and smooth, it’s easy to navigate. After he turned back home, the natural beauty of riding through tall forest continued, as did the excellent condition of the trail.
Around mile fifteen the pavement turns to concrete, which has more friction but turns out to be a good surface for a trail that’s in constant shade in a region of frequent rain. Despite today’s ideal conditions many wet areas remained from yesterday’s thunderstorms.
The first thirty miles follow an old railroad grade; slopes are minor and I stayed in high gear. Then the trail parallels, sort of, an active rail line with steep rises and fast descents. This far from the city there was no traffic in either direction or at any cross street, so I kept a pace that was both safe and exciting.
At the Alabama state line, the trail returns to a former railroad right-of-way and Silver Comet becomes the Chief Ladiga Trail. The surface returns to blacktop, the path narrows to six feet wide, and the grade descends steady for almost twenty miles into Piedmont. Forests give over to small farms and distant foothills. It’s a scenic, yet easy ride.