Sunday, July 24, 2011

Silver Comet

I had a good day with the girls today. We started the day off right, pounding three times our daily allowance of sugar at the Dutch Monkey, and then trying to burn some of that off throwing and kicking various balls around the park for a while. Kathryn even joined us. It seems like the kids can't take more than about 2 hours of that at a time though, so we got done before noon.

I tried calling Tim to see if he wanted to go ride tomorrow but he was in North Carolina getting ready for ORAMM. Oh yeah, ORAMM. I'm not ORAMM'ing this year, but practically everyone else I know is. My brother's out of town too. I didn't even get any takers on facebook. It'll be a lonely day tomorrow.

All that was back-burner though.

Our next stop today was the Silver Comet Trail. Or, more precisely, the Twisted Taco across the street from the start of the Silver Comet Trail.

 Twisted Taco

We probably hadn't burned off all those donut calories yet, but the donuts themselves were no longer filling our respective abdominal voids.

We were starving and the Twisted Taco alone could save us.

Post-tacos, as we got ready to actually ride, Iz noticed that she couldn't make her helmet fit any more. No kidding, it just wouldn't sit down far enough on her head. Fortunately, Smyrna Bicycles was two doors down from the taco shop. They hooked us up and now she's that proud owner of a new Giro that ought to last a couple of years.


We took off down the Silver Comet.

The girls actually watched the first week and a half of the Tour with me, I think mainly because it enabled them to stay up late, but eventually they got legitimately interested, asked me about ten thousand questions and even started pointing out things that I'd explained to them earlier. Who knows how long it'll be before this knowledge gets pushed out to make room for more important things, but for the time being, they seem to understand the concepts of drafting and rotation and today we took the opportunity to try it out for ourselves.

Not that you can get much of a draft off of a kid going under 10 miles an hour, but it was really interesting. I showed them how to do a team time-trial style rotation, where one rider pulls for a little while, then drops back and the next rider pulls until the previous one has fallen in at the back. They picked it up immediately and didn't have any trouble that I didn't see riders my age have last Wednesday in the Reality B1 group. Before long we were doing it without talking at all.

We flew through Smyrna and Mableton.

 Train Tunnel

Eventually they got tired of constantly shifting around though so we switched to long turns. One of us would pull for a few minutes before rotating back.

It was surprising how much slower we went.

There was no draft to speak of, but I guess all that rest they'd get dropping back made them punch it just that little bit when pulling through. When we took long turns, without the draft, it was just a steady, slow grind. The difference was really amazing.

The terrain had an interesting effect too. The Big Creek Greenway is twisty with varying grades, bridges, punchy climbs, boardwalks and other features. The Silver Comet is a dead-straight rail-trail with long, barely noticeable climbs and equally long, barely noticeable descents. Occasionally there's a road that you have to cross, or a new bridge that doesn't just use an old trestle but otherwise, it's pretty much straight and flat.

But it's not really flat, and the kids can push hard for a block or two, but on a mile long, steady, barely perceptible climb, they'd start struggling about halfway through. It confused them tremendously. Not realizing they were climbing, they felt like they were about to run out of gas entirely, but then a half mile later, they'd be fine again when the grade pitched almost undetectably down.

I remember having similar issues when I first moved here. I'd climb like the top was at that corner or that false-flat that I could see up ahead. It took me a while to learn to just assume that I'd be climbing all day. The girls have that concept down hiking, but it hasn't translated to the bike yet.

We consumed miles and miles of trail. We'd meant to ride out 10 and turn around, but somewhere in the middle of 9, they quit marking the miles and we ended up riding out about 12.

Just prior, we stopped at an intersection in Powder Springs for some water.

 Powder Springs Sign

There was a big, crazy bush there with hundreds of flowers and dozens of butterflies.


We counted four different species, but there might have been more. There were about half as many bees too, mainly Honeybees and Driller Bees.

The ride back was faster than the ride out. I'm not sure if it was net downhill or if it just seemed faster, but every time we looked up we'd ridden another half mile.

We alternated between quick turns and long turns and the girls got pretty good at it for a while.

We did have two classic chain reactions though, where the lead rider stopped pedalling and nearly crashed out the rider at the back. I'd been warning them all day about the danger of that, but it took a couple of close calls to make it clear. I seriously almost went down the first time, there was no time to think, it was just instinct and luck that prevented it. I'd have been more upset if I didn't see grown adults do the same thing every week.

At the very end, there's a tough climb up off of the Silver Comet proper to a connector trail, then you go around a bend, cross a street and then you're back at the lot. Since Sophie has no gears, I had to ride up and start pushing her at the halfway point. I kept looking back, and every time, Iz looked like she had it. Apparently though, she cracked just after the very last time I looked, right as we'd gone around the bend. She'd had to stop and walk, but when we went around the corner, she panicked, thought we'd cross the street without her and tried to run to catch up. Realizing that she didn't have the energy to run, she panicked even more. By the time she saw that we'd stopped, it was too late. She's already been breathing super hard and that last bit of panic had made her cry. While relieved that we'd waited, she could barely breathe and all we could do was wait until she either calmed down and caught her breath or passed out.

It reminded me of Sophie getting locked in the bathroom a few weeks back. It never fails to amaze me what they shrug off and it never fails to amaze me what terrifies them completely. Bears, snakes, 100 foot cliffs - who cares? Spider webs, broken locks and crosswalks - utter terror. I guess that's part of the charm of fatherhood. I am glad that Iz didn't pass out though.

After all that, we went swimming with my mom and their cousins at the pool in my brother's neighborhood.


Yay, swimming! Every ride this summer must end with a swim. It's a new North Georgia ordinance.

We grabbed some dinner at the Douglasville Diner. It was OK. The milkshake we split for desert was excellent. With three straws, it was gone in minutes.

On the way back, I had to get some gas and walking around the back of the car, I glanced up at the bikes and it triggered a sense-memory.

 End of the Day

Out all day, heading home, exhausted but happy, need to get some gas... bikes on the roof. You can't ride them now, but they're symbolic of the great time you'd been having and the how much you love the friends you'd been having it with. I have so many memories like that. In most of them, the other bike(s) belong to some riding buddies or my brother, or my dad, but this time it was Isabels. Today's wasn't the best ride ever, but that same feeling struck me and it was time spent with the girls I remembered so fondly. Someday they'll get tired of running around with me, but every day between now and then is a fist full of blessings. God, help me spend those blessings wisely.

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