Monday, March 26, 2012


I get these crazy ideas sometimes. A little voice tells me "that's crazy Dave" but I've learned to pay less and less attention to that voice. It seems to be wrong a lot. That voice is stupid. Technically it's my own voice though, I guess. My voice is stupid.

One such crazy idea was: "I should ride to downtown Atlanta for lunch one day." Why for lunch in particular? I don't know. There are a lot of good restaurants downtown, maybe in the back of my mind lunch just provided an excuse to do the ride.

I shelved the idea as silly for a while but little by little I discovered, purely by accident, a combination of roads and trails that could easily get me from Cumming to the perimeter and eventually it didn't seem so silly.

I've got a pile of such half-baked ideas but for some reason, last night, the "ATL for lunch" idea seemed like the right one to go for.

I set my alarm for 7AM but snoozed it until almost 9 without ever waking up enough to realize what I was doing. I left the house at about 9:30 but turned around before I even made it up my driveway, having forgotten my credit card, and forcing Kathryn to wake back up and open the door for me.

I had zero calories in my body at that point, so I fueled up at my favorite filling station.

 Bakery Porn

Dutch Monkey y'all. Dutch Monkey.

From there it was a quick trip down the road to the Alpharetta Greenway.


I expected it to be empty, but it seemed like everyone in the greater Atlanta Metro Area was out for their morning jog. I encountered them in clumps. Dense, impenetrable throngs of joggers, in-line skaters and cyclists. They weren't literally impenetrable though and I managed to get through. It's funny how much more noticeable they are when I don't have the kids with me. I guess together we just blend into the pile.

Not halfway to the end of the first section I pulled out my phone to take another photo and noticed my credit card was missing. Come on! I must have lost it when taking that last photo. Unless I actually took that one later. I get it mixed up now. Jeez. Now I'm going to have to cancel the card. I tried tonight actually but they're not open until tomorrow. Thankfully nobody appears to be emptying my account.

I had to either bail on the ride or call Kathryn and get her to meet me with my other card. I called Kathryn and made her wake up again. And drive. Poor Sophie wanted to come with her but she's having a hard time even moving around today after skinning her knees yesterday. They met me at the McFarland Lot and I could tell that Sophie had been crying. Poor little girl.

I was back on track though, jogged through Windward to the other section of Greenway and kept pushing south through even more denser throngs than before.

At Big Creek I hit the bathroom and topped off my bottles. I half considered spinning a lap around the pump track, but the last thing I needed was to break something and have to call Kathryn again. "Hey Kathryn, can you pick me up. I broke my bike... Screwing around." If I'd done that, she'd have probably just gone back to sleep, woken up naturally on her own, and only then picked me up.

I did notice a "Sleepy Hollow" beginner mountain bike loop while I was there. I'll have to check that out with the kids next time we're down that way.

Old Alabama got me even further south and it had a bike lane once I got south of Holcomb Bridge. I noticed Fresh Bike Service was closed. I couldn't find any spare tubes last night and hoped they'd be open. Fortunately I found them this morning.

I picked up the Riverside Trail on Riverside Road and shot the Hooch for a while.

 The Hooch

But again... the throngs. Plenty of riders just passed me on the road itself. The road might have been a better idea but I kind of wanted to utilize trails as much as possible. No idea why.

I think I took Willeo and Lower Roswell south from there. Again... glorious Bike Lanes.

 Bike Lane

Roswell advertises itself as a bike-friendly city. I saw several signs to that effect. They didn't screw around with the bike lanes, for sure. They're everywhere.

I hit my first bit of car traffic turning onto Johnson's Ferry.


Johnson's Ferry was a screaming downhill and about halfway down I cringed thinking about having to climb back up later.

Johnson's led to Columns Drive which also happened to have a bike lane and ten thousand joggers and cyclists using it. I have literally, in my life, never seen so many people out getting fit. If all I had to go on was what I'd seen today, I'd laugh at this whole obesity epidemic thing.

I guess the Johnson's Ferry unit of the Chattahoochee NRA is the chunk out at the end of Columns. I picked up a gravel trail there and kept pushing south.

 Gravel Trail

I didn't honestly know what that would be like. For all I knew, it might be technical singletrack. It's just marked as "Bike Trail" on the map. It turned out to be a 20 foot wide, groomed gravel fitness trail and it was as packed as the rest of the trails I'd been on all day.

After a quick couple of jogs to the left and right I crossed I-285.


It always feels weird to me to cross an Interstate. It just doesn't happen that often, and it seems epic when I do it.

I kept pushing soutn on Northside Drive. Ok. I live in the piedmont of the Appalachians and it gets hillier to the north until you finally hit the Blue Ridge itself, so I'd reasonably expect it to get less hilly south of my place. So far that had been the case, but not when I hit Northside Drive. Good god.

Northside is very hilly. As is Moore's Mill and Howell Mill. Again, I didn't suffer at that point, but I dreaded the return trip.

It seems like the hillier the area, the much nicer the homes they build there too.

 Dem Buckhead Cribs

Why is that? I can understand the exact same home being more expensive if it's built in a hilly area because it costs more to prep the site but why go all out? Is it maybe that hillier areas are also generally at higher elevation and the idea of living up high with all the riff-raff beneath you is intended to appeal to the wealthier class? Is it simply because the wealthy could afford homes up out of the flood zones way back? I want to know. There is certainly lower-lying property that has become valuable over the years but the houses there are old and small, the location is just sought after for some reason, usually proximity to something else. But if you look at new construction, it seems like the hillier the land, the much more opulent the homes. Why is this?

At the south end of Howell Mill, I caught my first glimpse of the spires of Atlanta.


That's a waste water treatment plant in the foreground.

Georgia Tech was just a few blocks away. I wove my way around campus, hoping to find some distinctly-Tech-looking building to grab a photo of but I knew where the dome was and I didn't feel like going way over there. The Rec Center would have to do.

 GA Tech Rec Center

That was all the route-planning that I'd actually done. I'd have to wing it from there. The night before when I asked Google where "Atlanta" was, it put a pin down by the Aquarium and the World of Coke. I figured if I was riding to "Atlanta", I'd better actually go to "Atlanta".

The Aquarium:

 GA Aquarium

World of Coke:

 World of Coke

I recommend trips to each, BTW. The Aquarium is awesome, as aquariums tend to be. The World of Coke is crazy. Crazy-good and also just crazy-crazy.

I stopped by Centennial Park too for a nature break. There were so many people running around there, I actually brought my bike into the bathroom with me, though not into the stall itself.

There were a ton of kids playing in the fountain.

 Centennial Fountains

It might have been cyanide for all I wanted to join them. I never want to get wet on the road bike for some reason.

From there I meandered east until I found Inman Park.

From reading this journal, a person might conclude that the only three restaurants that I even know of in the Atlanta Metro Area are The Dutch Monkey, Doc Chey's and the Highland Bakery. I'm not sure the Dutch Monkey actually counts as a restaurant proper, but it's close enough for the purposes of this paragraph. In truth, I eat all over the place and I love finding new restaurants and sampling local flavor, but my family doesn't really go for that, so when we're all together and in the vicinity of one of those places, we often go there.

Now, having said that, and I swear it is true, what was on my mind as I rode around today completely counters it. Specifically, despite being by myself and having the entire ATL to choose from, the only reason I didn't go to Doc Chey's is because the girls and I ate at there yesterday. In lieu of, I made my way directly to the Highland Bakery.

Either unfortunately for my plans, or fortunately for the sake of variety, if The Highland Bakery is open, then it will take 45 minutes to be seated and I didn't have that much time to spare.

I'd always wanted to go across the street though and eat at this place, appropriately named, "Across the Street", so that's what I did.

I don't think that I'm really young enough or cool enough to eat there. A lot of Atlanta restaurants are just so burstingly popular that they have to let anyone in. But, at some places, they let you in if you're clean and well-groomed, but to fit in well you really should be a character of some kind. Or, I guess more specifically, a representation of a character of some kind, but not the actual character. I was, for example, quite a character - wearing a cycling kit, riding in on a bike, and really looking like I'd ridden there from Cumming. That is WAY too literal. A more appropriate cycling persona would have been clean and well groomed, wearing fashionable, everyday clothes but with short, well-styled hair inspired by the haircut that a hardcore cyclist might wear but not the literal, short, all-business haircut that we often wear. A tee shirt from the Fools Gold might complete the look, but only if I hadn't already worn it to a dozen work parties and races and gone hiking and/or riding thousands of miles in it. Also, I would need to be about 13 years younger. Or at least, all of that is the impression that I've gotten over the years.

Nobody was seated inside, everyone was on the patio. They were not busy, but I stood at the "Please wait for a hostess to seat you" sign for like 5 minutes. The owner/manager sat me though, seemed to be really nice AND let me sit where I could keep an eye on my bike, since I didn't have a lock. One of the waiters kept getting this really shocked look on his face and kept hurrying past me though. My waiter didn't come out for 10 minutes or more, but then he was all friendly when he did. It was odd - a lot of mixed messages. The food though, was worth just about any amount of uncomfortable confusion.


 Across The Street's Enchiladas

That sauce they put on those enchiladas is primo. It was on par with La Fonda, maybe even a little better.

I will eat there again. Maybe I am cool enough and they were just having an off day. Who knows?

As awesome as that food looks, it tasted even better, but as ride fuel goes, it wasn't really the best choice, and it made a rock in my stomach for the next two hours.

No matter!

I rode to Atlanta for lunch, and damnit, THAT was a proper lunch given the effort I put in to have it.

I cleaned my plate. Big time. And I sat there satisfied as one can be only after having ridden a long way and eaten a great meal, outside, in nice weather. To the naked eye, it might seem that I had successfully carried out my crazy plan, but "the eye that has brains" would know better.

I still had to get home.

To describe the return trip as "more difficult than the trip down" would be accurate and perhaps even a bit of an understatement. Those hills that I dreaded earlier were even more difficult than I expected. Climbing up off of Columns Drive, I was standing, in my smallest gear, for like 5 eternities. It was endless on top of endless. That and Old Alabama. Some dude even passed me on Old Alabama though, so it wasn't just the hill. I was tired.

On Windward, I stopped at a gas station for a little real fuel.


Lunch seemed to have been working its way through my stomach and I figured I could put something else in. I don't know if it helped, but the break was nice.

When I left the house, the sun was decidedly "low in the eastern sky" and when I got back, it was decidedly "low in the western sky". I have no idea how many miles it was. Definitely more than 100. It took about 10 hours but that included a lot of riding around, looking at stuff downtown, and of course, an hour or so for lunch.

All right, one more crazy idea, scratched off of the list.

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