Monday, March 5, 2012

Silver Comet

The girls and I got up at a decent hour today and headed west directly. We had about 15 more miles of Silver Comet left between our last stop and the Alabama line and all day long to get it done.

We parked at the Grady Lot and we could tell right away that it was going to be a long day. Out past Rockmart, the trail diverges from the old railbed, I think mainly because that section of the rail is still in use. Just past Grady, the terrain changes abruptly from the shallow grades of a rail corridor to more typical north Georga hills and the Silver Comet rolls right over a nice set of them.

 Hilly Silver Comet

The girls both had to walk the first two and I realized that they didn't understand how to use their little rings. I tried explaining it but it didn't seem to sink in and before they had another chance to try, we were done with the hills. Just afterwards, a sign said 15.4 miles to the Alabama line. Isabel was, at that point, excited about the possibility of actually making it to Alabama during that ride and it became our goal. It was a little ambitious, but they've ridden 28 before, what's a few more?

A few miles later though, with numb fingers, Iz was backing way off of that goal. Given how warm it had been the day before, it was now surprisingly cold. Standing around, especially in the sun, it was great... probably 50-55 degrees, but it was very cloudy, thus windy, and the sun was most often hidden. Iz appears to generally have poor circulation to her fingers and toes. Sophie and I were fine. Iz also has no gloves. She's already outgrown her last pair. I didn't need my gloves, but they were way too big for her.

The solution?

The Solution!

 Glove Modifications

Duct-tape fixes everything.

Unfortunately it only helped a little. Instead of numb, her fingers became cold and painful. While that's better for you, it's way worse for how you feel.

I think, about 5 miles in, we rolled through Cedartown. The Cedartown Depot was all cute and historic.

 Cedartown Depot

The rest of Cedartown was kind of depressing though. Everything was vandalized.

 Cedartown Vandalism

That post was actually in the best shape as it still had the metal signage on it. On the others, it had been removed entirely. There broken windows on every building and dealers on the corner.

The trail through town was a little confusing too and twice Iz just kept going straight when she needed to have turned. Sophie still doesn't seem to realize that she has brakes either and the one time that Iz did make the turn, Sophie just screamed and T-boned her, in the middle of the street.

Eventually I took the lead and got us through town. We took a snack break under a bridge, out of the wind, by a little creek where, judging from the dried-up corn everywhere, people appeared to fish sometimes. Iz had been bonking hard for the past few miles and it recharged her a bit, but she wasn't "strong" by any stretch. Those first couple of hills really ate her up. More so than Sophie even.

We rode out to the next lot and turned back from there. I led through Cedartown again and we did fine until we had to wait for ten minutes on a train that was stopped in the middle of town.

 Waiting on the Train

Fortunately the sun had come out so we actually warmed up a bit while we waited. A watched pot never boils and a watched train never seems to move, but no, wait, eventually we heard a distant hum and the chain reaction of ...bang Bang BANG BANG!!! BANG Bang bang... as the engines pulled the slack out of the couplers and to our surprise, the train did, in fact, begin to move.

From there, the ride back was smooth and easy, for the most part.

Iz does have this bad habit of shifting down to climb, rolling down the back of the hill, then not shifting back up at all on the flats, assuming she'll catch up on the next hill, and then complaining if we get too far ahead. Often enough, there are road crossings too, that we could just roll through if she was close, but since she's way off the back, we have to wait, and it seems like there's always a car, waiting for us to cross while we wait for Iz. No good!

And also Sophie just really needs to learn that she has brakes. She only seems to forget when it's important though. She uses them unconsciously all the time, but then if Iz slows down in front of her she just screams and says "What do I do, what do I do?" You use your brakes. I guess it's like when people confuse their gas pedal and brakes in a car. I've never, ever, ever, ever done that and it seems inconceivable to me, but apparently people do it all the time, though only when it's very important not to. I remember that big issue with Toyota way back... "The cars accelerate uncontrollably out of nowhere!" then they pulled the black box data and in every instance the gas pedal was depressed all the way. Yeah. I always half-wondered if the whole thing was a Toyota PR stunt to show off their new black boxes, but I digress...

Eventually we got back to those same hills that crushed us early on. This time, well ahead of the first hill, I got the girls to stop and shift into their little rings. They climbed the first hill easily. Then they shifted back. For the second one, I gave them instructions as we rode and they didn't have to stop, but again, climbed the hill easily. On the third, they did it on their own. And so it was that the Muse children learned the secrets of the granny gear.

(angelic choir)

I don't believe we had to walk any of those hills, though toward the end, Sophie did seem to forget entirely that she had any gears at all. I guess some things aren't intuitive yet and she forgets them when she's under stress. Like, for example, how she forgot to look for cars as we crossed the very last road, though she'd otherwise done it perfectly all day. I always ride up and make sure well ahead of time myself, but still, come on. It's nervewracking.

Well, the ride went infinitely better than the last one, but we still didn't make it to Alabama. Kathryn will be out of town again this upcoming weekend though, so we might get it done then.

We'd stopped at a gas station just before we started the ride for some recovery fuel and we had two options:

 Snack Options

My kids love spicy food. Iz even gets acid reflux sometimes but she still loves it. We opted for the just plain Freakin Hot and saved the Really Freakin Hot for next time. It was delicious and we had fun eating it. If we get to Alabama, our reward will consist of chemical burns, indigestion... and glory.

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