Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Paved Trails of Cobb County

The road bike lives again!

My Dad and/or Mom come to town every few months, and one such instance of this occurred last week. My Dad and I actually rode with Billy at Allatoona Creek last Sunday, but sadly I failed to take comprehensible photos, and failed to write about it, unless you count this sentence as writing about it. It was an excellent ride though, and an excellent visit all around, but I think that I'm beginning to digress...

My Dad has been in possession of my brother John's old Cannondale for several years. When John got his most recent road bike, he bequeathed the old Cannondale to my Dad, who rode it like 4 times, decided he'd rather stick to the mountain bike, and parked it in his garage. A few months back, I needed wheels, so my Mom brought me the wheels off of that bike. More recently my shifter crapped out and my Dad just went ahead and brought the entire hulk with him on this visit, from which I stole the shifter.

So came to pass the resurrection of the road bike.

Figuring I ought to actually ride it this weekend, I got up moderately early Saturday morning and headed west on the Silver Comet. The "paved trails" of the greater Metro Atlanta area are on The List, I hadn't ridden most of them, and I'd be damned if that was going to continue.

First up... Out past Powder Springs, there's this boardwalk-looking thing perpendicular to the Comet. The heck is it? I would know.

Turns out, it's the Lucille Trail.

Lucille Trail Lucille Trail Boardwalk

It leads from Powder Springs up to Shipp Road, and ends abruptly there.

Lucille Trail Lot

They basically paved the right-of-way for the sewer/drainage system and called it a trail. I love those. The county wins because now they have paved access to the system. The people win because there's this scenic place to run/walk/ride, usually up along some creek. Nature wins because the corridor is rendered sustainable after years of expanding mud holes, questionably legal user created trails and ad-hock fords. The contractors win because they get to build something and get paid for it. Wins all around.

The trail was well built and scenic. Sadly it was also short. Maybe they'll extend it north someday. It looks like there's plenty more right-of-way up there.

Ok, so now I know where that goes.

Next, I backtracked a bit and headed north on Old Mountain Road. I've noticed a trail along Dallas Highway, for years, but I never noticed where it started or ended. After a few miles on the road though, I found the start, or at least the west end of it.

The trail followed the south side of Dallas Highway for a few miles. I call it a trail, but it's really just kind of a wide sidewalk. There were several other people out jogging and riding on it though, and it does keep you out of traffic, but it's cement, the expansion joints get tiring after a while, you still have to stop for every stoplight, and I'd honestly rather just ride on the shoulder of the road.

It ended abruptly at Cheatham Road. It seemed like I'd seen another section of it to the east, but I had another trail in mind and I gave it up there.


I'd also long seen something looking like a trail running up along Barrett Parkway, so I spun back and headed north along said Parkway until I found it.

It starts randomly. The sidewalk just quadruples in width, and bam: bike trail.

Turns out that it's the West Cobb Trail. It doesn't do much, other than parallel Barrett Parkway, but it is blacktop, and if you're heading north, it's better than riding on the shoulder of the road.

Somewhere up by Kennesaw Mountain it crosses the road and becomes the Noonday Creek Trail.

West Cobb Trail

Now, this trail is interesting. It has like 12 different personalities.

I followed it northeast as far as I could, and every mile or so it transformed into something completely different.

There was blacktop along the highway, followed by several little jaunts through the woods, ...

Noonday Creek Trail

..., and then it appeared in a few spots like they just declared the sidewalk to be a trail. Then there was some boardwalk, and several really nice bridges. One crossed Noonday Creek itself and afforded views of this beaver pond.

Beaver Pond on Noonday Creek

I guess that's a beaver pond.

It's funny though, right there, they were doing construction on the trail and there were "Trail Closed" signs all over the place. They meant to close about 100 feet of it, but the signs said "Trail Closed" on both sides, and the one placed after the construction made it look like the trail beyond the construction was also closed. This seemed unlikely, but I didn't understand until I realized that the sign said the same thing on both sides. I actually stood there for like 15 seconds working all of this out. If this description sounds confusing, then good. That means I have successfully communicated the state of mind I had at the time.

The trail wound around on the north side of the creek for a while, then ended abruptly at Bells Ferry Road.

Noonday Creek Trail Lot

Aw, man. I was kind-of hoping it went all the way to Woodstock or something, but no such luck.

With not much else to do but backtrack, I backtracked.

Near Kennesaw Mountain, I was out of water. Though it wasn't hot in the absolute sense, it was definitely a much hotter day than it'd been, and I felt like a little Gatorade might do some good. The Kangaroo convenience store on the corner hooked me up, but "strange things were afoot at the" Kangaroo.

The first was this guy walking toward me as I rolled up to the door wearing jeans and a long sleeve flannel hoodie, with the hood pulled up over his head and his hands in the front pocket. My first thought was "This guy's going to rob the place" but then he pulled his hands out and pulled the hood off as he approached the door. Maybe it had occurred to him that he looked like he was going to rob the place too. My next thought was something like "What equatorial country is this guy from?" I was sweating so profusely that I couldn't effectively wipe it off, I'd drained two water bottles, and felt like I needed to replenish some electrolytes. In the same conditions, this guy couldn't stay warm enough!

I noticed the other strange thing as I left the store. There was a convertible in the parking lot with the top down and the windows down, radio on, and two kids alone in the car singing along with the level of enthusiasm that can only be felt when insufficiently supervised: "Don't start no sh*t, won't be no sh*t!" Ha! Time to go.

But instead of taking Barrett Parkway, I hauled up over Kennesaw Mountain.

Turns out that's where the Noonday Creek Trail starts. Right there at Stilesboro Road. The trail heading down the other side of the mountain is the Mountain to River Trail, though it's actually signed as the "Mountain River Trail" without the "to".

That ended unceremoniously off Tower Road up by the hospital.

I weaved around until I found the square and eventually took Atlanta Road south.

There's another chunk of trail on Atlanta Road, so I rode that too. It's actually a nice bit of trail. It runs along the railroad tracks, it's paved with blacktop, lined with various decorative trees...

I had to cross Atlanta Road near Windy Hill though, and at the stoplight I saw one of the more unusual sights that I've seen in a while.

People leave all kinds of strange things on their back bumpers, and remarkably these things don't fall off. I've mostly seen soda cans and paper cups from Burger Kind or something, but I've also seen wrenches and other odd things. A few months back, my nephew actually left his cell phone on his grandma's bumper. She drove like 10 miles all over town and it was still there when she got back home.

This is one of the more unusual things that I've seen though:

Knife on the Back Bumper

A steak knife.

I considered notifying the occupants of the vehicle, but I wasn't confident that they spoke English. I struggled with how to say it in Spanish, and realized that I had no idea. I realized that even in Portuguese, the best I could do is "There's a knife behind your car." Can you imagine some random guy knocking on your window and telling you that?

Turned out that even if I had the words, I wouldn't have had time to communicate them. The light turned green and they sped off, with the knife still clinging to the bumper.

I took the Comet back toward the house and had to wait a few minutes for the train at Nickajack.

Train at Nickajack Road


Good ride. I was good and tired, but I'd taken it easy and it'd been a nice, relaxing day.

I'd brought my GPS with me though, and when I pulled the data off of it, it turned out that I'd ridden almost 70 miles. Wow, I had gotten back home later than I expected. I guess that explains why.

This used to happen to me on the mountain bike all the time. I'd get to wandering around and "where does this go" would turn into "man, it's getting dark" and "ohh, the only way back to the car is up Winding Stair".

Nice to get a little bit of that back in my life.

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