Every cloud has a silver lining - Garfield and Tango Travel the Long and Winding Road - CycleBlaze

April 21, 2022

Every cloud has a silver lining

Georgia bike day

Today was a much better day all around - warmer temps, sun and Don felt good enough to try a ride on Garfield! But he didn't get out of bed until nearly 9 am, so by the time he'd had his coffee and woke up enough to decide what he wanted to do, it was almost 11 am.

We loaded up the tandem in the truck and drove to a trailhead on the Silver Comet Trail. It took us over an hour to reach the parking lot since we had to circle all the way around Atlanta to the west side. 

Don had researched possible start points and selected one that was closest to a trestle and tunnel. We knew we wouldn't be doing any more sections of the trail on this trip, so we wanted the most bang for the buck.

It had been a little overcast during the morning but the sun was breaking through the clouds by the time we got on the trail and headed west. We immediately liked the Comet with its smooth wide concrete surface, nice benches and most important of all - FLAT! (well, there were a couple slight changes in elevation along the way, but they were pretty mild compared to what's in Stone Mountain Park).

The trail was built along the Silver Comet passenger line that was operated by the Seaboard Airline Railroad. It provided luxury accommodations  - sleeper, dining and observation cars - for travelers from New York to Birmingham, AL starting in 1947.

When rail travel began to decline, the company discontinued the sleeper, dining and observation cars, and added freight along with the passengers. Eventually the trains only carried freight. 

The railroad closed the line in 1989 where in 1992, it was purchased by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Originally the plan was for future transit expansion but instead it was decided to turn the rail corridor into a multi-use trail. 

Completed a few years later, the Silver Comet travels west from Smyrna, GA to the Alabama border where it connects to the Chief Ladiga Trail. At a total of about 91 miles, the combined trails make it the longest paved rail trail in the US. The longest one is the Paul Bunyan Trail in Minnesota.

At first we could see a few homes through the trees, but then the trail entered a wildlife management area and we were plunged deep into the woods. It was a pretty area with lots of tiny wildflowers and many different trees. I wish I knew more about Eastern trees - I can ID some oaks and pines, but not the other ones. 

We traveled over the Pumpkinvine Trestle which is 750 ft. long and over 126ft. high. There was a nice view of the surrounding countryside which was still quite hilly. 

Even though it was a Thursday, there were quite a few other cyclists and walkers on the trail. It was nice to see that people were using this wonderful amenity! 

I read later that the eastern end of the Silver Comet will eventually connect to the Atlanta Beltline trail system. Expected completion is 2022. The 52 mile section between Smyrna and Cedartown is part of US Bike Route 21 which starts in Cleveland, Ohio, and travels through Kentucky and Georgia. 

Don was feeling good and we were enjoying the scenery when a cyclist on a Cruzbike recumbent rode up next to us and slowed to talk. Steven knew us from our CrazyGuy journals and had followed us for years - WOW - we're famous! 

He had recognized us even though we're now riding a different tandem and welcomed us to Georgia.  We chatted for awhile about touring, which he hasn't done yet and I gave him the info about this website. 

After this pleasant encounter, Steven zoomed on and we followed at our slower pace. A few more miles took us to our turn around point at the entrance to the Brushy Mt. Tunnel. We'd brought our light with us just in case, but it wasn't that long of a tunnel as you could easily see the other end. 

However, Don didn't want to take the bike through as there was a lot of water inside. We don't have fenders on Garfield and anytime we pass through puddles, the front wheel splashes water up onto my legs or higher, depending on our speed. Plus the surface could be slick. Nope, don't want to crash!

We'd done enough for today and there was still another 8 miles or so to go to get back to the truck. Maybe another year we can explore more of this trail. At over 60 miles, there would be lots of options to choose from. Maybe even some old depots to see. 

The return went quickly and before we knew it, we had reached the truck. Don loaded up the tandem and we headed back to Stone Mountain Park. 

As it was after 3 pm, rush hour had started, making the drive take nearly 2 hours. Ugh, I was sure glad when we got home! 

Don didn't feel like grilling, but he was up for eating out. So we quickly put the bike away and changed our clothes, then went to a seafood place I had researched - the Bay Breeze. It had good reviews and the menu showed a mix of different fish with enough other options to make Don happy. 

Despite it being after 5, the place wasn't busy (maybe a sign??). I ordered broiled grouper and Don had fettuccini alfredo. However, I was very unhappy when the fish was brought to the table. 

I had specifically requested that it not be cooked with very much oil but it was literally swimming in oil. In addition, it looked like it had been dusted with some type of red seasoning. I took a couple of small bites and found that it was so spicy hot and oily that there was NO WAY I could eat it!

Don thought it looked like cayenne pepper had been used as a seasoning but there wasn't anything on the menu stating that the fish was cooked with any specific seasoning. You could get it blackened, cajun or with lemon pepper on top which I considered, but declined.

Anyway, I had to return it and ended up with a grilled chicken salad. By the time the new food got to me, Don was done with his pasta, so it was after 7 when we got back to camp. 

What a disappointment! I don't know if we just went to the wrong place, but I'll have to be cautious about trying any other restaurants in the future. I really would like to eat some more seafood on our trip, especially when we're closer to the coast like in Charleston. Maybe I'll have Don pick the next place! 

But overall, Don said his feet and back felt better after the ride and drive which was a plus. Hopefully, he'll soon be back to normal dance/bike activities.

Nice signage on the Silver Comet Trail. We also noticed these signs indicating trailhead locations along the highway that we took to get to our start.
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The Pumpkinvine Trestle.
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Much of the trail section we did was similar to this. Deep rocky cuts and thick trees.
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We enjoyed visiting with Steven - riding a cool Cruzbike 'bent.
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The Brushy Mt. Tunnel. Not too long but there were puddles of water inside so we passed on going through today. It did look like it had lights so maybe you wouldn't need a headlight on your bike.
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Garfield and my captain. They matched today!
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A new wildflower along the trail.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like fire pink.

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3 weeks ago
Quite the construction on this bridge over the trail.
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Today's ride: 17 miles (27 km)
Total: 169 miles (272 km)

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