Trail fail - Garfield and Tango Travel the Long and Winding Road - CycleBlaze

April 15, 2022

Trail fail

Georgia bike day

A cold front had moved through the area last night so it was only in the 40's this morning. It took until nearly noon before it had warmed up. But at least it was sunny. The previous few days have started out overcast.

My legs felt sufficiently recovered from my ride yesterday and I decided to give it cycling another go. Don felt a little better, enough that he could go to the store with me, but not willing to try biking or dancing yet. 

We ran the errand at the grocery store and by the time we got back, it was nice enough to ride. Don had researched the Stone Mountain Trail which is a paved path that goes about 20 miles from Atlanta to Stone Mountain Park. He had located where it ended in the park and I thought I would check it out. Maybe it would be flat!

I headed back out on the road by the campground. This time I knew the deal with all of the ups and downs, so I could anticipate when I had to downshift. I suppose I could have had Don load up my bike and drop me off at the parking lot near the trail, but I decided to just bike.

It was a beautiful day and lots of cyclists were out on the road - mostly road/racing bikes. I've seen no other recumbents or even trikes. 

As I was huffing and puffing up one hill, a cyclist passed me saying "that's the second best bike I've seen today!" Kind of an odd comment, but it pepped me up enough to make it to the top. I wondered what the best bike was?

I screamed down the last steep hill to the lake and pulled over at the parking area at the bottom where we thought the trail began. Of course the lot wasn't flat and as I slowly creeped up the hill at 2mph to the other end, I was wobbling so much that I fell over again. BAM!!! My hip hit the pavement with a big thump. 

Man, did that hurt and I know it's going to leave a bruise! I should have gotten off and walked. Live and learn, I guess. But two fall overs in 2 rides is a bit much! Luckily no damage to the bike, just my ego.

I got to the end of the lot and saw no trail. (there was supposed to be a sign). But I saw another parking area ahead just down the road so headed that direction. 

Nope, no trail here either. Where the heck was this dang trail!! 

Well, there wasn't much else to do but continue on down the road which was a one-way that had a driving lane along with separate bike/pedestrian lanes. I knew where this went and hadn't ridden it the other day, so I figured that if I didn't run into the trail that I would just go back to the campground.

As I labored up another hill, I came across a third parking area and soon saw a sign for the trail off to my left. Yea! Finally.

I took off onto the wide paved path, excited to be exploring a new area. But that joy was squelched when after about a 1/2 mile, the trail ended at the main street for Stone Mountain Village. 

I looked up and down the road, but couldn't see any signs for the trail anywhere. I knew from reading about the trail that there were some on-road sections so maybe this was the first one? But some signs would have been appreciated! 

I noticed a bike shop next to me so I went inside to see if someone could help point me in the right direction. They were very helpful and suggested I ride on the road behind the store that would take me off of the busy main drag. 

The employee gave me the turns to take and said when I came to a Citgo C-store, that trail would restart up near there. Okay, that sounded easy. Hah, not exactly!

The little residential road behind the shop was fine and I made the turn which took me to the C-store which was located at a busy intersection. I was on the highway at this point which had a lot of traffic. But I couldn't see a trail sign anywhere!

As I waited at the light, I spotted a cyclist riding through the gas pumps, so I decided to go that direction and see if I could find anything. I was getting pretty frustrated at this point!

I made it into the gas station, and just beyond their lot I finally saw the path and a trail sign. Before long I was soon back on the trail which paralleled the busy road on one side and railroad tracks on the other. 

The path was nice and wide with a center painted line. It was in pretty good condition, mostly flat and I had high hopes for completing a longer ride today. 

As I continued on (I have no idea what direction I was headed), I followed the trail as it crossed many drive-ways, some of which were rough pavement. There were also several challenging intersections where I had to cross to the opposite side of the road. They all had lights for the vehicles but not necessarily pedestrian signals. You really had to watch out for the cars turning into you, along with the red-light runners.

But there weren't many signs indicating where on the other side you needed to go. I found that if I looked for a sidewalk with a painted line down the middle, then that was probably the trail.

In a way it was an interesting ride as I went by several businesses, apartment homes and a large cemetery. As I badly needed a pee break, the bushes in the cemetery were a welcome sight. Plus I could sit on a stone and eat my apple. 

But I really wasn't impressed with this trail. I had expected a quiet, bucolic ride out in the woods, but it was noisy by the cars. Plus all of the road crossings got annoying. 

There also were a couple of nice benches along the way - covered with graffiti, but not a map of the trail. Come on, Georgia, put in a few signs!! Luckily there were other cyclists on the path that I could follow. 

At least the trail was flat so I kept going a bit further. However, it was also getting late and I needed to allow time to bike back to the campground. 

When I came to a really nasty intersection where the trail ended on my side, I decided I'd had enough fun. I couldn't see it start up again anywhere and of course, there weren't any signs. Time to turn around!

The return on the trail was easier other than navigating the Citgo lot safely. I had to go through their driveway and onto the road, then get through the light. Messy!! Of course, there wasn't even a sidewalk and walk light light I could use. Sheesh!

But I safely made it through and onto the side road where I found my way back to the trail and returned home. Once in the park,  there were some climbs but at least it was peaceful in the woods. I could hear the birds singing and enjoy my surroundings again.

Lots of folks were out on this lovely holiday weekend - walking and cycling. One woman on a racing bike lapped me twice! I think that a lot of riders must treat this park as a training ride for races. 

By 4:30, I finally made it to the campground. Whew! What a day! It felt great to collapse in my chair with a cold drink. I was famished from my exertions and ready for dinner!

But I told Don that there was no way we would want to ride that trail on Garfield, at least on the section I did. Trying to navigate those intersections would be tricky with our long tandem. Maybe the parts nearer to downtown Atlanta would be better? 

We'll see. Maybe there is another trail or flatter route we could do. I know that the Silver Comet rail trail is a good one to do, but to get to the start would likely be an hour's drive from here. But we've got to get Don healed first!

Found it! Looks nice doesn't it?
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Yup, pretty path through the woods. Wide and nice smooth pavement while in the park.
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Mural at the visitor's center in Stone Mountain Village.
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Trail road block. I had to go around the digger to continue on. You can see that the path here is just a glorified sidewalk. Maybe a little wider than normal with a painted stripe down the middle.
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Historic Melwood Cemetery - 1928. It was a pleasant spot with lots of shrubbery to pee behind and a quiet area to enjoy my apple. I couldn't find out any history of this cemetery.
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Not something you see everyday!
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Today's ride: 18 miles (29 km)
Total: 209 miles (336 km)

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