I woke up early to go to breakfast with Ashley. I said goodbye to my mom and my sister Shea. It was a difficult goodbye. Fighting back the whimpering voice that happens when a guy is trying to hold back his tears. Very shaky and wimpy. Girly Ryan.
I left with Ashley to go to Mamie’s in Lithonia. Sweet tea and biscuits for breakfast. That was a good meal to leave home on. I left Mamie’s with Scott and said goodbye to Ashley. Another difficult goodbye. Wimpy Ryan again. I have to admit it was a difficult morning. Even more so when those Mamie’s biscuits hit my stomach like a pile of bricks, bypassing my intestines. I begged Scott to stop by Walmart. I think it was also a combination of nerves and heavy breakfast.
Scott and I got to the CNN center to meet up with Eoin. We asked Scott to take some pictures of us in front of the CNN logo sign. There were about 80+ elementary students also taking pictures. Great. Get out of the way.
I looked at one of the classes and noticed someone awfully familiar. Sure enough, it was my sister Elise. If I hadn’t asked Scott to stop at Walmart to relieve myself, we would have easily have missed her. I am still amazed by the timing and coincidence of it as I’m writing. Very bizarre. Meant to be. I hope it’s not God giving me a final chance to see my sister as I ride off to oblivion and tacos. Perhaps it’s a good omen.
Eoin and I took some pictures with her. I spoke with Dad a few days later and learned that Elise was a little embarrassed. I would have been too at that age. Ugly guy with big egg helmet on with ugly bike clothes yelling my name. She said to my dad, “Why is he doing that? Aren’t professional people supposed to be doing that? It was embarrassing.” She’ll appreciate it when she gets older. For now, I’m just an unemployed ugly guy in bike clothing going to some country somewhere nearby. Oh well.
I said goodbye to Scott. That was tough too. I’ll miss him a lot. I will also miss his birthday in a few days. I’ll probably cry myself to sleep I thought.
Eoin and I started out the ride from Centennial Olympic park. After taking a few glamor shots, we headed towards the beginning of Silver Comet. Google maps had told us of a residential shortcut to take. We took it. Terrible. We hit a street called Abner. Straight uphill. We had to get out and push our 90 lb bikes up a hill. Shitty start.
We got to the Silver Comet, happy to get on a well-paved bike trail. Lots of fellow cyclists. Some of them would wave to you. Many of them would ignore you. Very serious riders in their self imagined Tour de France on the Silver Comet. Eoin and I were saying hello to everyone, trying to get in the traveling spirit. Our morale was knocked down again and again as cyclists passed by, snubbing us. However, a few did lift our spirits and gave us peace signs. Old guys giving peace signs. Pretty cool.
The Silver Comet is actually pretty boring on the early parts. Nothing but trees and big rocks to the left and right of you. It’s like being in a hamster wheel, with mile markers reminding you that you’ll be on that hamster wheel for an eternity. The facilities were great. Bathrooms and picnic tables. We sat down for a simple snack.
brian and ian
The early portion of the trail was so boring that Eoin and I would have stupid, meaningless, shitty conversations. No substance. I do this sometimes just to annoy people. I had continually been annoying on a trip to a cabin in North Georgia with Jessica, Jeremy, and Eoin. They started calling me Brian. Brian the annoying guy in the back seat saying meaningless crap.
Eoin did the same thing on the trail. He didn’t have a persona that I could name. What about Ian? Great. That works.
Conversation samples of Brian and Ian:
Brian – Have you ever been in a swimming pool?
Ian – Let’s rock and roll.
Brian – Have you ever pet a dog before? That’s really cool.
Ian – Well, good morning Ryan. How are you? Why are you so grumpy?
Terrible conversation. Very annoying. It passed the time before we finally got to Rockmart, Georgia.
rockmart and camping
We were finally cycling through a town. A creek ran through the town and kids were hanging out playing. We stopped to enjoy the scenery and drink water. An older cyclist stopped. I think he thought we were flagging him down. We spoke for a while, and we asked him if he knew of any camping spots. He said there was a primitive/natural campground 8 miles ahead. Awesome. Perfect timing. He also said the trail is pretty nasty past Rockmart. ”Monster hills,” he said.
We thanked him and went on our way. We finally found the spot. It was perfect for our first night. No running water or electricity. Eoin was completely out of water and I just had my 48 oz bladder of water. Lesson learned. Continually fill up on water.
We set up camp and made a fire. We both charred our pots black. Sticky black tar all over the bottom of the pots. We should have used the white gas stove. Eoin made mac and cheese. I mixed rice with diced onions, garlic, and potatoes. Eoin ate his. I was jealous. The rice was cooking for about 10 minutes and the fire went out. We tried to start it back up, but most of the wood was wet. I decided to eat the rice as is. Very bad idea. For me, the rest of the night entailed no sleep, headache, nausea, and getting in and out of my tent to pee. It was also cold. I could feel the rice expanding in my stomach. Disgusting rice. I was hating rice. Stupid rice. Cursing.
On top of that, I was thinking about my bed. My heat. My toilet. My running water. Applebee’s. Awesome blossoms. Sweet tea. All but a luxury that will now be missed. These simple things are easily overlooked when you are exposed to them daily. Strip them away and you’ll be amazed how many luxuries there are. Earlier that evening, Eoin had cleaned his clothes in standing rainwater by the trail. No more washing machines. Damn. We’re really doing this.
The rest of the night was one of those nights where you’re not sure if you slept at all. You wake up so much that you don’t think you did. I remember staring at the top of my tent, angry. I was questioning this trip. Eoin had warned me of this. He told me before the trip we have to hang in there the first two weeks. We’ll probably be hating ourselves before we get into the groove. I was just surprised to experience it the first night.
ddition: Eoin’s Experience:
I got up at 7am and ate a bunch of oatmeal, and finished off the two tubs of cottage cheese Roger brought for the potluck. As I brought down my panniers, I slipped on the wet, wood steps, and landed on my back. I let out a big yelp. I just thought, “Great. A back injury at the start of this trip.”
I said goodbye to Simon. Tough. Really tough. And I biked downtown to meet up with Ryan outside the CNN center where Scott was dropping him off. As I was waiting, an older black guy asked me if I had a cell phone. He seemed like a good guy and he’d been waiting there a while with me, so I said yeah. He called his sister. I helped him out. I felt good about it because I was in his situation in Budapest. I was waiting around a while for a friend, and I eventually asked a guy who was waiting with me for his cell phone. That guy trusted me, so I was happy that I trusted this guy. Karma.
We took Marietta out of the city and followed it as it became Perry Blvd and then joined up with South Cobb Dr. Pretty flat most of the time and not as industrial as Marrietta Blvd. Probably the best way to get to the Silver Comet from downtown.