Headed to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, I carried my bike along. That in itself is not shocking, but leaving on a Thursday and not getting back until Sunday evening, I planned on getting my rides in. Being able to ride new ground was exciting to me. I love exploring . . . but then again the conference was in a suburb of Atlanta . . . THAT is an eye-opener.
My first day out was in Fayetteville, Georgia. Yes, I looked up routes on Map My Ride and Strava and had some idea of where I was going. Nope, I was not KOM hunting, like most do in a new place. I needed to do work on my bike. Pulling out behind my hotel, I went into somewhat of a school zone area. Nice. Once I left that area, I started to encounter heavier and heavier traffic. Cars are blowing by like X-wing fighters strafing the Death Star. I’m not easily shaken on a bike, but HOLY LORD! I was doing some praying. To add insult to hopefully no injury, I glanced at a street sign as I was looking for a quiet road in which I could make my escape: Graves Road. What?! Nice. Now I know that I’ve got to get off this road. I was able to stumble across a county road and took it. What? A bike lane . . . with nothing but open road ahead! Whoop whoop! Spinning up, I was off to the races. My heart rate was climbing (this time for a good reason) and my cadence was steady. Three miles on this road, I topped a hill. Bike lane ends! Wait. What? Yep, it is intersecting into another heavy-trafficked highway; now, I’m sandwiched between the one I left and this one. It is at this time, I’m getting aggravated. I take a quick look at my phone to figure a circling route that should give me over 20 miles. Hey, it’s better than nothing . . . and DEATH! I thought it was nice though that so many people were telling me that I was #1, as I made my way back.
The next day, I was out of the conference earlier. Peachtree City was only a few miles away and was suggested by a bike shop in the area. In the 1950’s a group of real estate developers amassed over 12,000 acres in Fayette County to build a planned community. I was told that Peachtree City is known for its 100-mile network of multi-use paths for pedestrians, cyclists, and golf carts. Peachtree City residents can go from neighborhood to shopping centers, schools, and parks. This seems like heaven for a cyclist. Right? Well, sort of.
The local schools have actual golf cart parking, and it is a cool concept. In relation to bicycles, it’s awesome for a cruiser with a basket to grab something from the store, but the kind of riding I wanted was not so much. Yes, I found some strips that were long and isolated, but they eventually ran into a neighborhood and dumped out into a cul de sac. If I had the time to hook up with a local group, I’m sure that I would have had a stronger and faster ride. Not knowing where to connect from one road to the next is where the trouble is. I road almost 40 miles in the Tour de Nowhere and actually stumbled over two Strava sections. It was much nicer than the previous day.
Well, the lesson learned is this: plan. From now on I’m going to be more detailed in my planning. It’s hard to connect with a local ride, by the time most conferences are dismissed, but that would be the way to go. I chalk it up to experience and am blessed just to be able to ride. I can’t complain when I’m spinning the chain.