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Photos courtesy of Eric Dryden, Carmine DiBiase, Leah Mumpower, and me. (They will be paid in Christmas cookies).
One of the best things about my county is the Chief Ladiga Trail. Named after Muscogee Indian Chief Ladiga, the trail is an asphalt paved, 33-mile stretch of glorious Southern scenery. Once part of the Southern Railway system, this byway is used for walks, runs, and rides of all types of non-motorized conveyances.
I've been walking/running and cycling parts of the trail for a couple of years but never experienced it in its entirety. I'd hinted at riding the whole trail "sometime." My training rides were a safe drop in the bucket that didn't challenge me enough to even consider being able to ride 33 miles. Workout partners came and went. The challenge seemed insurmountable. And then, of course, was the repeated protest shouted in my mind, "You're too fat to do that!"
Ready, Set, Party!
|Let's get this party started!|
Well, in comes the Journey Training, and I am messed up! After all the changes I went through (and will go through at the completion of the training in June) I came away more bold than I'd been in a long time. When I got home, I firmly committed to not only make the attempt, but to use the ride to celebrate my 43rd birthday. Yes, I was actually going to TELL people what I was doing and celebrate it, even it I had to ride alone.
I got up on the morning of the 30th feeling excited, but nervous as a cat in room full of rocking chairs. You know, that nervous gotta pee feeling. Finding the trail was easy enough, but figuring out the correct riding direction wasn't so clear cut. The "parking" area is a little piece from the official entrance, so we had to walk to the entrance arch to figure where to go.
|Lovely entrance. Too bad the welcome sign is all jacked up.|
Leah shot a couple of pictures, we prayed, and I took off. Equipped with my cell phone, camera, drinks, food, a change of clothes, and pepper spray, I thought What have I gotten myself into? As I flew through the first few miles, my nerves faded and my confidence grew. Then it happened. Around mile marker 4 or 5, a friend joined in. Hallelujah! I'm not alone. Eric, who knows every nook and cranny of Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet trails, became my tour guide and photographer. I would have enjoyed just the camaraderie of the ride, but he made sure I didn't miss anything.
Around mile marker 10, Susan joined in.
From there, we had great fun chatting on the way to our next stop at the welcome center in Piedmont, AL (mile marker 14). I will definitely visit here again.
After a snack and potty break, we said goodbye to Susan and headed out again...oh wait, another cool spot in the area is Piedmont Springs. We took a detour there for a few minutes.
Just before we got to Jacksonville, the party on wheels kicked it up a notch. My Anniston Runner's Club and Journey Training buddy, Carla and Susan's husband, Carmine joined in. We pedaled, and laughed, and pedaled some more. It really was a party on wheels. We talked about a lot of everything and a lot of nothing. We had no idea that a surprise was waiting for us at the rock wall past the turtle pond (mile marker 22).
My friends (and Worship Pastors) Bob and Angie met our party with encouragement, hugs, laughs, and cold water. This was so sweet. Thanks for the love, y'all!
|From Left to right: Eric, Carla, Angie, Bob, me, Carmine.|
At Germania Springs Park, we met up with Leah (my walking buddy and partner in this mess) for a quick hug and photos... and for her to see that I wasn't dead. (mile marker 24)
We headed on into town, said goodbye to Eric, and took our lunch break at the train depot. After 26 miles, I was so sweaty and icky. I changed clothes, said goodbye to Carla, and Carmine and I headed to finish this thing.
The Other Wall
I've heard my fellow runners and cyclists talking about hitting the wall or bonking. I've only had a similar experience on runs where I was too ill to be running or on bike rides when mechanical problems forced me to get off and push. This is the first time in the ride that I actually thought I wouldn't finish. Thinking that I would probably bonk at mile marker 31 (the inclined section of Weaver that satan built), I figured I'd be fine on the portion from the depot to that spot . Ha! Right at the welcome sign at Weaver I had to get off and have a moment.
I was gasping for breath like I'd chain smoked six packs of Camel cigarettes straight, my heart was playing the Spider drum cadence in my chest, and the back of my head and neck hurt like I'd be hit with and aluminum folding chair at a rasslin' match. What the hay?! Three miles left and I'm falling apart? Get it together, woman! Praise the Lord, no vomit was involved. Thankful for Carmine's patience, I drank water and Gatorade, stretched my neck, blew my nose, and hopped back on the bike. My goal was to not get off again until I completed the ride.
Tired, hungry, and in need of a four hour shower and a 100-count bottle of Ibuprofen, I'd DONE IT! I finished all 33 miles. Carmine honored me; he who cycles like a mad man and finished the Cheaha Challenge, said he was proud of me. I know you're not supposed to say this, but quite frankly I was very proud of me. This is what we call at the Journey Training a CHAMPION MOMENT.
So, am I done with cycling? Absolutely NOT! All this does is make me hungry to ride more (after a little break, of course). Who knows? Soon you may see pictures from parts of the Silver Comet Trail. Stay tuned.