Unbelievable! As I sliced through the air on my 7100 Trek down the Silver Comet bike trail, the temperature must have measured 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And this is in the middle of February—God bless the South!
The old railroad bed has been converted to a first-class paved bike trail. It stretches from Smyrna, Georgia to the Georgia/Alabama line, some 61 miles. At the state line, it connects with the 33 mile Chief Ladiga Trail, which goes to Anniston, Alabama. The gentle pavement and gradual grades make the trail a pleasure to bike, jog or hike. Although I have a 21 speed bike, I stayed in one gear almost the whole trip. The path’s width spans a comfortable 12 feet, allowing room for the trail’s many occupants.
Last Saturday, my family and I parked at the Rambo Nursery trailhead, near Dallas, Georgia and biked approximately 9 miles to the Brushy Mountain train tunnel. We stopped and rested at the tunnel and then turned back for Rambo Nursery. This section of trail is somewhat remote, but very beautiful. We shared the trail with several other bikers and hikers. The weather was our friend.
Here are some tips I’ve found helpful for biking these long stretches:
- Make sure your bike is in good working order—tire pressure, breaks, chain, etc.
- If you plan to get serious about biking, invest in a quality bike like the Trek, the Diamondback or the Cannondale. I gladly said goodbye to my department store brand bike several years ago.
- Plan your route wisely. Keep in mind that on a bike you will travel about 10 to 12 miles per hour, average speed.
- If one is available, have a map of the trail with you.
- Carry a small repair kit to tighten loose parts or fix flat tires. Don’t forget the cell phone.
- Equip your bike with a comfortable seat. Trust me—you need to have a decent seat for these extended rides.
- Pack a water bottle and a snack.
- Dress appropriately.
- Take a friend with you.
In addition to the Comet, my wife and I have visited the bike trails around Arabia and Panola Mountains, the Chief Ladiga trail in Alabama and the Riverwalk Trail in Columbus, Georgia.
The book, Rails-Trails Southeast is a wonderful guide for discovering bike trails across the southeast. And here are some websites you might want to check out:
If you know of some great bike trails in your neck of the woods, please share them with us.