My last day of travel! I was up and surveyed the foggy monotone landscape before me. The metal roof of the flea market and various terraced parking aprons flowed down to Hwy 278. I made some coffee and oatmeal while packing the bike and set off into the warm and humid morning air. The miles slid away as I worked my way west on Hwy 132 past small working farms and woodlands butting up to the southern remnants of the Appalachian mountains. In Onenonta, the nearest town, I stopped to check out the library and pick up some food at the local hometown grocery store. This town seems to have the basic necessities and enough businesses to offer the odd bite to eat. 14 miles was all that remained as I pedaled north on 75 with the whir of rush hour traffic. Except for the first few miles on 75, the remaining back roads were scenic and pleasant to ride. I'll be looking forward to the day trips in this area. The roads became more familiar and I followed the landmarks that guided me to the gray forest and gravel road in this, the end of fall. I'm happy to finally arrive and know what I'm capable of on a bicycle too.
The morning woke with the usual sound of birds and squirrels bouncing in the leaves. Dang it was early! oh...it's the mixture of daylight saving's time and the EST making the sun rise before 6. The Chief Ladiga trail is nearly empty except for a few barking dogs who chase as I pass. The scenery and lack of vehicles on the trail makes for a wonderful and relaxing ride. In Piedmont, I choose to keep riding the trail instead of getting on hwy 278. It may require an additional 10 miles but the peacefulness and frequent trailside picnic areas are worth the detour. Imagine if there was a cross country bicycle trail like this? I'd ride it.
The sun burned away the clouds and the afternoon warmed into the 70s. Arriving in Gadsden, I found Broad St marked off by Police and Fire for a Veteran's Day parade. Having plenty of time to kill, I lounged around the shady spots and talked with a few locals while the high school marching bands warmed up around the corner. The town is near Anniston Military Depot and has a large military presence so the parade was well represented. The JROTC led the parade followed by marching bands and floats. It was apparent that certain schools had predominantly one racial makeup as I watched the nearly all black band pass, followed by a nearly all white band. In Alabama, many people do still live on opposite sides of the tracks. Large armored military vehicles, some alarmingly owned by the police, chugged past. The remaining WW-II veterans in their decorated Class-A uniform waved and smiled on floats decorated with American flags. Somehow in the event and walking around the streets, my American flag went missing from the bicycle. At least I know it was put to good use!
The day grew short and shadows long as I turned west onto 278, a busy highway with much traffic and narrow shoulders. Ahead of me lay a 600 ft climb outside of Attalla which I chose to tackle this evening. It was a bear but I made it up on the mountain and soon found a grove of pine behind a closed Flea Market in which to camp. A quiet night and warm.
After a wonderful stay with my sister's family down in GA, I set out with a repaired bicycle and new sets of tubes. I remained on back roads before joining up with the Silver Comet Trail in Dallas, GA. The former railbed has been converted into a bicycle trail from Atlanta to Anniston, AL. I love bicycle trails for the lack of traffic, many picnic stops and scenery. The day flew by as the drizzle came down and then cleared as fog. The weather was warm and I was riding through Fall all over again. Chasing the seasons...