Day Two on the NRT

My friend Jim noted that it was rainy the day before Napolean fought at Waterloo. I commented that I hoped Tuesday wouldn’t be Jack’s and my ‘Waterloo,’ but in fact, it was. The trail finally defeated us.

It wasn’t the weather. We had a beautiful if more than a little steamy day. There were so many critters out and about, I thought we might get run over by a bunny. Saw this deer out in the middle of the river right at the Fries Junction.

  

Not a great pic, but you get the idea.

We did begin our trek slightly late — around 11A. Because it was such a pretty day we were having a great ride until about 7 miles from the end. 

   
   
As things were getting hotter and more difficult, I kept thinking: “We may be going downhill (following the flow of the river north), but at least we have a serious headwind.”

Part of the trouble was mechanical: both of our bikes were suffering from the tough conditions and lack of “up-on-the-rack” maintenance.

  
But most of the problem was physical. We just “popped.” Pure and simple.

Even ate a pretty big lunch, including the Gatorade we packed along, an apple, and good trail mix to accompany our ham and cheese sandwiches and chips. Ate lunch at Foster Falls, as we’d done yesterday, where the heritage of the trail is celebrated in everything you see around you.

   
 

Both of us were working hard, truly making this a training ride, rather than a tour. I was hoping to maintain a 13 mph average speed, headed mostly downhill and all. And I had a solid 12.9mph right at Hiawassee. I tried really hard to bump that up to 13, but then we hit a VERY LONG uphill to Draper and I had to abandon hope. Despite the hard work, I managed to take a few pix along the way.

 

The New below Buck Dam
  


Ivanhoe shelter: the same place I took the pic of the pouring rain yesterday.
 
While we contemplated our sorry state of affairs at the Draper shelter, a nice fellow who lives in Pulaski rolled up and assessed our lack of determination. After a bit of a chat-up, he set off again, saying over his shoulder: “Only about a mile and a half left of the uphill, and then it’s downhill all the way to Pulaski.”

As we often say, “There was nothing left to do but to do it.”

He was true to his word and our legs felt as if they’d been reborn as we rolled at a decent (cooling) pace downhill and to the parking lot. It was really REALLY difficult to keep our concentration long enough to do all the stuff required to load the car back up. But once in the air conditioning, we headed to a grocery store for a bottle of restorative chocolate milk and felt human again by the time we reached Fries.

Thanks, Jim, for bringing up what happened to Napoleon . . . so there were three things at work here: mechanical, physical and a jinx. Ahh, Jim , we thought we knew ya . . . 

Thought I’d post this also, since it is a celebration of the Rail-to-Trail philosophy — you can’t really see the view from the “telescope” as well as in real life, so I’ve included the sculptor’s statement also.

 

The sculpture as it appears beside the trail
  
through the telescope
 

“Just as this trail holds traces of the former railroad and the train that once rumbled past, the red disks of this sculpture hold traces of a train. You cannot see it as you pass, but when you look through the telescope you will see it in the space between the disks. It is not solid. You cannot touch it, but it is there, like a memory.” –Harry McDaniel, sculptor.

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4 thoughts on “Day Two on the NRT”

  1. you guys thought of fitting an engine on those machines? Am not sure whether y’all ‘popped’ or ‘pooped’ but I guess the effect is similar!

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