We chose to stay at Coleman Lake Recreation Area campground in beautiful northern Alabama in part because of its close proximity to the Chief Ladiga Trail, a paved bike path that Barry had ridden in 2014, while I drove our car with Paisley. However, things don't always go as planned, and it turned out that our campground was a wee bit too difficult to ride to the trail from. But we didn't know that starting out.
We chose to ride our Bike Fridays with their mountain gearing, expecting a hilly route, but we didn't realize that half of our riding would be on unpaved roads, since the roads around the campground were all paved. Between the often steep hills and some fresh, loose gravel, this meant slow going for much of the ride and quite a bit of walking our bikes to avoid wiping out. Definitely should have taken the mountain bikes on this one!
After accepting the fact that we weren't going to make it to the Chief Ladiga Trail, we found a different route back that we hoped would be easier. But it ended up being similar to the ride out, with over five miles of seriously hilly gravel. Running out of water and food, I was feeling awfully cranky, but eventually we did hook back up with the paved roads in the national forest and finished the ride on a fast and fun note.
Still, it was the toughest 27-mile ride of our lives, and certainly the slowest, at well over three hours of pedaling and/or pushing!
An epic ride like this reminds us that sometimes it's just as well not to know in advance what awaits you; otherwise, you might miss out on some crazy adventures. I'm sure we'll look back on this one and laugh one day soon, right?!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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