Sweet Onion Cyclists News
Vidalia, Georgia
July 2001

Sorry for another late issue, but it's worth it, and its REALLY BIG! Check it out:

The Silver Comet Weekend Aug. 24-26
Don't miss our club's first (annual?) Silver Comet Trail and Stone Mountain Park ride on August .  We will leave from Lamar's house at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, August 24 and carpool to Stone Mountain Park.  We should arrive at the park in time to take our lawn chairs or blankets to the field in front of the mountain for the Laser Show, which begins at dusk.  If you've never seen the Laser Show, let me tell you about it.
This is view from the top of Stone Mountain looking at a 4th of July crowd gathered on the lawn for the Laser Show/Fire Works in 1995 (don't worry, the usual crowd is much, much smaller than this)
It is NOT a psychedellic light show, although that is a technically amazing part of it.  It is NOT a fireworks show, although the glorious bursts of colored fire with the massive granite mountain as the backdrop will amaze you.  It is NOT a musical extravaganza featuring laser generated cartoon characters which transform the mountain into a IMAX sized movie screen, but these too will fill your senses and make you want to dance and clap along.  It is NOT a sentimental look at the Union and Rebel soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, but you will be touched and may even cry when Elvis sings the Battle Hymn of the Republic/Dixie Land at the end of the show.   It is not any of these things because the sum is so much more than the parts I have mentioned.  It is an experience of sight, sound, smell, taste and feeling that you will never forget it.

We will stay in a conveniently located hotel, or possibly camp at Stone Mountain Park, if most people prefer this option.  On Saturday we will carpool over to Smyrna Georgia to the trail head of the Silver Comet Trail.  The Silver Comet is Georgia's premier Rail Trail, presently stretching 38 miles from Smyrna to Rockmart Georgia.  It is paved with blacktop in some counties and concrete in others.  Being a railroad bed, it is quite flat, and takes you through beautiful wilderness areas.  It is all very well marked and is excellent in every way, except there are very few, if any water fountains or restrooms.  You can ride out as many miles as you want, or go all the way to the temporary end in Rockmart and return to Smyrna for a total of 76 miles.

I plan to rent a 15-passenger van and use our club bicycle trailer.  We will need at least 10 people to make this worthwhile; otherwise, we will carpool and meet at Stone Mountain Park Friday, or at the trail head on Saturday. If we do rent a van, then we may be able to ride from Smryna to Rockmart and have someone drive the van to the end of the line for the return trip for those who want to ride the whole thing but not out and back.

Saturday evening we will explore downtown Atlanta or Buckead for dinner and maybe a movie.  Sunday morning I plan to offer a ride to a great church with awesome music and adult Sunday school to anyone who wants to experience a mega-church. Others may want to ride the other Path Foundation trails from Decatur to Stone Mountain or just ride around the park and the beautiful lakes. After church, we can all get together for lunch and then ride until 4:00 p.m..  We should be back to Lyons by 7:30 p.m.. Savannahians would then get home by 9:30 or sooner.

I need to know who is going and have $35 commitment from each participant if we are going to get a van.  I estimate the van and two nights hotel accomodations will cost approximately $130/person (based on double occupancy).  A less expensive option is to camp for two nights at Stone Mountain Park (showers available in camp).  The cost to camp is $28 per campsite per night.  I don't know if they allow two tents on each site, but expect it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.  That way each tent only pays $28 for two nights.  I cannot make further plans until I know who is going and whether most people prefer the hotel or the camping option.  The lake front campsites are very beautiful.  On the other hand, we will have more time for eating out, etc., if we do the hotel option.

I invite all of our club members and all of our friends from CBTC, Southern Cyclists and The No Name Cyclists to join us for this trip. I need everyone who is interested to email me (lamar@letsride.net) or telephone me (912-526-9179) with your specific wants (hotel or camping, full weekend trip or just part of it).  Please contact me no later than July 28.  Depending on the feedback, I will make final plans and let everyone know.

Road Rage in Hazlehurst
By Abe Glaser

June 2 was the date for the Hazlehurst ride hosted by Ray Maddox, Gary Beall and James Jackson.  After meeting at Mike Erickson's house on Center Drive, in Vidalia, the small caravan headed out to the cabin in Hazlehurst.  Libby Kimball drove her truck and carried Abe and Jeff Glaser.  Mike Erickson followed in his van.
The ride down to Hazlehurst was uneventful due to excellent directions by Ray Maddox and Gary Beall's map.  Libby knew the way, but the group  was packing the directions, just in case.  Entry to the property was through a cattle gate and then a short  drive on a dirt road about 1/2 mile.  As the caravan emerged from the trees they saw the cabin and lots of cars with bikes.  The cabin is owned by Chip Wood, who had to work this day, so he could not ride. Oh yes, there was a very nice pond.  Ray casually remarked that a gator was now resident in the pond.  Later, James Jackson got down on his hands and knees and crawled right up to edge to have a close-up look.  I sometimes wonders if James' porch light is on.
Gang at "the cabin" for the Hazlehurst ride

It was great to see Royce Smith and Pegi Boatwright with their Cannondale tandem.  Steve Haynes with his new Cannondale
R1000, purchased from The Bike Shop in Statesboro was there, as well as Jon Dillard.
Shirley's new MTB
It was a real treat to see our old pal Shirley Poole arrive with her brand new Cannondale F500.  This bike is bright yellow and is a hybrid of a different kind.  Can
you picture a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike?  (See the picture.)  The bike is lighter and smaller than Shirley's Cannondale H300 hybrid.  The new bike has 26" wheels that are road wheels (with less rolling resistance so she can go faster).  This bike comes with full suspension.  The Silk Path (Cannondale's trade name) seatpost works very well compared to the H300.  The Silk Path's front suspension was is Cannondale's Headshok.  Shirley still likes the mountain bike handlebars and bar ends, so that's what the bike came with.  They use 9 speed SRAM shifters and derailleurs.  It looks like Billy Blanton has outfitted our girl with the perfect bike for her.

Everyone rode out on the dirt (even the road bikes).  The dirt did not seem bumpy when the riders were fresh.  At the paved road, the group made a left towards Hazlehurst and they were off. The wind was at their backs and the route was mostly  downhill.  This was great fun for about 20 miles.  Then came a right turn...wind to the side and front.  Now, this was not so good.  As the ride progressed, the wind became stronger and ride got considerably harder.

The second rest stop was great.  The temperature was up by the time they got to Baxley, and the group relaxed at a store stop
in air conditioning.  As they refueled, the riders kept up a steady stream of jokes and just about everyone had some fun poked at them.  This always reminds us that it's not always about the bike.  The lasting friendships and fun are more important than how fast you can go.

The next 10 miles featured high trees on both sides of the road.  Normally, the trees block the wind - but this time, the wind was right in the rider's faces coming down the road as though it were a wind tunnel.  This was a tough pull.  The wind had to be at
least 15 MPH.  Most of the riders, anxious to get it over with by now, had kicked it and were almost back to the cabin.  A small group lingered to the rear.  Shirley, James, Abe and the new guy with Gary were riding sweep.  James, Abe and Steve Haynes waited up for Shirley, as she was having a hard time in the wind.

As Shirley rode up, she said there was someone to the rear but we could not see who it was.  James Jackson became
concerned and decided to get back there to see if Gary was OK.  A few minutes later a lady pulled up in a white car and told
us a driver in a pickup truck had pulled a gun on one of our riders.   The lady gave us the license plate number and her name
and phone number as a witness to the altercation.  Soon, Gary and James were in sight.  Everyone was anxious to find out what had happened.  This is what they learned from Gary:  The guy in the truck got upset that a bicycle was in his way.  As he drove
by, the driver hollered for Gary to get off the road and flipped him a "bird".  Gary challenged the driver to pull over by signaling him to do so.  Sure enough, the enraged driver pulled over and mild-mannered Gary Beall dismounted the bike and kicked off his riding shoes.  (Look cleats are hard to walk in, let alone run and fight). Off came the helmet and gloves.  As Gary moved towards the motorist he told him that he (Gary) had as much right to the road as any other vehicle.  The excited driver realized this was a no fear kind of guy who was going to give him a whipping unless the cyclist could be stopped.  The driver reached into his truck and came up with a rifle.  By now, James had showed up and the lady in the white car had stopped.  They had seen everything.

Gary told the guy he had best put that thing away and get out of here before he was sorry.  The driver realized he was up to his
butt in trouble now so he got back into his truck and took off.  Ray Maddox noticed a pick-up truck that hollered something as
it whizzed by about this time.  Sometimes we wonder what goes through the mind of those behind the wheel of motor vehicles.
Unfortunately, this guy still has no clue as to sharing the road and will likely force some other cyclist off the road to get even.

The last 8-9 miles were very hard.  Jon Dillard came out in his Jeep to see if anyone need to be SAGged in.  Shirley decided she had had enough.  Mike Erickson came looking for the stragglers and the small band of riders decided to finish no matter how hard it was.  Now Gary took off and headed for the barn and no one blamed him.  James stuck with Abe and made sure he got back OK.  The ride over the dirt was very bumpy on the way in from the gate, but the hard part of the day was over.  Some folks were relaxing on the porch.  Ray and Libby were cooking the spaghetti and salad.  Cold drinks were everywhere and it was time to let the celebration begin.  The "Cabin," although it appeared to be rustic on the outside, was a very
nice house.  The air conditioning was working and so was the shower.  Several riders used the shower to cool off and that makes all the difference in the world after a strenuous ride.

The chefs were ready and the food was served and it was good.  Can you imagine a house full of bike riding fools, eating and
make jokes in-between bites and slurps?  That was the way it went.  We missed you if you were not there and we invite you to
come on down next time.  We all had fun and want to share the good times with you.

BRAG 2001
 By Abe Glaser

Although the hills were not as steep as last year's,  BRAG 2001 had three days of long, hard grades and some of them had a
sharp percent of grade at the top.  A few riders walked their bikes up the last 50-100 yards.  Day one, from Hartwell to
Washington, was not that bad when you look back on the whole ride.  The long fast downhill runs made up for the long climbs.
Day two to Milledgeville had tougher climbs and some very good downhills. Day three and four fooled us, in that there were still significant hills.  By day four and five some of the riders were feeling the fatigue of all that grinding uphill.  By day five, the ride to Vidalia from Dublin, most riders had settled into the rhythm of BRAG and had a pleasant trip to the "Sweet Onion City.".
The adventure always begins with the drive to the start.  James and Cindy Jackson provided the truck to bring Ray Maddox
(black Specialized Alez road bike), Gary Beall (blue Schwinn road bike), Jeff Glaser (blue Specialized Alez road bike) and Abe Glaser (metallic maroon Cannondale touring bike) to Hartwell.  The truck belongs to Chip Wood, the pharmacist from Hazlehurst who owns the "Cabin."   The conversation was quite spirited all the way to Hartwell.  This was like a bunch of teen-agers off to spring break.  The excitement was in the air.  James and Cindy had to work and provided the transportation this time.  The group stopped just out of Hartwell to view the Georgia Guide Stones.  As it turned out, this would be our first rest stop the next day.

The Georgia Guide Stones are sometimes called, "America's Stonehenge." The slabs are aligned so the summer and winter
solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes can be viewed through them. The slabs had a guide for living carved into them in several languages and are worth a trip to see them.  A time capsule is buried on the site to be opened in the future.

Abe gets pre-BRAG tune-up from club member Billy Blanton, 
owner of The Bike Shop, Statesboro

Upon arrival at the Hart County High School, our adventurers unloaded all their gear and began looking for a place to camp.
Ray and Gary brought tents, as did Mike Chumley (blue Cannondale R600 road bike).  These three set up camps near each
other and hung together for the whole ride.  Jeff and Abe opted for the gym.  This was the first time either of them planned to try sleeping with a room full of other riders.  This got cramped at times, but in case of rain, it would be much more comfortable.
See the picture of the (BRAGer's in the gym.)  Shirley Poole (yellow F500 Cannondale road/cross bike) and Jill Poole
(yellow mountain bike) arrived and checked in.  They would stay in the family travel trailer and camp at State Parks along the
way.  James Poole was Shirley's personal chauffeur.  Andy Miles decided to stay home for the first part of BRAG.

Our guys checked in and got their BRAG T-shirts, ride descriptions and all the other goodies that come with registration.
Eleanor Schneider was there as were a good contingent from Savannah.  Some of the CBTC were President Franz Frolicher
(yellow and white LeMond road bike), Daniel Smith (yellow Giant road bike),  David Smith (blue Visions under seat steering,
short wheelbase recumbent, Ken Laidlaw (gold road bike).  Nancy Norton (blue Cannondale R800) checked in, but would not ride the first day due to a graduation in the family.  The guys met Dr. Nancy's husband, "Bill," who did not ride.
Some indoor campers on BRAG
BRAG had 2050 registered riders this year.  When you consider the foreboding weather reports, this is quite a few participants. Not all riders rode all the time, but you could feel there were lots of people from the way they were strung out along the route. Not everyone camped in the same field.  BRAGers camp all over the school campuses wherever they can find some shade to pitch their tent.  Those who sleep in the gym are cramped sometimes, but the gyms always fill up.  Sometimes, they opened a second gym or hallway to accommodate everyone.  Every school provided Internet access this year.  This made it convenient to stay in touch via e-mail if necessary. All the towns provided bus rides to town except for Milledgeville.  Downtown Milledgeville was within walking distance.

The ride around Dublin allowed you to go for a century if you cared to. The participants were Mike Chumley, Gary Beall, Ray
Maddox and Jeff Glaser.  Abe Glaser, who was "worn slap out" from the first three days, decided to play it safe and just ride  around Dublin.  All made it in safely and before the evening rain came. The group was joined by Libby Kimball (new red/black/yellow Cannondale R600 road bike), Dan Brown (yellow Tour Easy long wheelbase recumbent), Ben Mosely Univega red and white road bike) and Mike Erickson (Trek 2300/Rolfe Wheels road bike) for the ride from Dublin to Vidalia the next day.  Usual starting time was 6:00 AM to stay cool for as long as possible.  This day the ride began about 7:30 AM to accommodate the newcomers and proved to be a very fast ride to the Onion City. Some of the riders gathered at Libby Kimball's house for an after ride wind down get-together.

Club members and friends had a good night's rest at home and were ready to hit the road in the AM from Vidalia High School
to Jesup.  Upon arriving at Vidalia High School, the group was delighted to find Mike Chumley had talked Royce Smith into riding to Jesup. The guys were happy to see their old riding buddy and hugs were exchanged all around.  Love ya man!  Just so you will know what kind of a bike rider Mike Chumley is, he rode the century the day before and then rode from Dublin to Vidalia and on to Manassus, where he lives.  Now there is a guy who puts miles on a bike!

Sweet Onion Cyclists member Rebekah Arnold was a volunteer at one of the rest stops on the way to Vidalia.  What a nice
surprise to see her happy face helping to make the big ride a success.  If it were not for volunteers, there would be no BRAG.

Some of the riders were surprised by the long uphill grades on the way to Jesup.  Many thought the hills were behind them, but
this was not to be.  It was another hard day at the salt mines.  The campus at Jesup was host to several vendors of food.  Most
notable were the Mennonites.  These folks can cook!  All manner of grilled chicken and meat were available, as well as a fine
selection of cake, pie, cookies and many other sweets.  The outstanding dish was homemade ice cream.  Picture this rig:
a gas motor with a drive shaft that drove two ice cream churns.  One churn turned out vanilla, and the other, chocolate.
Homemade ice-cream sure tastes good!
A pleasant surprise was having Mike Erickson, James Jackson and Libby Kimball join the group on the final leg to St. Simons
Island.  Even though Abe and Jeff Glaser left early, the hammerheads passed them on the way to the Island.  Mike Erickson met his wife Ann at the lunch stop.  Abe and Jeff rolled in as well. There was Ann behind the counter helping out the "Veggie Lady."  Mike, Abe and Jeff munched down their veggie and turkey sandwiches in the shade of the Erickson's van.

Unfortunately, Mike Erickson got a flat and had to stop and fix it.  He urged Abe and Jeff to go on and he would catch up.
Sure enough, a nasty old flat won't stop a true biker like Mike.  With flat fixed, he hammered back to catch his buds and pass them.  Just to show his heart was in the right place, Mike even pulled his fellow club members for a few miles, then took off like the wind to the finish.

Abe and Jeff enjoying a BRAG rest stop

End of Ride Party

There is always a big "chow down" at the end of BRAG.  Presentations are made.  The "Dream Team" is recognized for
completing the ride and the shower trucks slather away your sweat for the last time.  Oh yes, this is the last time you have to
search for your baggage.  A small contingent of club members and friends stopped at Spanky's (Hwy 17) to hoist a few
pitchers and rerun the fun of BRAG before the ride home.  Partyers were Steve Haynes, James Jackson, Libby Kimball, Gary
Beall, Ray Maddox, Abe and Jeff Glaser.  It's good the place was between meals, because our pals got a little loud.  There
might be a law against having so much fun in some countries.

Some BRAG Highlights:

Some Final Thoughts

This was a great BRAG.  There were few complaints, and one of the problems from last year was solved.  Several riders got
intestinal flu from the bags of ice used to fill water bottles at rest stops.  This year, soap was provided to wash your hands at
each rest stop.  A rest stop volunteer with gloves was designated to pour the ice into your water bottle or cups of ice were
prepared in advance.

Another problem from last year was the thinned-out sandwiches by the "Veggie Lady."  For some reason, the Veggie Lady cut
down on the amount of food going into the sandwiches last year and for the price, $5.00 including drink but plus the cost of
chips, it was not worth it.  The message came across loud and clear from the BRAG e-mails, "we want more ingredients or
more vendors."  The riders got both.  You could get as much as you wanted piled on your sandwich this time.  BRAG also
allowed other vendors to serve food at the lunch stop.  Most notable was Momma T's and her red trailer.  She served a
different breakfast consisting of an omelet with eggs, hash brown potatoes and bell peppers.  At the lunch stop she had
hamburgers and grilled turkey legs on the menu.  See, BRAG listens to its participants and corrects the problems.

BRAG is one place you see a lot of tandems.  This year it seemed as though there were more tandems than before.  You could
find every combination of Captain and Stoker.  Husband-wife, father-son, father-daughter and the same goes for mother-son
and daughter.  Boyfriend-girlfriend and so on.  Occasionally you would see the triple or even the quadruple tandem!  And who ould forget the family with the parrot beaks on their helmets!

It never ceases to amaze this writer all the different types of people on BRAG.  You find all ages -  from the very young to the
very old.  Most are in good physical shape, and if they are not, they will be by the end of the ride.  You will see young kids on
mountain bikes just zooming up those hills.  You will see grandma and grandpa moving right along.  There will always be the
hammerheads who burn up the pavement just for the sake of speed.  Most of the folks want to get from one place to the next in a decent time.  Then there is the fashion show.  Riding clothes and other clothes.  What a fashion statement is made.  You see
hard bodies and fat bodies.  They are all moving towards that final destination.  It is great to savor the moment because BRAG
is over in just seven days and you must wait a whole year to do it again.

Take a Ride on the Katy
by Lamar Martin

The Katy Trail State Park is America's longest completed rail-trail, at 233 miles, stretching from Clinton to St. Charles, Missouri .  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has already aquired more land with plans to extend this beautiful state park even further.  The surface is hardpacked crushed limestone. The section of trail between St. Charles and Boonville has been designated as an official segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and the entire trail is part of the American Discovery Trail. The trail also has been designated as a Milennium Legacy Trail.  On June 18-22, Ed Jewell and I participated in the 1st (annual?) Take a Ride on the Katy.  It was a fantastic adventure and wonderfully supported cross state bicycle ride, mostly on the The Katy Trail.  Here is our story.

Borrowed image from Take a Ride on the Katy 

During the same week that many of our club members and friends were riding some or all of BRAG 2001, Ed Jewell and I were happy participants in the 1st Annual, "Take a Ride on the Katy" bicycle ride in Missouri.  On Saturday, June 17, we loaded our gear and bikes and hit the highway in Ed's Saturn for the 780 mile drive to St. Charles, a suburb of St. Louis.

After driving about 670 miles, we stopped in Mt. Vernon IL, had a great dinner, and spent the night in a hotel.  I must have been really tired because Ed and I first walked  to the restaurant at our hotel and considered eating there but decided to walk around town and see what else we could find.  During our walk Ed mentioned that the price of the buffet at our hotel was rather high for a Chinese Restaurant.  To this I replied, "Chinese? What makes you think it was Chinese?"  Ed is a very nice guy!  He simply answered, "the name of the restaurant was the Jade Room and the menu outside their doors had Chinese cuisine."  We continued our walk and had a wonderful meal at a local Ponderosa Steak House. The next morning the hotel served continental breakfast just outside the "Jade Room".  I could not believe my eyes, the entrance from the hotel lobby into the restaurant was flanked above and on both sides with Chinese art and script.  There were two 5 ft tall golden lion creatures on either side of the doorway also.  In fact the whole lobby was quite Chinese looking!  When I saw all this with fresh eyes on Sunday morning I laughed so hard I almost cried.  Only after I cracked up about it did Ed every let on how silly my question was.  We had the best laugh, enjoyed our breakfast and hit the road with happy hearts.

Ed had prepared for the trip by getting new maps of all the states we would be travelling in but went off and left them at home.  So, our maps were limited to what I had printed using my PC software and the mailing we received confirming our ride registration.  Nevertheless, we found the trail head at St. Charles with very little difficulty.  The parking area was nice and shady with plenty of room for the many cars that would be left there for the next 6 days.  We arrived a full hour ahead of schedule, and immediately met several super nice fellow ride participants from Michigan, Wisconsin and other states, including Missourians.  We checked in and found ourselves with time to kill.  It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed cycling around the area a bit before it was time to load the bikes on the Ryder trucks that would be taking them to Clinton.  There were two charter buses for the riders, but not all of the luggage fit on the buses so Ed ended up having to put his luggage on one of the two Ryder trucks.  The buss trip was long, but again we found ourselves amongst immediate friends.
Becky, Katy Trail Volunteer, our hotel 
shuttle driver
The two buses loaded with riders and one of the Ryder trucks loaded with bikes made it Clinton with no problems.  Ed and I claimed our bicycles and staged our luggage at the designated location for catching the "hotel shuttle" van.  Have you guessed it yet?  Ed's luggage was on the truck which had broken down just outside St. Charles and they couldn't give him any estimate of when he would get his stuff. 

This is the day we met sweet, funny, and incredibly kind Becky, our hotel shuttle driver for the week  Becky was a Katy Trail volunteer who did a lot more than just shuttle us to our hotel each afternoon, not the least of which was hanging around the campsite in Clinton until the truck with Ed's luggage finally arrived at 1 o'clock in the morning and then delivered it to Ed at 1:30 am so he could finally freshen up and get some real rest.  The number of people who had signed up for the hotel shuttle service varied each day, but as with BRAG, the percentage is quite low.  Most people stayed at the provided campsites each night.  The hotel wimps, which is what we jokingly called ourselves, was usually only 20 or less out of 310 riders.

The next morning Becky was at the hotel to pick up us wimps at 5:30 a.m. so we could get to camp in time to eat breakfast and attend the mandatory pre-ride meeting.  Afterward, the majority of the riders assembled for a group photo and a mass start on the Katy Trail.  I'm sure this was Ed's least favorite part of the trip since he doesn't like riding in a crowd, and here he was near the back of a crush of 300 riders, on a trail about 8 feet wide.  Even so, we started out making great time, passing people steadily.  As usual, I began the day averaging 18 mph easily, even on the crushed limestone trail, but when I began to slow after about 10 miles, I told Ed to take on off.  Sure enough, Ed left me and all the other riders in the dust, literally.  Only one other rider finished the 61 miles ahead of Ed.  For the first 40 miles of trail we had the best tail wind I have ever ridden in.  I believe the average wind speed was over 15 mph gusting up to 20 or 25 mph, and was pushing us along the flat trail with ease.  The last 20 miles was more of a cross wind.  The temperature and humidity were typical of Georgia weather, and it took its toll on many riders, including Ed and myself. This part of the trail was the newest section of the Katy State Park, and to be honest, the least scenic.
As the days passed, we developed a camaraderie unsurpassed by any of the cross state bicycle trips I have participated in, and that is saying a lot!  Ed, as I mentioned earlier, does not like riding in large groups, and it took a lot of arm twisting to convince him to go on this ride.  I was amazed at how quickly he changed his outlook on group events.  Ed was talking about doing the trip in 2002 by the end of day 1 this year. Ed had the most fun wearing his Heritage Trek '98 T-shirt (the one with my likeness on front) and asking our new friends if they recognized the man on the shirt.  I will never live down the vanity of using my own image for the T-shirt. Ed calls it the official Lamar Martin fan club T-shirt.  I actually enjoy the joke, because it pleases Ed so much.

Some of us "hotel wimps". Click for close-up.
Patty, a very fit young retiree, at one of the many streams the Katy Trail crosses
My favorite day of the trip was the day I met up with Patty, a fellow hotel wimp, on the trail.  We talked some but mostly enjoyed the scenery of perhaps the prettiest part of our 242 mile trip.  We met up with Margo, another of our hotel clan, at a trailside bar about five miles from the day's destination.  That's Margo, bottom right in our group pic.  What hard, tan bodies those two have! 

Ed and I both enjoyed everything about this trip.  In certain sections the trail's natural beauty rivaled that of the C&O Canal towpath, with high bluffs on one side of the trail and the Missouri River on the other.  The riding surface is much better.

The $195 price of the trip included breakfast and dinner each day, which made life much simpler and the food was excellent. That also makes this ride an unbeatable bargain!  The frequent rest stops along the trail each day were much more than I expected. There is so much more I could say about this very special bicycle vacation, but a couple of our fellow riders put the feelings into songs that say it better than I can.  I think you will enjoy them too:
We've Been Riding on the Katy
(Sung to the tune of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad")
By Sheri (Rider #292 from Texas)

We've been riding on the Katy
All the livelong day
We've been riding on the Katy
Just to pass the time away.
Can't you hear the gravel crunching
As we ride the trail
Can't you hear the tires popping
And the riders wail

Buddy don't ya know
Buddy don't ya know
I forgot my spare
Buddy don't ya know
Buddy don't ya know
And I need some air.

Riders are here from Georgia
And Alaska too
Some are even from Texas
From Missouri quite a few

Fee fi fiddle-e-i-o
Ride along the mighty MO
Fee fi fiddle-e-i-o
On to St. Charles we go.

A different kind of mud from a rainy ride on the Katy
(Sung to the tune of "The Battle of New Orleans")
By Pat (Rider #2 from Wisconsin)

In 2001 we hopped upon a trail
A mighty pretty route, it used to be a rail
We took along some courage and a smiley attitude
Took along some water and a little bit of food

We pedaled our bikes and the trail kept a comin'
Twice as many aches as there was a day ago
We pedaled our bikes and the river kept a runnin'
Down the Katy Trail to St. Charles town we go

We set up Monday morning and the sun was shinin' bright
Feelin stiff and sore from a sorta restless night
Down to the trail head 300 bikers flew
It was sorta crowded but we finally pedaled through


We got up Wednesday morning and the rain was pourin' down
Lots of smiley faces were turnin' to a frown
But we dug deep down inside our souls and trudged through rain and goo
And before we even knew it the sun was shinin' new.


We got up Thursday mornin' and our butts were feelin' sore
The rain was still a pourin' we were soaked down to the core
But the new friends we were makin' kept our spirits goin' strong
And suddenly the ridin' day just didn't seem so long


We got up Friday mornin' with a sad spot in our hearts,
We knew that this would be the day that we would have to part
New friendships would be splittin' up by towns too far away
But the memories we made this week with us will always stay


To Bike Path or Not to Bike Path, That is the Question
By Abe Glaser

There has been much discussion for many years about creating bike paths and or more bike friendly roads in the State of
Georgia.  A shining example of a great bike path is the Silver Comet Trail which goes from Smyna GA to Rockmart and will eventually go all the way to the Alabama State Line where it will join the Chief Ladiga Trail for a total lenght of 110 miles.  The Silver Comet Trail is a Rails to Trail project through rural west Georgia.  The trail accommodates walkers, joggers, in-line skaters and cyclists.  Once the path gets away from the towns along the route, is mostly used by bicycles.

Is this the type of bicycle riding we want?  In the Metro Atlanta area, this is a safe haven for many cyclists who must endure the
severe traffic and attitudes of Metro motorists.  I have posted some responses to a recent article that appeared in The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution.  The article consolidated several rants from motorists who complained about the way bicyclists behave
when using the roads.  Some of the complaints we have heard before, but here they are again:

The following are recect postings on the Bicycle Georgia mail list on this subject::

Posting from Dave Sanderson, Pres. BicycleSavannah, LLC

I agree with the man who wrote the letter basically. Education is needed on both sides. Motorists don't understand that those of us who "HAMMER" can't ride on bike paths because of the kids, walkers, slow adults and roller bladers. Cyclists should ride no more than two abreast in traffic, too.  Recently in Savannah, the City banned bikes from the Squares and I went before the Council and told them my people didn't object to the ban, but if they force us to ride in the streets downtown, they should do something to make it safer for cyclists.  They just got about $35,000,000.00 of projects added to the TIP for the next 25 years for bike lanes, etc. It appears the motorists do not understand the cyclists' dilemma, but the cyclists themselves should obey the traffic laws! We need a STATEWIDE education program directed at motorists, we need a STATEWIDE education program for cyclists to obey the traffic laws.
Posting from Pat McHenry, Columbus, GA:

I've just ridden BRAG and the end of the ride at St.Simon's Island is a case study in why we should NOT advocate bike paths and why we should protect our rights to the roads.

When BRAG's twenty-five hundred riders--who had negotiated their way safely and without conflicts with drivers across 400 miles of Georgia roads--faced the bike path at St. Simon's, chaos reigned.  The path at St.Simon's is indistinguishable from
a sidewalk; driveways and roads cross it in such a way that cars making turns would never think to look for cyclists coming from its odd angles; the path runs on just one side of the road, thus making cyclists ride against traffic; the path is full of trash and glass; the path is not wide enough to accommodate two-way bike traffic; the path does not go where roads go.  At BRAG, traffic was bad, moving slowly, and even though bikes could easily mix in with cars, a redneck in a Jeep was screaming at the cyclists: "Get the f*** off the road."

When paths are built, motorists expect cyclists off the road and out of their way, even if the path does not go where the cyclist wants to go, is full of glass, and puts them in more danger than they would be on the road.

The Atlanta Journal-Cconstitution letter is right to point out that cyclists need to follow traffic laws.  That's where education comes in.  Toward the end, however, the letter is expressing, though less crudely, what that idiot redneck was screaming out his window: Now that you have a path, get out of my way, regardless of where you're going.

My experiences biking daily to work, riding BRAG twice, and riding some urban bike paths including the ones on St. Simon's, Jekyll Island, and to St. Mark's  in Florida, make me more and more an advocate for education and signs, and less and
less for bike paths.
Posting from Keith W. McFadden  trails@sorba.org, Director of Trail Maintenance Southern Off-Road Bicycle Assn.
Quoted from the letter in the AJC:

"Why do people wish to have bike paths built when the ones we have now are not used?   I live and drive very near the bike path that allows one to go from Decatur to Stone Mountain, I am told, and yet I see dozens of idiots riding in the street adjacent to the path. Why?"

This is the main reason why so many of us cyclists are opposed to bike paths. It is the quickest way to loose the right to the road.. They are nothing but sidewalks, but people expect us to use them no matter what.

I am an advocate for bike trails: Mountain Bike trails! If we had even a fraction of the money spent on 'paths' such as the Silver omet, we could build hundreds of miles of quality sustainable off-road opportunities for all levels of riders. But when it comes to roads, I like cycle-friendly roads, good shoulders, the ability to actually get somewhere I need to go, not where some path wants to take me.
Posting from  Richard Stanford:

Why people want bike paths built in Metro Atlanta as well as most of Georgia may be a subconscious reaction to the fact that there are rare places in Georgia where there's a striped shoulder a bike could ride in on busy streets. Unless you are very experienced, somewhat of a daredevil, and have a large sense of self-confidence, riding on the streets of Metro Atlanta or on country roads populated with pickup trucks traveling at high speed, cycling in Georgia on streets is scary and dangerous. Give me a greenway like the Silver Comet in my backyard, and stretch it north and south, east and west until I can ride it anywhere I want.  Or consider something else...

Go to St. Pete Beach, FL or most of hilly-to-mountainous Maine or most of New Hampshire or Southwest, Colorado (places I've been this summer) and you'll see nearly every road lined with a yellow or white strip, often labeled "Bike Path," and the drivers considerate of cyclists. And in those places people are out every day on their bikes doing everything from shopping, to touring, to racing cross country. Bicycles shops abound in those places, too so that the visitor can rent very fine bikes at reasonable prices. For instance, this past Monday morning on top of Cadillac Mountain near Bar Harbor, ME, I met five cyclists from Detroit who had just ridden from Bar Harbor to the top of the mountain. Three of the five had rented at different shops in that town. One of the cyclists said the shop he rented from even installed another gearing cassette at his request at no extra charge.

Why can't we have that lined area for bikes on our Georgia roads... all of them except the interstates?
A rebuttal from Pat McHenry, Columbus, GA :

I think bike lanes make sense on rural roads (though really only a couple feet of shoulder accomplishes the same thing).  In the city, I'm not so sure. What does a cyclist do when he wants to turn left?  Experienced cyclists will know to merge over and
make left turns from the left lane or turning lane, but motorists will be angry because a bike is out of its segregated spot.  Inexperienced cyclists will probably try to turn left from the bike lane, which would be a dangerous maneuver indeed.
Right-turning motorists must turn across the bike lane, possibly into the paths of bikes. In any case, no facility can replace education.  A reasonably skilled cyclist is much safer on plain old roads with regular traffic than an untrained cyclist would be on striped roads.  Cyclists will be safer when motorists and cyclists alike are trained to follow simple, ordinary traffic laws.  No bike path and no lane will change this reality.

I guess I don't understand this comment, "Give me a greenway like the Silver Comet in my backyard, and stretch it north and south, east and west until I can ride it anywhere I want."

I'm not against greenways for recreation and preservation.  But only when you stretch this greenway onto every street in Georgia will cyclists be able to go where they want. We must be vigilant in opposing segregated facilities.  If we aren't, we might find ourselves only able to go where the path goes, and when bike paths compete with roads for funding and maintenance, guess who wins.
A posting from Rob:

I wonder if there are at least two bike cultures out there. One culture consists of people like those on this list.  I imagine, or at
least hope, that most people who take the time to subscribe to this list are also the people who obey most traffic laws, don't regularly practice critical mass at the expense of motorists and use at least the minimum required amount of reflection and lighting. I don't think this article is aimed at these people. Another consists of the kids who don't have the experience and wisdom of also being licensed car driving adults and know what it's like to have a crazy bicyclist being dangerous on the streets.  Many of these kids simply don't know any better. Part of the answer to this question is rather simple, though time
consuming.  Bicycle education in the schools.  And check this out, doesn't have to cost the schools that much.  I tried to coordinate that this year through the ABC with one of my schools.  Unfortunately it didn't get off the ground for a variety of reasons, but I think they are all manageable.

I challenge everyone on this list to contact their children's school, or if you don't have kids, the closest school to your house to see if the principal will allow some useful education to take place under his/her roof.

Then there's the adults who know better and just don't care.  These are probably the same people, or friends with the folks who lean out their windows and invite us to become intimate with ourselves. These bicyclists probably do the most damage for the rest of us and I fear little will change with them.

Part of my point is the irony of the people on this list responding to the article because I don't think that article is about us.  At least I hope it isn't.
Mark wrote:
Let me play Devil's Advocate and note, I seriously doubt non-cycling motorists place cyclists into more than one
category...  1. The annoying ones who don't belong on the roads, i.e., that's all of us who ride bicycles.
Posting from Royce Smith:

I live in rural  county in SE GA. After I began cycling as an adult 7 years ago, I discovered that some people do not realize that cyclists have a right to the road. Also, I assumed that motorists were ignorant due to their rude behavior when encountering me on the roads. Others admitted their ignorance of the law to me during casual discussions about my cycling.

I help direct an organized ride in our county, and when submitting articles to the newspaper for promotion, I always mention cyclist's right to use the roads. These newspaper articles about our organized ride have also mentioned that cyclists spend money when they visit our county. I feel the local motorists have become more tolerant of cyclists since they now realize that
cyclists are a financial benefit. I have not kept any records, but it seems to me that motorists who use our county roads are more tolerant of cyclists. Motorists who use county roads most likely live in the county. I assume their tolerance might be due to the possibility that they have read the articles in the local newspaper. Motorists, who use state highways and who travel through our county, are less likely to have read articles about cycling in the local newspaper, and it seems they are less tolerant.

I certainly feel safer when cycling on local county maintained roads for two reasons: 1) there is less traffic, 2) the motorists there are more likely to know I have a right to be there also.  I believe that education is part of the solution to intolerant and discourteous motorists.

I also feel that gratitude and friendliness are effective. Even though I have a right to cycle the roads, when I ride, I assume that motorists do not know it.  Even motorists who know the law perceive us as an irritation, so I try to make my presence tolerable by being friendly. Generally, I wave to all motorists, even to those who give me the "one finger salute" and a blast of their horns. I get eye contact whenever possible and give a wave of gratitude to those who give me the right of way that is legally mine.

Sweet Onion Cyclists Meeting and Dinner

Don't miss our next club meeting to be held at Vallartas in Vidalia on Tuesday, August 14. Eating at 7:00, with fellowship and business meeting to follow.

Beginner's Ride a great success!
report by Lamar Martin <updated 7/23/01>

Royce Smith and David Perkins, both members of our club, and of the No Name Cyclists in Claxton, with help from Abe Glaser, Pegi Boatright and others, planned and hosted cyclists from Bellville, Claxton, Glennville, Statesboro, and Vidalia for a Beginner's Bicycle Ride.  The outing was designed for new cyclists or those who had not ridden in a while. It was an opportunity to begin or resume cycling and meet others who enjoy the sport.

A total of 30 riders attended, several had never bicycled more than a few blocks. We met at Gordonia-Altamaha State Park in Reidsville off Hwy 280 on Saturday July 7th at 8:00 AM. The pace was slow and leisurely.  The route was 18 miles of smooth, quiet, country roads. We attempted to remain in a pack; and stopped periodically to regroup when the pack became fragmented. A support vehicle with a cooler of PowerAde traveled with us. There was no charge for this event.

At first I was tempted to leave the crowd, and ride my usual pace, but was so glad I held back and talked to several new riders.  The fellowship on the road and at store stops and impromptu stops along the route was wonderful. As Pegi so aptly put it, "new riders need permission to ride a slow, comfortable pace." Otherwise, they feel like they are holding other riders up and they overexert themselves, which often means they won't be back.  We have all been there before.

It was very, very gratifying at the end of the ride, which turned out to be 20 miles, to witness the astonishment and pride the newbies were beaming with.  I didn't get to meet all the riders but wanted to especially mention Debra Kicklighter and Barbara Warthen who had never ridden more than 3 miles and were simply tickled to have ridden 20 miles.  No one sagged in, including several children who completed the ride.  I also enjoyed riding with Rhonda who was a veteran of the Bikefest in Metter, but had not ridden in a long time.  After the ride many of us met at Smith's Restaurant in Reidsville for the buffet lunch.  It was a very fun day, and I recommend it to new and old riders alike.

Next Beginner's Ride August 4
The next Beginner's Ride will be held on Saturday, August 4.  The ride will start and end at Gordonia-Altamaha State Park again. at 8:00 a.m.  Don't let the miles scare you.  You will be amazed how easily you can accomplish this with the help of fellow beginners, and experienced riders to help you learn effective cycling.  We will have a SAG wagon for anyone who needs a ride back to the Park.