The crew has been scheduling a daytrip over to the Suwanee River for about 2 months. As with any good trip involving more than one person, scheduling conflicts were the rule, rather than the exception. We finally settled on this past Sunday, and with the exception of Derwood(who chose to go race his skinny tire bike instead), everyone managed to get their ducks in a row.
Choose your Universal Higher Being, be it God, Yahwe, Buddha, or Fat Albert. He, She, It, did it's best to take me out of the mix. I spent the majority of Saturday either helping my Mom deal with a rotten meat filled freezer(no power for 2 weeks!), or hanging at her house as part of mine and my wife's birthday celebrations. On the way home from Quincy that night, my alternator died. We barely limped home, the last mile or so in the dark, as there was no longer enough juice in the battery to keep the lights running. I barely kept the engine running! My truck was supposed to be part of the next day's transport systems. So much for that. After calling my Dad to postpone the next afternoon's birthday festivities at his house, this would leave me time to fix the truck when I returned from the roadtrip, I conned my poor wife into dropping me off with rest of the crewers at 7:30 the next morning. For those who know me, this caused way more stress than I would have liked, but the trip was still on, I was still in the mix.
At 7:30 we're all in the prescribed parking lot, on time and stoked! Except maybe my Ol' Lady, she wasn't quite as stoked, but she still got a kick out of a bunch of 30 and 40 somethings chattering and playing like 2nd grade school girls on their first field trip. We load all of our bikes and gear into Ken;s truck, and we're off. All along, Marcus and I are picturing the often talked about, White Springs trails on the Suwanee River. Ken produces maps, and we realize that the latest Ken-venture is already starting to unfold. We are getting off the Interstate way earlier than expected, and are riding trails on the opposite side of the river and much further north than the White Springs trails. Oh well, Ken-ventures in the past have been good, so I'm all in. We unload in a typical Ken-venture parking lot(usually a wide piece of ditch). Immediately we have to grab Wrecking Ball by the legs! Pterodactyl size mosquitoes are trying to carry him away! Marcus steps out and realizes we're parked in a carpet of poison ivy. Immediately his phobias kick into overdrive. We filled a small kiddie pool with DEET, and he proceeded to immerse himself. While he's doing laps, bikes are being unloaded, bike clothes are donned, gear double checked. Wait, maybe we should have done that last back at the start. It seems Wrecking Ball has left his front wheel about an hour west of our current location!
After some deliberation, and by deliberation I mean, after listening to a whole lot of Irish cursing, I tell him to call and sweet talk his wife into getting his wheel and meeting him halfway. In the meantime we'll choose a direction, ride for 30-45 minutes and return to regroup. Luckily for everybody involved, Mrs. Wrecking Ball agrees and the new plan is in motion. Typical Ken-venture, this time through no fault of Ken's, aside from who he chooses to associate with.
Wrecking Ball roars off in a cloud of dust, and the rest of us choose the southerly route first. The trail is rather wide, actually it started out as a major unpaved thoroughfare. We finally turned into the woods on something more akin to fairly hard packed firebreak trails. Within a reasonable amount of time, we'd lost all track of the trail blazes. Typical Ken-venture. Marcus voted against returning to find our mistake, in favor of simply finding the river. That boy has an infatuation with large bodies of water. I think he may have gone swimming had he not been afraid it would have washed away several layers of his bug protection! Once we found the river and chilled for a few minutes we began our return in hopes that H.W.B. was able to find our original parking spot. There was a little bit of concern there.
On the way back, we stopped at a small, family cemetery. Most of the Stones up front showed dates in the late 1800's. When we looked more closely, we realized they were mostly children, many less than a year, and some not even a month old. It really made me want to do some research to see if there was some sort of epidemic that spread through that area during that era. Perhaps children just didn't survive back then. Makes you thankful for modern medicine.
As soon as we rolled out from the cemetery, Wrecking Ball rounded the corner with his wheel. Well timed! We'd already ridden an hour and a half, so we all ate while W.B. put his bike and gear together.
The northern route started out as singletrack, which was much more promising. It also led us much more quickly to the river. It really is cool riding the high bluffs over that steady black water. The trails never got very technical or challenging, but the view was good. We continued north for another 1-1.5 hours, taking breaks at the better overlooks. Eventually we arrived at a park area with benches along another nice bluff. We sat around for awhile and watched the river make its way south. Conversation migrated around to food, and it was all over. We remounted and continued on our way, but the calling of food was too strong. We'd been riding for about 3 hours and everyone was feeling tired of Clif bars and Gu. When the trail popped out on Highway 90, a quick decision was made to take the road for a few miles back to the dirt road that parallelled the river, and led back to the truck. Luckily the plan played out well, and we shaved a good hour or more off of the ride back.
We decide to take 90 back home. The plan was to find a mom-n-pop style, BBQ joint. No love on the BBQ, but we did find a cool, all you can eat southern food buffet. The place was packed with Madison County residents, fresh from church. I thought we might look a little outlandish, until I saw some of the church outfits. We were good. Once I discovered the homemade chicken and dumplings, I considered moving to Madison. There is just no need for food to be that good!! We ate until we were bloated, and then went for the cobbler desserts! Wash it all down with true Southern sweet tea, and consider yourself truly satiated!