We continued past the boy scout camp on our adventure towards several small towns - Peidmont, Jacksonville and Weaver, which all things considered is part of Anniston, Al. What surprised me about the trail was the lack of depots. I was expecting rest stops in the form of small sheltered areas with bathrooms and water every so many miles on the trail much like the Longleaf Trail in Mississippi. Although there were gas stations in the towns at some of the cross roads, nothing was advertised well enough to get off the trail to search for it. In Piedmont, there was a small house - the Eubanks House that served as the town welcome center. It was a restored old home and it was staffed by a volunteer and had some minimal information about the trail. They also sold powerade, water and crackers for those that stopped while cycling.
As we were cycling towards the end of the trail, a comical thing occurred. We were cycling through the very quaint college town of Jacksonville. The college campus stood out proudly albeit quietly. Bill and I wondered if this was the college that beat Ole Miss a couple weeks back. I thought the small school was in Tennessee. As we continued cycling through the small campus we saw a women walking her dog near a stop sign. We stopped and asked her about the town and the college. Yes, this was the college that beat Ole Miss and she was very proud of it! We took a picture of Bill with the Jacksonville State sign for kicks and giggles. We also inquired as to a good place to eat on the trail and were directed to Struts a local sports gathering restaurant, not really a bar, that serves regular sports watching food. We decided to continue towards the end of the trail and stop by Struts on the way back.
Arriving at the end of the trail, I was underwhelmed. I really thought that the trail head would be really nice. They did have bathrooms and a small picnic area, but nothing shouting "Looky here! We have this great rails to trails"! Don't get me wrong, the trail itself is amazingly beautiful with the mountains flanking and the tree limbs covering, but it lacked the small depots and fan fare that a trail of this magnitude deserves. Bill and I took the required pics at the trail head and turned around headed for Struts.
At Struts, a decent chicken restaurant/sports bar similar to Abners, we both ordered BLT sandwiches and watched TN vs UAB on the TV. We then headed back to Cedartown. We noticed as we passed the Boy Scout camp that it did not look like the Scouts had returned. We guessed that we would not pass packs of them on the way home. Shortly we started passing very hot and tired looking little boys. They were very spread out - at least 5-6 miles from the first to the last. As we passed I would shout encouragement to each. One little boy I yelled asking how far they had gone. He did not skip a beat and answered "There and back!" Apparently, their total trip was 40 miles. Pretty good for boys on various bikes - mostly mountain bikes, all in shorts or jeans.
As we continued back to Cedartown we would encounter groups of people out riding. One group in particular was a group of black women of various ages and sizes. They stood out as they were all wearing white and blue baseball type t-shirts. Most of them were riding hybrid bikes. We did not talk to them very long, but they were very pleasant and seemed to be enjoying the trail.
We got back to the Cedartown trail head and much to my disappointment, the depot was closed. The biggest, nicest, well only, depot on the trail did not have much in the way of hours. We only had 92 miles so I somehow convinced Bill into venturing out to see how bad the hills were that our older cycling buddy had cautioned us about earlier in the day. And boy oh boy - never underestimate an overweight older guy with a Silver Comet baseball cap. He does know how bad the hills are! The 10 miles heading East from Cedartown are not, and I will repeat, NOT on a rail bed! These 10 miles just keep the trail heading toward the state line. There are several steep climbs over 10%. I think they hit 12% in a couple places. We only went out about 3 miles and decided to turn around. The glimpse of the hills was enough for us. We would tackle them in full the next day.
Part 3 later.....