The third day of my fixed gear ride to Asheville for The Humane League I woke up cold, changed clothes as cars passed us on their way up Unicoi Gap, and got ready to get myself moving. I got driven back down to where I had quit riding the night before, and proceeded to drink too much coffee and ate toast (the only animal friendly offerings at the Huddle House). Lucas left to go pick up our new friend Drifter to give him a ride somewhere so he could continue his travels hiking through the mountain.
I rode through downtown Helen past the rather preemptive Christmas decorations.. Looped back down towards my intended destination and on towards some insane climbs where I would lose signal. Come across some gravel patches I thought I had worked out of my travels forcing me off my planned route and exploring while really working against the local topography.
After around 30 some odd miles I got back on course and started working on some even more intense climbs up two-lane roads in what seemed to be completely empty roads despite the occasional work truck. Riding up and down winding roads that all seemingly went to more rural destinations than I intended on going.
After lots of climbing, ripping the crotch and thigh of my favorite bibs, and nearly running out of water I ended up in Tiger, Georgia to charge my phone and make use of the signal and scenic views. I found a local restaurant called “Grapes and Beans” where, upon finding they had a few great vegan options, promptly posted my worn out self up on their back porch to sew up my kit and inhale two sandwiches and more coffee and water.
I made some light conversation with a local group of vegans in the area from Atlanta to go hiking. This was the recharge I needed to push through the last twenty some odd miles. The coming ride was less rural but just as beautiful, coming across beautiful mountain views every half mile mostly rolling hills and light descents. Until the last 9 miles, which quickly made themselves stand out as the most difficult riding I have done in my entire life.
Climbing all the way to the top of the mountain passing between the Georgia state line to North Carolina and vice versa three or four times. Stopping every half mile to mile-and-a-half to catch my breath and relieve the strain on my legs and stretch.
I pushed myself harder than I ever have, huffing and puffing, struggling and persevering all the way up to “The Mountain Retreat” Unitarian church. This was hands down the high point of achievement for me on this trip and potentially my entire career on two wheels. The staff there were beyond kind and interested in what I was doing, offering me not only a discount on the room for the evening, but also collected money to donate to my fundraising efforts (this same day I was advised that an anonymous donor had agreed to double all donations for our area until the end of the year bringing my total for the animals to nearly 1.5 more than what I had initially intended).
The view from their breath taking back porch and viewing station alone was worth the climb. It really helped me sit back for awhile and put things into perspective. Reflect on the lives of not only the farm animals whose lives we were tying to improve and spare, but also the world as a whole. With all of the negativity and stress and doom and gloom that has been enveloping most of society for what seems like the past few years. It didn’t reach here, the world was scenic and mesmerizing and magical. It was an experience that helped remind me that the world and all of its inhabitants are a gift that we easily take for granted and ignore, and destroy daily. This epiphany and connection to the world that I had been missing was worth the whole trip…admittedly a warm shower and a sleeping space that all of me could fit on was a close second. I connected to WiFi, talked to my wife for a little while on video chat, and made stupid noises at my cats…shortly thereafter I passed out while trying to find music to listen to on my phone.
We are still accepting donations till the end of the year with all donations tripled until the end.