The second morning of my Humane League fund raising ride on a track bike from Atlanta to Asheville started perfectly. The conversation had been started between Amanda and I weeks prior that I needed to eat at local vegetarian mainstay The Grit. I didn’t know whether I would have time for that or not after getting into town later than anticipated…but after a sluggish start to the morning (on a couch just slightly smaller than me) it was finally decided carb loading was a great idea! Which led to another late start, but it was worth it between the blueberry pancakes, soysage and conversation.
After a little to much coffee, riding through Athens north towards Helen was an awesome experience. It marked a departure from the paths I’d previously traveled. The beginning of more serious elevation changes and climbs up through towns that were barely there, all the way to Cleveland Georgia – the first sign of “civilization” after miles of depressing farm land and home of the ever-creepy baby land general (Cabbage Patch Kids).
The climbs were steady and not too exhausting, but a definitive change from the city terrain I generally deal with. The ride itself was great aside from bonking not far from the ‘Welcome to Helen’ sign. Shortly before that the road narrows, the cracks on the shoulder spread further to the center and the speed limit decreases, riding at around 5 o’clock this fact seemed to have escaped most of the drivers on the road.
Although my goal for the night was to make it to Helen (I was camping a few miles up Unicoi gap), I had hoped to make the climb up the gap to meet my buddy Lucas at our campsite. I made it as far as the Subway before my shaking and nausea from not fueling properly throughout the afternoon got to be too much. A conversation with my Outback Bikes track team captain and close friend Rudy prompted me to forgo the ego and save my body for the next morning.
Lucas met me, bringing with him a match day program from an Arsenal match. Which meant a hell of a lot to me, as I’ve followed the Arsenal since I was young with football being one of the biggest parts of my life. He and I met through our local club The Atlanta Silverbacks in the early stages of the Atlanta Ultras.
Lucas took me and my bike up the gap for an awesome night under a blanket of stars that I rarely ever see, and great conversation with a good friend who’s progress as an individual I have been continually inspired by.
We met a traveler named Drifter who had been traveling through the trails for several weeks, as he had become known to do every few years. The night was amazing, chilly and exactly what I needed. There aren’t words that I can use to explain how much I needed a night under the stars out in the elements with a good friend (even if it was just the side of the road right outside the beginning of the trails).
Between the light traffic and my naturally high stress level there were a few interesting if not embarrassing instances of night “terrors” including seeing non existent animals after waking up from a rather interesting dream (they were bushes). And jumping up ready to fight (in a two man tent) with Lucas reassuring me that everything was cool. Despite this I slept well and the next morning got a ride back down to where I had been picked up, to start on the grueling climbs up through the mountains.
The Humane League are still accepting donations through the end of the year for this event, and year-round for all our other endeavors. 100 percent of the proceeds go to working relentlessly to reduce animal suffering through grassroots education to change eating habits, and corporate campaigns to reform farm animal treatment.
See you on Day 3.