Happy New Year: Happy New Tour

[Sunday January 1, 2017, 46 miles (74 km) - Total so far: 46 miles (74 km)]

“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again”. Willie Nelson.

Loaded up and ready to go. Let's see how this rain gear works.

And I’m offf. Moving like a herd of turtles. Faster than a speeding snail, more powerful than a leaf on the wind. Darn I wish I hadn’t weighed my bike. Then I wouldn’t know I was pushing 121 pounds plus a Holliday fattened me up these steep North Georgia hills. If I didn’t know, I might have been able to convince myself that Clara weighed the same as always. Well, that would have been a stretch cause I struggled all day.

Even so, the excitement of finally, actually riding down the road, off into the unknown was overwhelming. Not even the rain, fog and cold temperatures could dampen my mood. I kept pinching myself to see if I were awake.

After a while of course, even the excitement of beginnings fades and the reality sinks in. The romance of dreaming and planning a tour becomes the reality of hard work and struggle. Also, with the weather, there’s not much to see so I do what I normally do in such situations, I turn inward and pay attention to my thoughts.

Typical North Ga. backroad.

In this case, I go back to yesterday and the fun I had being with good friends as they said goodby and wished me well. First of all were my kayaking buddies, people with whom I’ve trusted my life on those dangerous whitewater rivers. They drove all the way up from Atlanta in the rain and yes sleet to have beer and Mexican food and laugh and have a wonderful time. I know they are disappointed that we won’t be able to kayak at all next year but they know it’s something I’ve got to do and their support is so welcome.

Afterwards comes the goodby/New Years Eve party that Roger and Heidi throw for me. Great food, more friends, manhattens and of course, one last time to play music with the Choir Boys. We rocked out till midnight and brought in 2017 with a bang. Oh, am I going to miss playing music with you guys. No, this is not “The Last Friday” Roger.

My biking, kayaking and Pickens County Progress newspaper owner friend, Dan Pool came by this morning to see me off and prepair an article for the local paper. We tried to sum up what the trip entails but I’m wordy, or haven’t you noticed and I just keep rambling on. Dan will condense it all down to the proper length though. Hi to all my neighbors if you are reading this.

Suddenly, I’m pulled out of my pain numbing thoughts as a car drives by and the driver yells, “Way to go. Clara”. As it passes, I see Corgi stickers on the rear window and know it’s Avery, a veterinarian I’ve worked with. She stops, I stop, we smile, hug and think, what a small world. I’m so excited for her as she embarks down a new life as a relief vet, and we laugh at the prospect of perhaps seeing each other in Oregon where she might be working. All the best to one of the best Vets I know.

Chance meetings, this time with a friend. Small world Avery.

¬†Eventually I do creep into my destination, 46 miles away. I’m staying with my in laws in Gainesville, Georgia. First , I have to get through security. This might be the safest campsites/apartments ever. Haines and Carolyn make me feel right at home and Jeri is there serving me the traditional New Years dinner of Hoppin Johns for good luck. I’m thinking I’m a very lucky man right about now.

Trying to talk security into letting biker trash in.