27th May 2016 Conyers, Ga to Lake Oconee, Ga 94.4 kms - 58.7 miles Up = 682m - Down = 718m
27th May 2016 - Conyers, Georgia to Lake Oconee, Georgia
Even though we didn't have a long day planned on the bike today, we were all up at our normal "get up" time (around 6:00 am) as we planned to visit a nearby Monastery before we left. We were too tired to do so after yesterday’s ride – so after breakfast we all piled into the van and drove the couple of miles back to it.
It was a lovely spot and very interesting and I was glad to visit - it would have been a shame not to when we were so close!! It is the sort of place you could spend a lovely day at, as they do tours of their heritage centre, garden centre, bonsai collection and as well have a cafe and store. Frequently they have special events going on in the grounds that would be great! After a quick tour around – it was back to our warmshowers hosts, on to our bikes and we were off!! There were various route options available to us today and I decided to see what the traffic was like as to what option we would take. What our hosts had advised us was – don’t miss the "Red Caboose" for coffee in Rutledge, and be sure to go through Madison to look at the glorious stately homes from the past.
As it was a Friday and the start of a long weekend here (Memorial Day on Monday) I wasn't sure how heavy the traffic would be. We wove our way across to the 278 from our stop. A mixture of roads – some with shoulder and some without – and I must say a bit more traffic than I thought, but I also discovered - there were more houses than I thought, so one goes with the other! While it seems they are tree-lined roads in the country – there are frequent “named” areas (some gated, some not) where there are subdivisions of houses. I guess we were riding through at a time a lot of these people were driving to work.
We had a couple of “incidents” early in the day. Firstly Annie couldn’t find her helmet (with mounted GoPro camera) when we were ready to leave! It took 4 sets of eyes searching – and eventually it was located.
The next incident could have been an absolute disaster for me – and for Don if he wasn’t such an outstanding cowboy!!!! Without doubt – I named Don – “Rider of the Day” – in fact – he could be “Rider of the Tour” – but we still have 6 days to ride!!
As many of you may know – I mainly ride wearing runners instead of cleated bike shoes (which I put on for really hilly days). Now this has NEVER happened to me before as I usually tuck the laces on my right hand foot (chain side of the bike) into the sides of my shoe. Well on a narrow stretch of road with quite a bit of traffic – suddenly I couldn’t pedal – my pedal seemed stuck!!! I didn’t know what was happening. Annie yelled out from behind that my shoe-lace was caught in the chain!!! I tried to stop but couldn’t get that foot free and it is normally the one I use to put down to stop. I was slowing down and a very ungraceful dismount with possible serious injury was looming!!! I did start to panic – I tried to get my left foot down but for some reason I am un-coordinated and just couldn’t do this. THEN – DON TO THE RESCUE!!! Thank goodness someone could think at a time of panic – he accelerated up the inside of me and said for me to fall into him!!! I feared that with my weight, we would both go down in a heap on the side of the road, but any other options were unthinkable!! It was kind of like how they rescue cowboys after they have completed their ride at a rodeo!!
The good news is – right at the crucial time of my sideways collapse into Don – the lace broke free!!! What a relief!!!!! (for Don as well as me). I tell this story as I believe there is photographic evidence of me re-tying my slightly chain-mangled shoe-lace!!! Thank goodness Annie didn’t have the go-pro turned on for this act!!! I can also say now - as I write this - my runners now have elastic laces that don't have loose bits that can get anywhere near the chain!
A breathed a big sigh of relief – it had flashed before my eyes that my ride was over!!! We continued uneventfully to Covington and sensing the traffic wasn’t too bad – opted to stay on the 278 route. This took us over the Interstate 20 – which didn’t really look that busy either at this point.
Despite all of us whistling Dixie – we missed the first turnoff on to the Dixie Highway just west of Rutledge. I wasn't too perturbed as I knew it just ran parallel to the road we were on and what I really wanted to do was ensure that from Rutledge to Madison we were on the Dixie Highway. A couple of miles down the road, we turned off the 278 into Rutledge and found the highly recommended "Red Caboose" eatery – so had a very yummy early lunch. Freshly squeezed, bottomless glasses of homemade lemonade were a hit as thirst-quenchers. Rutledge is a dear little town and we were a bit sad that we couldn’t be in that town for tomorrow - as signs were up that a fair was to be held!
It was very easy to get on the Dixie Highway through to Madison – which is another beautiful town - much larger than Rutledge. The road was pretty flat as it was alongside the railway line – and whilst called a “Highway” is in effect the 3rd road along this stretch so carries little traffic. The homesteads along this road and into Madison are stunning – out of this world mansions really – and some date back a good number of years.
Back on the 278 out of Madison and it was an unbelievably quiet road traffic wise with not a real wide shoulder – but at least no rumble strips to be seen (or felt) so we could use it all. It was a very pleasant ride and I will admit that my legs are getting a bit ride weary – but I managed the 3 reasonable climbs along this stretch without too much trouble.
We arrived at the North Shore Lake Oconee KOA campground – and we always get a good feeling pulling into KOA camps. Ownership had changed since I made the arrangements but the new owners were great and put us on a fabulous site – close to the conveniences – and with a view of the Lake through the trees. Again this is a beautiful spot where I would certainly spend more time than just one night!!! It is probably the busiest campground we have stayed at – on account of Memorial Weekend – but I love the way they allow pets ………… of course …… when I saw a Boston Terrier walk by – I had to go and meet “Lola”.
I will give you that this campground is big and covers a fair few acres - but I am gob-smacked at the number of people who use golf-carts to move around the grounds. There is a social room - and quite a line of carts outside owned by the people who have gone there to play "Bingo". Many people seem to take their dogs for a walk on them - except the dog doesn't walk - it sits on the seat beside them!! I find it so amusing ........ and I have to say - extremely lazy.
It was a shame our lovely peace was broken by a large RV coming into camp at a site right opposite ours at 10 o'clock - when we were just getting to sleep. Sadly it wasn't into a drive through site and the guy was not good at reversing his 5th wheeler. It sounded like he took 100 attempts backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards and it was closer to 11 pm before he was all settled. At one stage he seemed to come awfully close to our van and tent, and I think Annie feared they were going to be run over. Grrrrrrrrr - by that time I couldn't get back to sleep!!