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November 21st 2003
Published: November 21st 2003
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Pine Mountain, 11.21.03

While it without a doubt a joy to wake up to a cold, clear mountain morning and the sight of a crescent moon rising, I’ve never found much patience while waiting for a tent to dry.

If a tent is packed away while it is still wet, then mildew is sure to set in, and soon the tent will be worthless. As I woke up at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia, all I really wanted to do was get into Columbus, Georgia,. Instead I found myself sitting at a concrete picnic table, watching the sun slowly rise over the hills around me. The squirrels were chattering away in the trees, and occasionally running from the odd red tail hawk, while the geese competed with the ducks for scavenging rights in the campsites.

The day before I had arrived at Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park, outside of Warm Springs, Georgia, the home of FDR’s “little White House.” I wasn’t aware until I began a slow, steady climb up the hills that there were any mountains in western Georgia to speak of. But according to the historical markers, FDR particularly enjoyed the vista offered by Dowdell’s Knob at 1,500 feet. I particularly enjoyed the prospect of a fast descent down what the locals called “the mountain,” although I didn’t think it measured up to the Blue Ridges. I certainly did not think that Dowdell’s Knob measured up to Mt. Pisgah, which I had struggled up earlier in my trip.

As I had been registering at the front office, I had spotted a “Veterans for Peace” bumper sticker on the back of a car, and so I followed the car to the campsite and struck up a conversation with occupants. Ray and Vivian were a retired couple from Michigan who had come down for the SOA vigil while traveling around the country and visiting some of their ten children. While they had been faithful Catholics, they described themselves as having “moved past church,” and were more interested in serving the poor than on serving on another parish committee. Over dinner we discussed faith, peace, Bishop Gumbleton of the Detroit diocese and botany, and promised each other to meet up again at the front gates of Fort Benning.

Man a person stopped by my campsite to comment upon how lightly I was traveling. One man pointed out the irony that I had arrived with just a little trailer behind my bike, holding no more than a fair-sized duffle bag, while the quarter million dollar RV couldn’t find a place to park. I hadn’t been able to find room for a television, satellite dish or water bed in my trailer, but I didn’t feel at all deprived in my one-man pup tent next to the massive, glowing RV’s. Truth be told, I felt like I was pulling too much stuff behind me, but compared to the RV’s, I was definitely traveling light with less than 60 pounds of gear.

My Yankee mother will probably be dismayed that as I was conversing with a fellow camper, I was asked, “Now, do I hear a Virginia accent?” I’ve lived in Norfolk for eight years now, and as I rode through the South I found myself drawling out my vowels in likeness to the voices I heard everyday. To my fellow campers Alabaman ears, my accent had traveled south of the Mason-Dixon line. One day y’all might understand.

I spent the morning counting the water droplets on my tent, itching to get into Columbus and get a little more ink under my skin. Since I had arrived in Asheville I had contemplated getting a permanent “chainring .” In bicycling circles a chainring is a temporary phenomena, the mark of inadvertently brushing a leg up against a greasy chain and front chainring. With some diligent scrubbing it will wash off in the shower, but it nonetheless marks a person as a bicyclist. During my day off in Asheville, North Carolina I had researched bicycle chainrings, looking for a suitable illustration to base a permanent upon. I visited the public library and several bookstores looking for the perfect picture, but to no avail. It was only after I had visited the local bikeshop that I found what I was looking for in the Shimano products catalog- a precise and well-lit photograph of a triple-ring road set.

The “crankset” is the front half of a bicycle drive train, consisting of the pedal arms and chainrings. I wanted a road set, since I so I rarely road a mountain bike. I also wanted a set with three chainrings, as opposed to two. Triple sets are found predominantly on touring bikes, like the one that has taken me two thousand miles. I wanted a that would symbolize my passion for bicycle touring.

While I was not able to find a studio in Asheville or Athens that could do the job on my schedule, I did some research on the web and found a studio in Columbus, Georgia that seemed to fit the bill. Located right next to an Army base, I figured that the artists at Superior Skin would have plenty of practice, and their website listed numerous awards won at conventions. And so it was with growing impatience that I found myself watching a tent dry, itching to get under the needle.


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