Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Lost in My Own Hometown.....

It is widely known that I am directionally challenged. If I go into a building, I have no idea how to get out. I can't sit in my living room and point to the state park that is across the road from where we live. I can follow directions to get anywhere in the world (well....), but I can't simply leave and go back the way I came. (Thank you, thank you, thank you sites like Google Maps and Mapquest that give you the "reverse directions" option.) My GPS is my best friend.

This past Saturday, I finally made good on my promise to myself that I would take my bicycle to our tailgating spot and burn some of that pre-game energy by riding my bike. It would have made way too much sense to do that on one of those days when kickoff was at 3:30 or 4:00 or 7:30. No, I chose to (finally) take my bike on a day when kickoff was at 1:30. That meant I needed to be back around 12:00 so I could get ready and leave for the walk to the stadium at 12:30. That meant I needed to ride my bike around 10:00 or 10:30. That meant it was around 40 degrees.

I don't DO 40 degrees on my bicycle.

But after I hauled it all the way to Athens, I felt obligated to ride it.

I have been wanting to ride the North Oconee River Greenway, a bicycle/pedestrian trail that I knew was near our tailgating spot. Gus and I left walking one Saturday trying to find it, but while I could find the river (I'm directionally challenged but thankfully not stupid), I couldn't find the greenway. Then Rozmo and I did a ride in Athens about a month ago, and we found the beginning of the greenway. Smug in my new knowledge, I took off on Saturday (40 degrees, remember) for a short ride on the greenway.

My short ride on the greenway turned out to be about three-quarters of a mile. Because that's when I lost the path. I know the town, however, so I didn't feel "lost" so much as "confused" about how I lost the path. And so quickly. Then I became determined to find the path again, and I kept riding.

I wound up on a 4-lane highway that I knew ended at another 4-lane highway. A U.S. highway to boot. The greenway didn't show up on my GPS (see, I was never really lost), but it did show up on my iPhone. It showed up near the intersection where the two 4-lane highways crossed. ( that redundant?) I kept riding, looking for a gate or a sign or some indication of the greenway, and I found myself inside a huge flea market-type thing where people rent tables and sell their worthless junk items. That wasn't where I wanted to be. Checking the iPhone again, I saw that I had passed the greenway and evidently see it. So I turned around, more alert and observant this time. I noted the name of a road that would indicate I had gone back too far, and yep, there it was. I checked the iPhone again, and what I thought was the greenway on the screen was actually a railroad. An actual railroad. One that trains use. I could have turned on it to get back to town, but I'm really not that good.

I was faced with two unpleasant choices. I could A) turn right on the busy 4-lane U.S. highway; or B) turn around (again) and go back the way I came. For some reason, I am against backtracking on my bike. Ultimately I chose that option, though, and returned to our tailgating location almost the same way I came. (I told you I can't go back the same way.) I got back to the intersection nearest our parking lot, flung my left arm out confidently to indicate a turn, and then realized the lot was straight ahead. (See what I mean?)

It wound up being only about a 13-mile ride, which wasn't bad considering the amount of time I had (some of which I spent stopped on the side of the road, scratching my head and scrolling along a RAILROAD on my iPhone) and the chilly temperatures. I know now where I made my mistake, and we have one more home game this Saturday for me to try again. Maybe I can manage TWO miles before I miss a turn.

And kickoff is at noon. Maybe I should leave tonight.

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