John Roebling, Prostate Cancer, the PSA and Atlas Shrugged.

Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit.

Gainesville, Ga is pretty good place to live. North Georgia is considered the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. From various points in around Gainesville, besides views of Lake Lanier, you can see the mountains north of our town. The mountains that surround Dahlonega, Wakua Mountain near Clermont, and of course Mount Yonah near Helen are pretty neat. I love riding along Skitts Mountain on the way to the Chattahoochee river in Habersham County. Remember Lanier’s “Ode of the Chattahoochee”- “Out of the hills of Habersham, through the valley’s of Hall.” Anyway Johnson and Johnson had in Gainesville years ago a mill that I believe produced gauze for that company and it was called Chicopee Mills. The mill is now closed and still there and there is still a “Chicopee Community” with homes and a beautiful Church. Some of the land surrounding the mill was donated to the City of Gainesville, several hundred acres I believe, and within that a Golf course was constructed as well as  very nice mountain biking trails, “Chicopee Woods.”

The “Woods” are about 20 minutes from my house and about the same from my office. I have ridden what is called “the outer loop” probably 200 times. One time I decided to ride it while my son’s (who was about 9 at the time” baseball team was practicing. His team practiced about 2 hours so my plan was to get there, ride it, and get back to pick him up and get home. Well, Chicopee Woods at that time was rough acreage and the trails were poorly marked and I got lost. I ran out of water, the sun was going down, the thought of my son sitting at the baseball field “waiting on dad” was in my mind as I was frantically trying different routes to something I saw familiar. After about 3 hours I heard cars. Picking up my bike and going off the trail I was on to the sound of cars I ended up at a major highway the comes into Gainesville. I was about 3 miles south of Gainesville where I came out. I then rode my bike on the side of the highway to the first turn off and then to my car. When I got to the baseball field my son was sitting alone by the back stop.

“Sam I am so sorry. I got lost in Chicopee Woods.”

“No big deal,” he said.

Later when Sam was in high school I would pick him up at school on Thursdays (my day off) and we’d ride Chicopee. Often times a friend of his, Chase, would join us. It was a difficult one hour loop and I was always impressed that in 9th grade they could do the physical as well as the technical part  of the ride. We must have done that routine about 50 times and then one day I picked up Sam and Chase and had the bikes on top of my van all ready to go to Chicopee and Sam says getting into the car, ” I don’t want to ride today.”

We never rode again. I think I wasn’t cool. It happened about two-thirds the way through 9th grade. Man…it was a coming of age thing, a milestone, my youngest child…and it was over.

Anyway, I am listening to “Atlas Shrugged” in my care and then in the Walkman (remember those) while I am riding at Chicopee. Nothing better in the whole world that listening to music or a good historical book while riding. In the story the producers in life are so criticized and taxed, and villianized that one day the throw in the towel and decided to leave. In developing the entreperneureal spirit this class of people is a guy in book called Rearden. He developes , at great risk and expense , a new type of steel.  Stronger, lighter, cheaper and revolutionary. He makes a bridge with it and there is some doubt that the bridge will withstand the weight and stresses of a train going over it. The suspense comes to a climax when the bridge is finally built and all are awaiting the train to come along and make it safely over the bridge. If it is a success then Rearden’s risk and expense will mean a fortune.

I am listening to this part of story on my way home from Chicopee Woods about the time the story gets to the part of train going over the Rearden’s Steel Bridge I am pulling into my home. As I often do with books that I listen to, I will either slow down to be I finish a chapter or sit in the car to get past an interesting part. In this case I was dying to know if the steel was a success and that Rearden would be rich and famous. Just I am pulling down the driveway and then into garage and as the train makes its way to the mid portion and the author saying that the bridge is beginning feel the stresses of the power and weight of the train…my car with the bike on the top crashes into the garage.  It scared the hell out of me. At first I thought it was the sound effects from the train breaking the steel and crashing down into the gorge the bridge crossed. No, it was me running my bike into my house. The force of the crash broke the handle bar off the bike, bent the tire and pulled the luggage rack up and away from the car. There was dent and discoloration of the framing of the opening of the garage. The bike was now stuck between the van and the garage and with some trepidation I backed the van out and away further damaging all the points of the collision.

I take the bike to the bike shop and he gives me the options of what to do. A new bike or try to replace the front of the bike. “I can’t fix this but I can put on a handle bar and frame from another bike I have,” the guy says. I do that and for about three years ride a two-toned bike-the front was green the back was silver.

To be continued…got to cut a bit more grass at the lake and weed-eat my garden with the yellow jackets in it.

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