Five days into the Tour de Georgia, I’ve finally driven the roads that remind me why I appreciate bicycle racing. The route for stage 5 took the field from Suwanee to Dahlonega, and at 133 miles, it was the longest day of the weeklong race. The alternate route from Lake Lanier Island (where the entourage stayed after stage 4) to the finish was much shorter — only a 90-minute drive.
I took the roads less traveled. The freeway ended after 35 miles with a sudden left-hand turn onto Duncan Bridge Rd.
Farmlands with twisting single-lane roads featured ideal scenery — abandoned, weather-beaten barns, rusted farm equipment, country stores advertising boiled peanuts.
This week, I’m driving a Kia Optima, the Korean manufacturer’s mid-level sedan. It negotiated the roads well, cornering nicely and accelerating short, steep inclines with little effort.
About 15 miles from the finish, I drove through an intersection and right past a small gas station that prompted a double-take. About a mile down the road, I turned around to further investigate what appeared to be phenomenally low gas prices.
And, of course, it was too good to be true. The building was vacant, with a large, front window revealing a trashed interior. The gas pump cords were slashed, and yet the gas price signs of yesteryear remained. No one was around to ask how long the station has been closed or whether Thomas’ Deer Cooler is still open for business.