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Posts from the ‘local routes’ Category

rabbit, fox … and turtle

Some cyclists are fleet like rabbits, some quick or clever like foxes … as for me, I am more like a turtle.  Usually getting waylaid on the side of the road with my camera, and having to be prodded to get moving.  Eventually I manage to get where I am going.

Yesterday we decided to explore some new territory.  I’ve had a local route book on my shelf for almost a year now – (Chattanooga area) Bicycling Routes by Elle Colquitt.  It’s filled with nice maps, cue sheets, and route descriptions for some interesting-looking rides in the Chattanooga area and into north Georgia.  I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t made as much as much use of it as I should.  I tend to be a creature of habit, and end up riding my favorite roads more often than  exploring new ones.  Like I said, I am a turtle.

While many of the routes would (realistically) necessitate driving to some not-so-nearby starting point, one of the routes begins almost out my front door.   It’s called “Chasing Down the Rabbit and the Fox”, named for Rabbit Valley Road and Black Fox Road.

I am guessing that nearly half of the photos on this blog come from points along Rabbit Valley Road and White Oak Valley; they are the roads we tend to ride a lot.  They are beautiful and bicycle friendly.  I have established friendships with many cows along the way. But a good portion of the Black Fox Road side of the loop was new and un-ridden territory for us … so we decided to give it a go.  And I am glad we did.

I would describe the route as very easy – a great leisurely Sunday ride for us turtle-types.  Mostly gently rolling, good pavement, low traffic.  The hillier parts are ones we are already familiar with, on the White Oak Valley side.  One very short “whoop-y” little climb, but otherwise easy on the legs and lovely to the eye.  We ran across several other small groups of cyclists along the way, which makes me believe it is a pretty popular route.  And while I took some photos, I was focussed on taking in the new scenery and enjoying the ride.  So much so that I didn’t pay enough attention to regularly sipping from my water bottles, and ended up with a post-ride sun/dehydration headache.  Dumbness.

The first of April brings another #30daysofbiking to the table.  I applaud several of my friends who are making a go of it again – Myrna, BlueAllez (aka FritterMan), and DIsabled Cyclist.  While I really enjoyed my past experiences with both #30daysofbiking, and my subsequent #330daysofbiking, I have debated about committing to another. I may, I may not.  We’ll see.  At this point, I am not officially putting my name on the list, but may try and keep a Flickr set – one photo from each day.  If I make it through to the end, I may write a post.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, a tip of my cycling cap to my friends – and I wish you all many happy miles and adventures.  For me, silly business as usual … and a few scenes from yesterday.

(Can you spy the cyclist?)

riding through puddles

The weather continues to mystify me.  Heavy rains and severe storms have rolled through the area, and to see tornado destruction in AL and AR in January is mind boggling.  I cannot bear the thought of a repeat of last spring – and we’re still in the middle of what is supposed to be winter.

Rain or not, I needed to get out today.  It was gusty but warm, and I revisited a road I hadn’t ridden in quite a while.  Cows, barns, creeks (overflowing) and plenty of mud. But I still have fun riding through puddles…

#30daysofbiking Day 17: bikes, tennis, rock-and-roll

home again - front yard (boys say I am starting a collection of bikes-leaning-against-tree photos 😉

A long and very multi-faceted day.  Grant left before 7am to attend the annual two-day HS tennis tournament at the Champions Club in Chattanooga.  Mark and I spent most of the morning dropping off garbage; literally.  Today was Household Hazardous Waste day, and we had a small pile of old paint, batteries, and miscellaneous “hazardous materials” to dispose of.  Quite a line of people waiting to go through the drop (a good thing).  We also made a stop at the landfill to drop off some recycling and a few other things.  Sorry to say, it was too much of a load to attempt by bike.

quick 8.6 miles around my "block"

Mark was kind enough to let me sneak in a quick ride “around the block” while he finished up some yard work (that I should have been helping with).  “Around the block” is basically the shortest loop I can make out of our house, and a nice little ride.  A couple good hills, lots of woods.  And also the requisite cows, a few mules, a few sheep, and a little white pony. 😉  Not much in the way of distance, but I simply had to stay faithful to the #30daysofriding.

We wanted to see Grant play, so we headed to the Champions Club just in time to see a great match – close, some wonderful volleys, but ultimately a loss.  He played 6 matches over the course of two days, a few wins, a few losses.  But one really great singles win – coming from behind to win in a tie-breaker.

Came home briefly to clean up and get ready for Round 2: the boys’ band, The Night Shines, were playing a concert at the Warehouse in East Ridge. I think Grant must have been pretty exhausted after 2 days of tennis, but it didn’t stop him.   They sound better and better each time, and I think they’re ready to be some serious contenders in next weekend’s Battle of the Bands.

It was a very long day … but never any shortage of good entertainment!

Grant: he's a tennis champ by day ...

... and a crazy bass guitarist by night!

the stuff we see

A beautiful day for the road ... Mark on Meadowview Rd, Hamilton Co.

It was a lovely January day this past Saturday – temps near 60’F, and the sun poked its head out for a while.  Mark and I took a nice road ride for the first time in too many weeks, over into Hamilton County and one of our favorite loops off of Ooltewah-Georgetown Road.

I guess it’s that time of year, because we saw and heard lots of Sandhill Cranes.  This area lies along one of their popular migration paths, and every winter we are lucky to have them stop and visit.  Up until 2008 (?) the TWRA with the help of several local organizations had held an annual Crane Festival at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Birchwood.  From what I could find, the event no longer takes place … but the cranes still come to the area in the tens of thousands.

They have a very distinctive and unusual call, and one day last winter I remember hearing them flying overhead – for nearly 3 straight hours.  An endless parade of cranes kept coming and coming; I had never seen so many.  It was truly awe-inspiring.

There is one corn field along our bike route where I have often seen the cranes stop and congregate.  As we were riding by on Saturday, sure enough, they were there.  While I was attempting to take a few pictures of them on the ground, several of them took to the air above my head.

Sandhill Cranes overhead

I’m hoping that one day this week if we have some nice weather, I will ride out along the Hiwassee and out to the Refuge area (if it is open?) and take the good camera and try to get some more photos.

One the way home we had another “bird-related” road obstacle.  Definitely one of the more unusual roadblocks we’ve encountered, even here in rural TN.  These two guys were quite, well, let’s just say not timid.  They came right up to us when we stopped for them, and when we got going, they seemed to want to run along with us for a few meters.  Oh brother.

It’s always interesting and amazing … the stuff we see while riding. 🙂

Mark and the turkey roadblock 😉

independence day – riverwalk ride

RIding the glass bridge from Hunter Museum of Art; Chattanooga Riverwalk

Crossing on the glass bridge from the Hunter Museum of Art; Chattanooga Riverwalk

Summer is here, the Tour de France has officially started, and yesterday was Independence Day.

After spending the earlier part of the day glued to the Tour on television, we had an early BBQ at home and then headed toward Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga, via the Riverwalk – by bike.

The Riverwalk Route (map) is a leisurely bike (& pedestrian) path ride, winding from the TVA dam, near Amnicola Highway, into downtown Chattanooga/Ross’s Landing.  It passes through several parks and picnic areas, the Amnicola wetlands/swamp (which despite the sound, is really lovely), and along the Tennessee River into downtown Chattanooga.  Most of the scenery is picturesque, with the exception of a couple of industrial areas you pass through near the downtown end of the trail.  Currently, I believe the contiguous path is about 8 miles in length – from TVA dam to downtown (16 mi. roundtrip for out-and-back).  It’s a great opportunity for family riding, being almost entirely flat, smooth, and mostly free from street crossings.

Upon reaching the Bluff View Art District, you will need to travel one small stretch of low-traffic street to get to the continuation of the path near the Hunter Museum of Art.  At the museum, you get to cross the slick little glass bridge (shown above); it offers a neat view of down below, as well as the Aquarium and the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge.

The guys, riding merry-go-round style in front of the Hunter Museum of Art.

The guys, riding merry-go-round style in front of the Hunter Museum of Art.

A quick cross over the Walnut Street Bridge and you are in Coolidge Park – home to the weekend downtown Marketplace as well as the venue for concerts and other gatherings.

I had the trusty Xtracycle to haul a blanket, our camp seats, a cooler, and the rest of the necessary odds & ends. We picked a shady spot to park ourselves, and enjoyed a couple of hours relaxing and people-watching.  Chattanooga Outdoors was supposed to be offering a Bike Valet Service for the July 4th gathering, but we must have missed it.

Coolidge Park and the Walnut Street Pedestrian/Bike Bridge

Coolidge Park and the Walnut Street Pedestrian/Bike Bridge

We hung out till near-dusk and decided to head back, skipping the fireworks, etc.  We’re a little unclear on the official Riverwalk policy, but I believe that sections of it are closed at sundown.  There are a couple of lockable metal gates along the path, and we didn’t want to take the chance of getting trapped-out of riding back.  I need to investigate this matter further, because we’ve often considered riding down for an evening Lookouts game, but are not sure we’d have access to the path to get us back.

We missed the Bike Valet - oh, well...

We missed the Bike Valet - oh, well...

It’s always encouraging to see the efforts being made by more and more cities to become more bike and pedestrian friendly.  I’m happy to say I think we should add Chattanooga to the list.  If you ever have a chance to use the Riverwalk to explore the city, or just to take a leisurely ride, you won’t be disappointed.

Kinda nice to add a new meaning to Independence Day – independence from the car!

today’s ride: home decorating & the bison range

 

Even though housing has collapsed...
Even though housing has collapsed…

I have ridden past the remains of this old house more times than I can count.  There is nothing left among the weeds and charred rubble except for this fireplace and chimney.  I’ve always wanted to prop my bike up on the mantle for a picture.  Today, I finally did.  

As a consequence of my silly ideas, I apparently ran over a thorn on the little walk up through the brush.  Ended up with a flat rear tire.  I’m so brilliant sometimes…

The Lone Fireplace sits at the corner of Bigsby Creek and Rabbit Valley Roads – two of the nicest cycling roads virtually out my back door. Bigsby Creek Road, especially, has some of the most lovely scenery I have come across anywhere – from winding roadside fences, to old barns, to Holstein pastures, to duck ponds, to the bison farm (SW corner of Bigsby Creek and White Oak Valley Roads).  It’s not to difficult for me to fool myself into feeling like I’m riding in Vermont sometimes…

The route is fairly short and easy.  It’s kind of a “bread-and-butter” ride for us.  It’s short enough (and low-traffic enough) that we can go out for a quick evening spin after dinner.  And it’s enough of a distance to feel like we’ve actually gone for a ride.  It’s relatively flat to rolling, with some nice scenery, smooth pavement, and very little car traffic.  There’s a charming small country Baptist church at the corner of White Oak Valley and Rollins Ridge Roads – their front steps make a nice little stopping point if you need a quick break.  

An alternate shorter variation is to cut across Old Freewill Road (between White Oak and Rabbit Valley Roads).  There’s a nice little hill to climb in the middle of this shortcut, but also some lovely farm scenery.

No more traipsing through brush for me – maybe I’ll just have to put the Xtracycle on our own mantle?! 

The Route:

 

 

The Bison Loop ~ 19+ scenic rural miles
The Bison Loop ~ 19+ scenic rural miles

 

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

today’s ride: river crossing

crossing the Hiwassee River (Bradley County to Meigs County)

crossing the Hiwassee River (Bradley County to Meigs County)

Exquisite day to ride … sunny, not too hot, little wind, no traffic.  Just doesn’t get any better. 🙂

I’ve done portions of this ride as an out-and-back, but decided to find a way to make it into a loop.  Map My Ride proved to be a very useful tool.  There are limited road crossings over both the river and dealing with the interstate (I-75), but managed to plot a wonderful, low-traffic and picturesque loop.  It touches three counties – starting with Bradley (home), Meigs, and finally McMinn and back into Bradley.  A few hills to make things interesting, but nothing epic.  Otherwise you’ll get lovely gently rolling and smoothly paved rural roads, with a few scenic water crossings.

great pavement, gorgeous scenery (Lower River Road, Bradley Co.)

great pavement, gorgeous scenery (Lower River Road, Bradley Co.)

Two interesting country stores along the way – throw-backs to the rural grocery & bait shop days.  The few miles by main road (Hwy 58, Co. Rte. 163 into Calhoun) all have ample, clean and very bikeable wide shoulders.  Literally an entire lane-width of debris-free pavement to keep out of the way of vehicles.

A great distance for a lovely spring or autumn day.  Just doesn’t get much better…

Here’s the link to the mapped route :

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Picture 3

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