Posts tagged ‘Chattanooga’
trails and TNT
It’s been a while since we’ve done much mountain biking, but today we decided it was a good day for a change of pace from the road. We dusted off the knobby-tired bikes and headed down to the Enterprise South Nature Park in Chattanooga to explore some of the mountain bike trails.
But first, a little history…
In the early 1940’s the Army Corps of Engineers built the original facilities for the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant. The plant was originally built to support World War II military efforts, and operated as a TNT manufacturing facility through 1977 – producing up to 30 million pounds of TNT per month during peak production years in the 1960’s.
Within the past decade, the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County turned the site into a combination of industrial property and the 2800-acre Enterprise South Nature Park, which opened to the public in 2010. The Park is adjacent to the recently opened state-of-the-art Volkswagon manufacturing facility. Along with bringing several thousand jobs to the area, the VW plant has achieved the world’s first LEED-Platinum green building certification for an automotive plant, making them a great environmentally responsible partner for the public access parklands.
Within the 2800-acre Nature Park is an extensive multi-use trail system – from pedestrian hiking paths, to both paved bike routes and single-track mountain biking trails – in a wide range of difficulty levels. There are also plans to include equestrian trails into the mix.
One of the more fascinating things to see as you ride the trails are the collection of abandoned munitions “bunkers”, big caverns with concrete walls with huge steel doors, many of them built into hillsides. I think there are close to 100 of them, some locked and sealed, but we came across at least one that was open. A little creepy, in an interesting way. Mark’s theory is that most of the trail system evolved from the bunker access roads and pathways. Definitely possible.
We rode two of the intermediate/advanced mountain biking loops – the TNT Trail and the Log-Rhythm Trail – and Mark had some fun playing on the bridge course. The trails are wonderfully maintained, and even “enhanced” in places. There are a couple of log and bridge courses, along with a number of fun (engineered) “whoop-y” sections of the hillside trail (I am sure that is a technical mountain biking term). Enough rocks and climbing to make you work, and some great descents. Yeah, fun. And a nice reminder that mountain biking uses a very different skill set of increased agility, weight-shift and balance than road biking. Actually, it often reminds me of skiing, especially through the tighter turns in the trees.
We are definitely going to do this again… And if you are in the area, it is definitely a place worth visiting – biking, hiking or however you choose to explore.
utilitaire 10 of 12: a-go-go
Riding across the Riverside Drive glass bridge in Chattanooga always gives me an imaginary sense of victory(?) over cars. I love standing on that bridge with my bike and looking down at the cars driving underneath; I am looming over them for a change (even it it’s only in my mind…).
Today’s destination was number 12 on the Utilitaire control card: to get my hair cut. My once-a-month-or-so trip to Chattanooga to visit my stylist, Chris, at Hair-A-Go-Go gives me a chance to ride into the city on the Riverwalk.
I will confess, I have to drive (shame on me!) to the northern terminus of the Riverwalk from home; but living about 40+ mi outisde of the city, an 80-mile round trip would be a big stretch for a reasonable commuter distance for me. Sorry. This way, anyway, I cut a little off of my driving distance, and get to ride the “scenic route” into downtown, and have some time to enjoy the destination. I think the approximate distance from the north end of the path to the Bluff View Art District downtown is about 8 miles one way, so the round trip makes for a relaxing and comfortable ride which I almost always make on Elisabetta.
Got my haircut, stopped into the downtown art supply store for a new pen, and then lingered around Coolidge Park for a little while enjoying the incredible sunshine and the balmy temperatures. I think we reached the mid-70’s. Lots and lots of people were out, walking, biking, sitting on benches on the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying picnics in the park.
Before heading back, I stopped to treat myself at Rembrand’s Coffee House in the Art District. I was in the mood for one of their blackberry Italian Cream Sodas … it was heavenly, especially on the warm day. I am not exactly sure what makes it “Italian” (because I don’t remember ever seeing anything like this in Italy), but it is basically blackberry syrup, soda water, and some cream – yes, real cream – over ice. Not something to indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasional treat, I shall have no guilt over it(!).
My hair is back to it’s short and trimmed state, my journal enjoyed the sun and the park (if not my attempts with the new pen), and I am still imagining the sweetness of blackberries and cream. A few scenes from the day … and a big thank you to the very kind new friends who have visited these pages from today’s Freshly Pressed; it was an unexpected surprise, and I am quite bowled over by the kind words and responses. Many thanks.
playing with new pens
Chattanooga has a thriving hipster population … Riverwalk
Scenic City bridges … Coolidge Park
Yesterday, while pedaling around Chattanooga for the afternoon, we came across a fascinating live gallery of artbikes gathered near the Chattanooga Aquarium. All of the bikes are student creations, sponsored by a local non-profit, Art120.
Art120: Benefitting art, education, and the community
Art 120 is a 501(c)3 organization created to provide funding for arts education, an
annual free arts event for the public known as an art car parade, and opportunities to connect the public to artists and art within about a 120 minute commute of
Chattanooga. Art 120 supports artists, arts related nonprofits, and their communities
by providing opportunities designed to foster a better understanding of visual art
by the public.
What was most inspiring for me was getting to talk to one of the young artists, Jack – creator of his wonderful bike-flight of fancy he calls “Jack Slays the Dragon” (I hope I got the title right, Jack?). Jack designed and constructed this great piece of moving artwork by himself (although he said he did have some help with the welding); he conceived the design, shaped the metal framework, and attached the wire/shredded plastic covering. And best of all … he looks awesome while riding it! Who wouldn’t want to ride a dragon?! (Video of several of the artbikes, including Jack on his dragon, being ridden through Coolidge Park, here.)
While Jack’s Dragon was really my favorite, there were a couple of other spectacular creations including the Swing-By-Bike, and the Bedframe Rat Rod (a nifty tandem built around an old bedframe).
I ❤ bikes, of course … but I also love the creativity that they can inspire. I love to see people celebrating the art of the bicycle, and the limitless imagination of young minds. Applause to Jack and the folks at Art120.
bicycles and fireworks
Best way ever to celebrate Independence Day … family, friends, and Xtracycles packed for a picnic, concert and fireworks along the river. 😀
Happy July fourth!
#330daysofbiking & back on home turf
Finally … nothing Italian. 😉
#330daysofbiking has continued – missing the gelato stops and getting lost within small villages, but with beautiful Tennessee autumn weather, cooler temperatures, boys home for Fall Break(s), cruising the Riverwalk in Chattanooga, and on the road with the “fast” boys. Riding for fun, and riding to get the job done (errands, groceries, library, bike shop).
And some important news from coming via our friend Jeff … If you live and ride in TN, or plan to visit and ride, please take a moment to participate in a quick 9-question survey from the folks at TDOT on the state’s bicycle and pedestrian program. TDOT wants to hear from you! (And by October 30th please … my apologies for getting this posted so late.)
Although a couple of days were lost in transit (Italy), #330daysofbiking count is still on target. As of today, have ridden 189 of the past 208 days,with 159 days remaining. And so it goes.
(Coming soon … tales of a new city bike, “Elisabetta”. 🙂 Photos and details to come; stay tuned.)
#330daysofbiking Days 101 & 102: 1879 – nothing happened
It has been a rather crazy couple of days — at least more eventful than 1879, in any case.
I know this is a biking blog, and I really do try to keep these posts about biking stuff … so forgive me if I lose the thread a bit with this one. There are bikes involved, I promise, but this is going to end up being a picture story. Bike stuff and non-bike stuff, I will forewarn you. (Hey – I am not making anyone read this, so I don’t want to hear any complaining… 😉 ).
Day 101 – Began the day with some bike commuting; a swim, some errands, and a stop at the bookstore for a new NYT crossword book (my brain needs more exercise than my arms and legs, trust me) and a glass of pomegranate green tea. Ahhh…
In the evening, we headed to Chattanooga ….
… because the boys’ band, The Night Shines, was playing at the Mosaic. Best show ever for them 🙂
The Mosaic was a pretty cool place – music, original art, and … a bike.
Day 102. Headed to nearby Dayton, TN, home of one of the most infamous publicity stunts/evolution-creation circuses of the 20th century – the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. (I write this, hanging my head in, well … embarrassment). Also the site of the above sidewalk timeline (lol), evidence that plenty of goofy stuff apparently has happened – and not happened – in Dayton.
Each year on the anniversary of the trial, Bryan College and people of Dayton put on a big re-enactment of the whole show-down – which just happened to be taking place this weekend. Gah! Our only reason for going to Dayton today was for a stop at their local music shop – Grant was looking to buy a new bass guitar, and had found one here. The music store sits directly across the street from the courthouse where the whole Monkey Trial anniversary party was happening. It was, er, … interesting.
Grant got his guitar and we headed back home – The Band had another show tonight in Cleveland, and Mark and I were heading over to one of the local vineyards for some blueberry gathering. It’s been a bumper crop this year; I’ve never seen the bushes so full. We picked about 13 pounds of delicious berries; just perfect for my favorite No-Bake Blueberry Pie (archives).
Came home (again), tired, but Mark and I decided to head out on the bikes for a dinner date … pizza and salad at our favorite little local spot. Nice way to end the day, riding home just as darkness settled – lights and plenty of Blinkies.
(For now, anyway… 😉 )
#330daysofbiking Days 88 & 89: independence day cycling
Happy Independence Day :D. (You knew there would be a lot of photos for this one, didn’t you…?)
On Saturday (Day 88), we decided to head into Chattanooga for the big bash in Coolidge park. Packed picnic paraphernalia up in the Xtracycles, and Mason and I rode the Riverwalk into downtown. A couple of the boys had gone into the city earlier in the day, and Ross was going to be coming from work later in the afternoon with Mark, so it ended up being just Mason and I doing the riding. And hauling all of the “stuff”. 😉 We had a great ride along the river, amazingly uncrowded for a Saturday.
We all met up at Coolidge Park for a great picnic, concert and fireworks. Our friend Sarah was playing with the Chattanooga Symphony in the park, which was a real treat for us, and her husband Jeff came over and joined us on the lawn while she was playing. Good times, good food and conversation, plenty of silliness … and just great to be all together on a wonderful summer evening in the park.
Day 89: Sunday was a relaxing day at home. A little swimming, a little biking, dinner out with boys and girlfriends, fireworks all over the nearby farms and neighborhoods (yes, it’s legal in TN). Mark and I had a nice ride together in the early evening, passing church picnics and people having BBQ’s. Came home to sit out on the back porch, watching fireworks, listening to music. The boys had a game of Koob going out on the lawn. Good times. 😀 Coolidge Park was a lot of fun, but today it was just nice to be away from the crowds, hanging out with the boys and friends. Perfect summer.
#330daysofbiking Days 75 & 76: water to water
Sometimes, my posting is like way I ride hills … lagging behind.
Yesterday I began the day with an early morning swim with Dillon. Came home to pick up the rest of the crew, and the boys and I headed to Chattanooga. Mason and the Governor’s School group were coming into the city on a trip to visit the UTC SimCenter (because that’s their idea of good times and excitement, lol) – and we decided to meet him for lunch and a quick visit. It was brief, but I think he was happy to see all of us … and likewise.
Enjoyed some good conversation about the Tour de Suisse, some geeky physics jokes (which were basically over my head), and a review of this years’ crop of Governor’s School kids – impressive as always. And when I mentioned to Mason that I missed riding with him, he responded in his typical manner, “Yeah, I miss riding with someone who’s a lot slower than me …” I, of course, hit him for that one.
Came home and got out for a ride … into town for a haircut. That was the extent of it. 😛 No camera, no pictures; just taking care of business. By bike.
Today it rained for a while, but fortunately the weather cooled off a bit. When it started to clear in late afternoon, Mark and I decided to head to the river for a paddle. I wanted to ride, so Mark hauled the boats and let me go by bicycle.
Spent a couple hours out on the water, exploring a few new stretches of shoreline. Rumbles of thunder in the distance, but beautiful skies and very comfortable temperatures. Fish were jumping everywhere, herons overhead. Spotted a beautiful Kingfisher, but couldn’t catch him by camera. Paddled back to the landing in the golden twilight. Rode home as the sky was turning pink. Perfect.
no impact experiment – day 1: consumption
A while back, I read about Colin Beavan’s No Impact Project – and the truncated version of his experiment, designed for the masses, called the No Impact Experiment. I decided to sign up and try it for a week. Yesterday was Day 1.
The idea behind the Experiment is to examine and evaluate different aspects of our daily habits, and find ways to change our behavior and habits to make less impact on the environment and live a “fuller and happier” life in the process. Sounded very interesting and worth trying, so I read the official “participation guide” and signed up. Biggest obstacle – at least from my perspective – is the fact that Kids are in the middle of Fall Break, Mason and Ross home for a few days from college, and the gamut of other things we had scheduled to do during these few days, and the Experiment was not on others’ lists. Ah well, I am trying to make the best of what I can do, as well as I can.
Day 1 (Sunday) was an examination of consumption and our personal shopping/consumption habits. Step one, make a list of all the stuff I “need” to buy this week, and delete the items I can live without for the week. For the rest of the items, figure out a way to possibly borrow, make or purchase them second-hand. We were also instructed to use a re-usable bag to collect all of the trash, recyclables, and food waste we generated. I kind of failed with that last part…
Here is the list of things I would be contemplating buying this week:
- Watercolor block – decided I can do without for now.
- Boots – decided I can definitely do without; simply a desire, not a “need”.
- Electric bicycle conversion kit – long story behind this, but contemplating a retrofit of my mtn. bike for occasional use (when I am totally wimped, tired, and just don’t have it in me to pedal over the big hill)- considering possibility sending car off with one of the college Kids. Not going to make the purchase, for now.
- Food – the one thing I can’t take off the list.
How did it make me feel not to purchase anything? Well, I’m not a big shopper to begin with, so it doesn’t really bother me – at least for the short-term. I find that I tend to get something in my mind that I want to purchase – the camera, a book, some yarn, some bike accessory – and don’t typically “impulse” buy these kind of things. The boots (although officially one of SimpleShoes’s “green” styles) were an impulse consideration, and it was not a problem to nix the idea.
Did I really do a good job following the experiment to the letter yesterday? No. I didn’t collect my trash. We also took a ride into Chattanooga and spent part of the afternoon cycling on the Riverwalk and in the city. I got some coffee in a disposable cup. We all went out for dinner – by car. Could I have been more conscientious? Yes, definitely … but just trying to balance the wishes of the family with my own state of experimentation.
Did evaluating my consumption have an impact? Yes, I think so. Had I not decided to participate in the Experiment, I probably would have bought the watercolor block, and possibly the boots, without much thought. I do think it’s important to evaluate our purchases – do I really “need” this? I like the idea of making a list of proposed items I intend to purchase – that constraint alone could be very effective, and an excellent evaluation tool. I also think I need to re-evaluate my aversion to shopping at resale shops, thrift stores, etc. It’s one of those personal things I’ve just never been crazy about, but I know it could be worthwhile to try.
independence day – riverwalk ride
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.
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.
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.
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!