Posts tagged ‘Chattanooga’
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.
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.
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.)
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 ….
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… 😉 )
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.