Archive for March, 2012

nothing like a tuesday afternoon ride…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

After getting through with a meeting in Cullman shortly after lunch time on March 6th, I had my bike on the roof rack and was able to bypass my office and head straight to Oak Mtn State Park for a nice little ride in spring-like weather.  Brian was planning on going later in the afternoon, but I knew if I went to my office I would get sucked in until 5pm.

I decided to do a modified loop, riding clockwise starting at the canoe marina.  My ride went, more or less, through Seven Bridges, Group Camp Road, Flow Trail (Lightning), Garrett’s Gulch, Chimney, Dog Cat Snake, Red Road Climb, BUMP connector, Jekyll & Hyde, Mr. Toad’s, Rattlesnake Ridge, and the Lake Trail.  All told I logged around 21 miles.  Not bad for a Tuesday ride, considering I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been on my mountain bike in 2012.

This was my first ride down Lightning….been avoiding it somewhat because of all of the danger warnings posted by some of the BUMP forum users, and also simply because my only other chance to ride it I was in a hurry and didn’t have much time.  I’ve got to say, this is not nearly as dangerous as I was expecting.  In fact, it was just plain fun.  Granted, I was laying on my brakes quite a lot, and doing my best not to get much air on the jumps.  Had I wanted to, I can see how I could have easily gotten way out of control and put myself in some tricky situations.  But to me, the top part of Jekyll & Hyde is more dangerous due to the technical nature of the rocky terrain.  Lightning was just really fast….pretty much no rocks to speak of.  This trail just begs to be ridden with a bike having 4″ of front and rear suspension….I imagine a 650B wheel size would also really rock this trail.  I look forward to my next chance to ride it, even if it is on my 29er hardtail with the seatpost extended way up…..no need for a full suspension bike with a dropper seatpost for me.

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Raccoon Mountain review

Posted in ride reports with tags , on March 9, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I was really lucky recently (March 1st) to have been able to take my bike along with me on a business trip to Knoxville….you know, “just in case” I happened to want to ride.  On the return leg to Birmingham (following an overnight stay) I was able to get up early and head to Raccoon Mountain near downtown Chattanooga.  After hearing about this trail system for several years now, I was excited to try it out.

I still needed to get back to the office in Birmingham by 2pm that day, so my time on the bike was going to be limited to just over an hour.  I also managed to somehow snap off my rear tire’s valve stem core while pumping up my tires, which left me with a slow leak and no way to add any air.  So, all told I probably only rode around 10 total miles.  Since it was an out-and-back trip for me, this means I only saw around 5 miles of the trail system.

But, what I saw has got me hankering to get back up there ASAP.

The Raccoon Mountain Trail System essentially circles the Raccoon Mountain Reservoir, which itself sits high up on one of the mountain ridges near downtown.  I parked at the East Overlook, which came at the recommendation of a local bike shop employee when I pulled in to ask for directions.  There are some great views of downtown Chattanooga and the river from the East Overlook, which you will see in the photos below.

Hitting the trail, I started going counter-clockwise on some really nice smooth singletrack.  Though there was some climbing, it was still very fast.  Due to the tight twists, I often found myself having to dial back the speed to maintain control over the loose leaves on the trail.  After passing a clearing for some power lines, I worked my way through a miniature boulder garden in the woods.  Unlike the boulders at Oak Mtn, these were smooth and rounded, which made them very easy (and mildly fun) to ride up and over.  Some of the boulders approached car size.  Then it was more killer singletrack that somehow lead me right back to the East Overlook.  I had not intended to loop back around, but being unfamiliar with the trail system it somehow just happened.

This time I went clockwise from the East Overlook trailhead, which began once again on some very nice fast singletrack.  But for the next few miles I would experience all sorts of trail conditions ranging from rock gardens, to fast swoopy hills (think Jekyll at Oak Mtn), flat sandy stretches, and of course tight, twisty, and fast singletrack.  This was some good riding for sure.

After reluctantly forcing myself to turn around, I called it a day.  This place just begs to be visited again when I have more time to spend riding.  And due to the great network of trails, it would be an ideal spot for the boys from 41 Flyers Racing to spend a Saturday road trip…..basically just ride for hours without getting bored.  In speaking to some other folks who have ridden Raccoon Mountain, I supposedly did not even get to the best parts of the trail system.  I’ll be back for sure.