Favorite places to ride

Recently I was asked to contribute two articles for a new magazine debuting later this month. The topic of the second article is Places To Ride In Dunnavant Valley. This got me thinking about some of my all-time favorite places that I have ridden. Below are a few places that come to mind.

Local spots:
Oak Mountain State Park. This place has such a great selection of trails that is has been named an IMBA Epic trail system. Full of most everything I could want.
Highways 41, 43, 11, and 25 in Shelby County. Some great road riding just outside of my door. Good for loops or out-and-backs, and can be combined with other roads for added distance. I never get tired of the 41/43/25/41 loop of 30 miles.
Jewish Community Center. When I lived downtown I would frequently ride from my house to the upper trailhead at Altamont High School. The trail loop is only around five miles but offers great climbing and descending. I prefer to do one lap clockwise and follow it with one lap counterclockwise.
EBSCO property. I am one of only a few riders with a permit for access to this vast property, and never run into any other riders while up there. It contains dozens of miles of jeep roads and is perfect for training or even just the occasional exploring. When doing a long training ride on my mountain bike, I often take one of the jeep roads all the way to the top of Hwy 25 and then drop down to Hwy 43. After a few miles of pavement I then link up with other jeep roads that take me back up and over the mountain. And the best thing about these trails is that it begins just a half mile from my house.

Regional:
Race course at Big Frog 65. This has become my favorite mountain bike race. Lots of fun trails and relentless gravel climbs beginning at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.
Raccoon Mountain. Fun trail loop with occasional views of downtown Chattanooga. Great for singlespeeding.
Swayback Bridge Trail. Near Wetumpka, this is another great trail system for singlespeeding. When I traveled to Montgomery occasionally for one of my projects I was able to take my bike on a few trips so that I could hit the trails on my return.

National:
Santos trails. Near Ocala FL, these trails originated from old clay pit property. I discovered the trails while home during college breaks, and they continue to grow. It’s been around 8 years since I last rode there, which is way too long.
Leadville CO. Got to race there in 2011 and it was absolutely amazing. The climbing was brutal, which I loved. The scenery was unbelievable. And the race atmosphere was remarkable. I likely would feel the same about many other trails in Colorado.
Lake Tahoe. While on vacation there one summer, most of my family rented bikes and rode from town to town along the water (north shore) one day. While the actual ride was not what I had in mind (I was on a cheap rental hybrid and was going at a pace that our slowest family member could handle), the views over the lake were incredible. I would love to go back one day and do the entire lake loop on my road bike.
Leesburg FL. My hometown for the first 18 years of my life. Where I first learned to ride on a cheap banana seat bike. I brought my road bike home a few years ago and got to see the town in a new perspective. Details I never noticed before were suddenly apparent. The highlight was probably riding in Sunnyside with Lake Harris in view.

Bucket List:
Swiss Alps. Leslie and I traveled to France and Switzerland a number of years back, and the highlight of our trip was our time in Geneva.  We managed to venture up into the mountains for a day trip and the scenery was unbelievable.  I was instantly jealous of all of the bikers we saw taking their bikes up the various ski gondolas for some summertime trail sessions.
Italian Dolomites. Based off nothing more than photos I’ve seen, I’d really like to make it to the Dolomites for both road riding and trail riding.
Scottish Highlands. Something about the greenery, fog, hills, and nearby coastal areas make we want to throw on a waterproof jacket and hit the trails for some long endurance rides.
Haleakala National Park in Hawaii. A 36-mile road descent from the top of a volcano in Maui, dropping more than 9700 feet.  Spend the morning making the monster climb, eat a quick bite at the top, and then hold on for dear life for the next hour.

 

 

top of Hwy 25 in Shelby County

top of Hwy 25 in Shelby County

Old Hwy 280 along the Narrows creek

Old Hwy 280 along the Narrows creek

one of many amazing views in Leadville, CO

one of many amazing views in Leadville, CO

great Leadville view

great Leadville view

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