Archive for double oak way

pics from morning ride

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , on May 8, 2015 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I might drop a few pics in here from this morning’s ride.  At least a couple mornings per week I get out early (anywhere between 5am to 5:30am) to get in some ride time before work….even if just 45 minutes to an hour it at least gets my day started on a positive note.  This morning’s ride consisted of some hill repeats on Double Oak Way, followed by a ride up to the cliffs and then along the ridgeline of Double Oak Mountain.

These pics are a big part of why I love living where I do so much.  From my front door in Mt Laurel I have access to some of the best road riding around, along with dozens of miles of trail/dirt riding within a mile from my house.  Double Oak Way is a steep Cat 4 climb that usually gets our day started (not just me, but Brian P and Scott L).  I can string together a nice road century or a 3-hour trail ride without ever getting in a car.








ride reports – January 4th and January 12th

Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Been pretty quiet on this blog since I crashed and injured my shoulder and elbow in November, so here goes a quick rundown of two recent rides.

On January 4th I had planned to get up in the early morning and ride in what I would call very cold weather (30s), but the sleepy monster took control and I decided to sleep in.  However, I was able to duck out later in the day for a quick spin on the mountain bike.  I did one of my usual Ebsco routes, where I head up Double Oak Way to enter the Ebsco property and then head to the northeast towards the power line crossings.

I had passed some hunters on the way up there talking on the side of the road, so I knew I had to be careful to not get shot by accident.  After hitting the ridge split and taking a right, I only rode for a short distance before turning around….basically I know where the deer stands are and don’t need to get too close.  After turning around I encountered one of the hunters, who was on his way out to a stand.  Unlike other such encounters I’ve had up there, this one was very friendly.  He pretty much just wanted to make sure I knew to be safe and to keep an eye out for anyone else up there.  Nevertheless, it was still somewhat cold and I was ready to head for home anyway.

Strava ride data can be found here.  Basically just 11 miles with 1200 feet of climbing.  And some of the slowest segment times I have had in two years…..the layoff due to injuries, coupled with the holidays, just really has taken my fitness down a few notches.

brisk day

brisk day

typical trails

typical trails – this one is a steep muddy climb on the bob hood branch trail

more trail

more trail

still some ice on the trail

still some ice on the trail

gate to top of double oak way - luckily i hold a permit

gate to top of double oak way – luckily i hold a permit

getting ready to turn back into mt laurel

getting ready to turn back into mt laurel

yep.  too cold for me.

yep. too cold for me.


The following weekend I was able to force myself out for another ride.  My original plan had been to ride on Saturday, but I opted to ride around the neighborhood with the kids instead.  So, with absolutely beautiful weather on Sunday, I decided to……sit on the couch.  For too long.  I had to really force myself to not be so tired (late night at a wedding reception) and get out and do something.  I had sent separate text messages to Brian, Kyle, Travis, Chad, and David to see if anyone wanted to join me….hoping some company would get me motivated.  After reluctantly getting up and putting on my tight-fitting bib and jersey kit, and noticing that I was now 5-1/2 months pregnant, I realized I made the right decision by opting for exercise in lieu of the couch.

Once again I found myself on familiar territory up on the Ebsco property.  This time I climbed all the way to the radio tower, then took a trail back to the main Bob Hood Branch trail.  Instead of going to the right at the ridge split like I had done the previous weekend, I went left.  But, I only went as far as it took to crest the steep hill (probably need to make it a strava segment) and then turned around.  My goal was to get in around 20 miles today, but not all of it on Ebsco’s trails.

Once turned around and taking a photo break on a section of gravel trail, I noticed someone on the pavement up ahead around 1/4 of a mile.  Then another biker quickly followed.  Figuring it was someone I knew, I hopped back on my bike and booked it to the end of the trail and onto the pavement.  By the time I reached the pavement, they were already well on their way up the second leg of the Double Oak rollercoaster.  Somehow I managed to just about catch up to them by the top of the climb and gave a little “hoot hoot” holler to let them know I was on my way up.  Once at the top I discovered I didn’t know these two folks, but they were a really nice father and son who had ridden their road bikes from Vestavia Hills specifically to take on the Double Oak Way climbs.

I let them go ahead while I chugged some water and then followed them back out towards Hwy 41, eventally catching back up to them at the gate.  After trailing them tightly along Hwy 41 for a few miles, they finally proved too fast for me with my mountain bike and off they went on their long way home.

I continued on past Shoal Creek and into Stonegate Farms, where my plan was to ride some singletrack that I had seen during road rides at the very last cul-de-sac (roughly 3 miles into the neighborhood).  However, once I reached the trail I found out that it has since been closed off with chain link fencing.  I might have hopped the fence or found a way around, but some of the residents were talking in the street just a short distance away keeping an eye on me as I rode towards the trail.  So, with no trail time at Stonegate Farms I simply turned around and rode the remaining +/- 6 miles home.  Strava data can be found here.  22 miles with 1800 feet of climbing.


sun was already drawing low in the sky by the time i hit the top of the ridge


looking through the trees towards village and highland lakes (houses in front) and greystone (along the ridge)

radio tower at top of double oak way

radio tower at top of double oak way

typical trail - in this case leading from radio tower to bob hood branch trail

typical trail – in this case leading from radio tower to bob hood branch trail

leads back up to radio tower

leads back up to radio tower

leads down to gate #5 on hwy 43

leads down to gate #5 on hwy 43

recent evidence of horses on the trail

recent evidence of horses on the trail

after losing contact with the two road bikers

after losing contact with the two road bikers

full moon peeking out in the late afternoon above stonegate farms

full moon peeking out in the late afternoon above stonegate farms

stonegate farms

stonegate farms

home in time to ride with lissy

home in time to ride with lissy

ride report – 11.03.2013 — EBSCO property

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

After a couple of early morning pavement/gravel/dirt rides to dial in the geometry on my new Stumpjumper, along with a counter-clockwise ride of the old loop at Oak Mtn State Park, I had a couple hours to spend on Sunday afternoon getting to properly test out my new bike on the hills above Mt Laurel.

After leaving my house, it was down Hwy 41 to the steep uphill road of Double Oak Way….i.e. my usual way of getting to the top of the mountain when I don’t want to deal with the hike-a-bike from the lake at Mt Laurel.  After cresting the hill on Double Oak Way where it takes a 90-degree turn to the left and becomes fairly flat, I continued on for a short distance to simply keep warming up.  Then I opted to hop on the singletrack that is alongside the paved road (the trail was put in by motobikers), but that was very quickly short lived since my drivetrain immediately got clogged up with fallen leaves and a small twig.

Back on the pavement, I headed southwest on Double Oak Way (towards the way I came) and then continued straight onto the jeep road after Double Oak Way turned hard right to go downhill to Hwy 41.  It had been a few years since I took this road all the way down to Hwy 43, so my plan was to stay on it until Hwy 43 and then turn around for a good uphill.  With all of the recent leaf-shedding by all of the hardwoods, the leaves really made things slippery going downhill and I almost lost control on more than one occasion.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t too muddy and generally was a fun ride down.

Hitting Hwy 43 (which is at EBSCO gate #1), I rode northeast on the pavement until reaching EBSCO gate #2 on the opposite side of 43.  Having explored back here a few times on my mountain bike in the past, I knew it has miles upon miles of jeep road options to ride on.  I opted to simply head uphill for a bit and then backtrack until reaching Hwy 43 again, albeit about a half mile to the northeast (at gate #3).  Then it was back on some pavement until I got back to gate #1.

Once at gate #1, my plan was to simply go back the way I came, which would have been a decent climb of around 1.5 miles and over 600 feet of elevation change (topo change, not cumulative gain).  I got to a fork in the road and inadvertently took a right when I should have stayed left.  So, I instead ended up with a climb of around 3 miles and close to 800 feet of elevation change.  Plus, I had absolutely no clue where I was.  For quite a while I actually thought I was much further to the southwest because I had skipped another right turn and stayed left, not recalling staying right at the very first turn.  When it eventually dumped me out at the bottom of the Double Oak Rollercoaster I was very surprised.

At that point, I had only ridden a little over 10 miles and wanted to put in some more time on my bike while I had the rare window of opportunity without other obligations standing in the way.  So, I once again headed back to the southwest on Double Oak Way, and once again stayed straight onto the dirt once the pavement turned downhill towards Hwy 41.  But instead of continuing all the way to Hwy 43 again, I took the jeep road spur that leads to Forest Parks.  [One of the great things about this dirt road system is that you can access Forest Parks/280, Jones Valley Urban Farm/41, Hwy 43, and even Hwy 25].  This fun section of fire road eventually ended at the top soccer field at the Forest Parks soccer complex.  [Another side note, Forest Parks has a fun, albeit fairly short, trail that I have taken a few times on my way through there….not this time though].  Next I would simply cut through the neighborhood to pick up Hwy 280 at Essex Road.

Hwy 280 was unusually busy for a Sunday afternoon, so I road on the narrow sliver of gravel on the shoulder until I reached Soccer Blast.  Once at Soccer Blast, I hopped on the Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail.  This trail is great for trail running, and so-so for trail riding.  Most of it is actually very fun to ride, but a few portions near the middle are permeated with rock gardens that require you to dismount a few times (at least this time of year with the slippery leaf cover).  It was at one such rock garden that I came upon a group of hikers and one of them had twisted her ankle pretty badly.  The trail was very narrow and it was going to be slow going getting around their group, so I ended up just chilling by the creek for five minutes or so to give them some time to get out in front of me.  I eventually caught them again, but by that time I was almost to the trailhead parking lot and could ride around their group.  By the time I reached the trailhead my phone was buzzing with a text message asking when I would be home (my wife had plans with some friends) so I made a beeline along Hwy 41 back to the hood.

Final ride stats were around 20 miles with 2500 feet of climbing.  Strava link can be found here.  Random photos below.


on Double Oak Way


trail next to Double Oak Way


fire roads on opposite side of Hwy 43


fire roads on opposite side of Hwy 43


EBSCO gate #2


EBSCO gate #1 – heads uphill to Double Oak Way


very steep section of doubletrack


at top of Double Oak Rollercoaster – looking towards descent to bottom


Forest Parks soccer field complex


Forest Parks soccer field complex


creek along Dunnvant Valley Greenway Trail


Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail


Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail

ride report for October 5th

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , on October 10, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

“Can you ride in the a.m.?”.

That was the text I received last Friday night from Brian.  I was going to the Auburn game the next day, but because it was a night game I was able to make an early morning mountain bike ride happen with little trouble.  I hadn’t ridden the Great White Hope in probably 6 or 7 weeks, so it felt good to be able to hop back on for some EBSCO property romping.

We started out heading up the Cat 4 paved climb of Double Oak Way, and continued along the ridge until we hit the first stretch of gravel to the left, just below the radio tower climb.  Our only real decision this morning would be which route to take.  We could 1) go to the northwest ridgeline towards Hwy 25; 2) take the southeast ridgeline to the powerline crossing then turn around; or 3) go straight down to Hwy 43 and do some exploring on the trails on the other side of 43.  We were in the mood to mix up some trail time with pavement time, so we opted for #1.

As mentioned in a previous post, EBSCO has been spreading some fresh dirt on the trails, making them a lot smoother than they have been the past few years.  We enjoyed a killer ride all the way to the first powerline crossing, where we took a quick break.  The only thing holding us back so far was the abundant quantity of large spiders and spider webs stretched across the trail at 7am.

After motoring through the trail until it ends near Hwy 25, we hopped on pavement and made the short climb to the Hwy 25 crest.  Then, it was a good fast descent down the mountain.  I didn’t quite hit the speeds I was expecting, and certainly didn’t have my fastest Strava descent, but it was a fun one.

Starting at the base of Hwy 25 we officially were roadies for the next few miles as we plugged away onto Hwy 41 towards Mt Laurel.  Brian mentioned he had never been back around Wehapa Lake and Smyer Lake, so we first tried to access Wehapa.  Unfortunately the gate was closed too tight to squeeze through, and with a house right next to the gate we didn’t want to be seen hopping over.  So, we instead got back on 41 and headed towards Smyer, where from previous riding trips I knew we could access.

Smyer Lake is a beautiful, heavily-wooded gated neighborhood with a hodge podge of rustic cabins to nicely-appointed lake McMansions.  The main road is an out-and-back, rather than a loop around the lake.  No big deal though as we had time to kill and were enjoying the ride.  After hitting the end of the road, we simply turned around and headed for home.

We covered around 25 miles and close to 2000 feet of climbing, so the mileage was good but the climbing lagged a bit behind a good training day.  No wonder I felt so fresh when done.  Thanks to BP for a great Saturday ride.


Brian picking spiders off.

Brian picking spiders off.





at a power line crossing

at a power line crossing

first of several power line crossings

first of several power line crossings

large spider near trail - lots of these today

large spider near trail – lots of these today

smyer lake

smyer lake

at smyer lake

at smyer lake

at smyer lake

at smyer lake

September 29th ride report

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , on September 30, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

As soon as the BBC Century was over, I put the knobbies back on my cyclocross bike and have been having a ton of fun on some shorter all-conditions rides.  I typically ride 2 to 3 mornings per week before work, usually around 12 to 15 miles each ride….basically heading out at 6am while it is still dark and doing some laps around my neighborhood and the adjacent neighborhoods (Village at Highland Lakes and Belvedere) until the sun is up enough for me to safely get to Greystone Farms and/or Stonegate Farms.  Both Greystone Farms and Stonegate farms offer some trail riding opportunities to mix in with the pavement.

Needing some more trail riding time on the CX bike, I set out Sunday for a short ride on top of Double Oak Mountain on the EBSCO property.  This ride always begins with the Cat 4 ascent of Double Oak Way, which can be turned into a Cat 3 if taken all the way to the radio tower on top of the mountain.  I knew my Strava time was not going to be a PR, so I turned off of Double Oak Way before the radio tower, electing instead to get on trail a little sooner.  The first section of trail is made up of some loose, large gravel.  Not the buttery smooth dime-sized gravel or crushed limestone that can be found on most roads, but rather quarter-sized (and bigger) chunks of rock that just really suck to ride on.  It’s not much fun on my 29er mountain bike with 2.2″ tires, and certainly not great on a CX bike with 700×33 thin knobbies.  But luckily it only lasts for a half-mile or so before smoothing out.

Once past the gravel, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that EBSCO has had a crew up there spreading new dirt and leveling out the old dirt on the two doubletrack trails that lead to the power line crossings.  This provided almost perfect terrain for a CX bike to easily climb and descend along the ridgeline.  Actually, a good rain a day or so earlier would have been even better since it might have hardened up the sand, but still it was rather nice.  While not being able to hit the corners as fast as I would on my 29er, it was still a blast to ride up there on something other than a mountain bike.

Hitting the power line crossing on the southern ridge, my plan was to backtrack to where the ridgeline split at the end of the first section of gravel trail, and then take the split to the northern ridge power line crossing.  However, once there I started the long/steep initial climb only to find that the freshly-laid sand was just a little too loose and was causing me to spin out.  Rather than walk it up, I just turned around and started heading home.  In hindsight I probably should have walked through the sandy climb so that I could continue some good riding on the other side of the climb, but that would have also meant walking through the sandy sections on what would be a steep descent on the way back.

After turning around, I took a different trail up to the radio tower, blasted the rollercoaster Strava segment, and worked my way home via Double Oak Way and Hwy 41.  All in all not a long ride by any measure, but a good one.  Strava link can be found here.










Sunday afternoon ride on the Great White Hope

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2013 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

Now that I have my Stumpjumper HT 29er built back up after repainting it, I’ve been able to log in a couple of quick 1-hour training rides to get the components adjusted where I like them.  On Sunday morning I ducked out (unfortunately skipping church, which makes me feel a little guilty) and went on a decent little ride on the ridge above Mt Laurel.  I knew that Sunday afternoon promised plenty of rain, so if I was going to do anything it had to be in the morning.

I set out around 9:30 in what was somewhat cool temperatures.  Luckily my arm warmers kept me mildly warm on the short jaunt along Hwy 41, and then the Cat 3 climb up Double Oak Way definitely warmed me up.

My route took me to the first crest on Double Oak Way (the first rollercoaster hill before the cell tower), then down the long downhill towards Gate #1.  With my front end being so much lower than it was on the Bandersnatch, along with the rigid front fork, I had a moment where I almost ate it hard by putting too much weight forward on the screaming descent.  After that, I rode the brakes pretty good.  Plus it was still rather wet from the recent rains.

The small creek crossing that I normally pedal through was flowing hard, even creating some nice little bubbling whitewater just upstream.  It was at least high ankle deep at the shallowest parts, and probably 12 feet across.  I decided to turn it around and head back uphill to get in some more good climbing.

Once at the top of the trail and back at Double Oak Way, I headed towards the power line crossing at the southern ridge.  From there it was backtracking and a little climbing up the steep hill leading to the northern ridge trail.  Rain had already started and I was running out of time before a luncheon at church so I headed back home via Double Oak Way and Hwy 41.  All told it was around 19.4 miles with around 2100 feet of climbing.

The Great White Hope is really dialed in at the moment (except for a front tire that has been leaking air) and proved to be fairly fast.  I was able to post my best times so far on several Strava segments, so I look to only improve upon that as I actually start to get more riding time in this summer.

Some random photos from the ride are posted below.