Category Archives: Biking

Deja View.

Not much happening. Just waiting and seeing. Right now, seeing a whole lot of nothing. Before I get into it, though, right as I was writing this, I got some hugely relieving news regarding the whole COVID thing – not going to get into it (and it wasn’t me), but…whew. This is the new normal. And it’s not normal.

Mountain Outfitters Monteagle

I decided to head back up to Sewanee to bicycle the Mountain Goat Trail. It’s been exactly 3 years since the last time I pedaled there, although I’ve been to Sewanee many times for hiking and other exploring in the interim. Like everything, some good trips, some not so great. This trip was one of the good ones. 24 miles, all over Sewanee, the University of the South, and neighboring Monteagle.

The Domain

I don’t really have much to say about it – I came, I saw, I rode. There was some exploring of new places, and, of course, tasty treats. I love this area – quiet, peaceful, nice people. Lots of outdoors stuff to do, as well. I’ll probably spend the next couple of weekends here, before the weather turns cold. Even though I’ve done many things in the area, there are still a few stones to kick over, and a few stones I want to kick for a second or third time. Anything beats just sitting here watching the photos on the Echo scroll by. So, in the past month or so, more than 200 miles on the bike, at Sewanee, Sterchi Farm, Chief Ladiga, Hamilton Place and a few other rides. Everybody has to be somewhere.

I’ve also ordered a bunch of new stuff for the mountain bike. Too much to get into – but after the recent mods, and now all the new stuff inbound, the bike is going to be great for long-distance, maybe-overnight rides. Should have all the new goodies and gadgets in time for this weekend. Fingers crossed.

In other adventure-related news, I got up in the middle of the night last weekend and went for a moonlight paddle. I haven’t paddled in the dark in a while, and it was great. A little dangerous – I mean, you’re completely invisible in a kayak on the open water in the dark (but my boat does have a light on it). Only a few miles, but really cool and worth the risk. Did I mention that everybody has to be somewhere?

So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep on muddling through, coming up with COVID-friendly, socially-distanced things to do. With any luck, a week from now, everything will be more optimistic. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll see.

Links:
Sewanee Mountain Goat Trail Photo Album on Facebook
Moonlight Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

Empty.

Well, suddenly, I guess my Bucket List is empty. At least empty of the activities and adventures I wanted to accomplish before the inevitable march of time does its thing. Sure, there are still places I’d like to see, things I’d like to do, but nothing I’m going to regret not doing if my number gets called tomorrow. Of course, there are non-activities that I would like to accomplish, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that at this point, those things are…unlikely. That’s just something I’ll have to learn to accept.

Georgia Alabama State Line

So, the last bucket list item was like so many others: accomplished, but not the way I had hoped or expected. But accomplished, nonetheless. In this case, it was bicycling the entire 66-mile Chief Ladiga Trail, which completed my conquest of the Silver Comet Trail/Chief Ladiga Trail systems. Nearly 185 miles across Georgia and Alabama, spread over 4 rides. The Chief Ladiga ride took 2 days of riding, not to mention hours in the Jeep getting there and getting back. And, like so many of the other Bucket List Adventures, there was no brass band waiting at the end. It was just…done. And y’know, I don’t even really have much to say about it. I went, I rode, I tried to clear my head (which appears to have been wasted effort), came back to the same shitshow I left. Am I surprised? Not even a little bit.

Chief Ladiga Trail

This should have been a really big deal. Not that many people have biked the entire SCT/CLT, and it really takes a lot of deep digging to do it, even if it is spread over 4 rides (which, FYI, makes my average about 46.25 miles for each ride – do you know anyone that can ride 46 miles? Can you?). But I guess it wasn’t, and that was less about the ride, and more about the circumstances of the ride. Just like the recent Tail of the Dragon motorbike trip – I did it, I’m glad I did it, but it just wasn’t the way I hoped or expected it would be. That has been a recurring theme in my life over the past year or so.

So, I guess “done” will just have to do. I can’t see any reason I’ll ever go back, having done the complete trail system. Generally, once I scratch something off the list, I move on – but now, there’s nothing really to move on to. I do have one other thing I’ve been kicking around doing on the motorbike, and I might shoot for that this weekend, while I still can. Something dangerous (like most motorbike adventures), and something I definitely should NOT be doing alone, but hey, doing all these other things alone hasn’t killed me – there are plenty of other things trying to do that.

CLT

In any event, I’ve ridden the entire Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga Trail. Yay, me. No one really cares, but yay, me.

With that said, I feel like I kinda need to address something, since I probably won’t have much – if anything – to add here in the future, and the world is probably gonna end, anyway. I’ve made no secret about my opinion of how people are behaving during this whole pandemic. I stand by those statements. Furthermore, I would never, ever do something so careless, selfish and foolish that might jeopardize the health of people I care about. There was a concert I really wanted to go to last week, and another next month was just announced. Did I/will I? No. There have been people who’ve asked me to do things with them. Will I? No. I might do something if it was socially-distanced, and ONLY if I knew the health status of every single person involved (so, you can probably figure out the under/over on that). There’s too much on the line – those closest to me know what I’m referring to; the rest of you, trust me. And now, with things taking a turn for the (much) worse, this is even more important. So, I’m going to just settle in for a long winter by myself, just like last winter (although for different reasons). I spent the last Long, Lonely Winter doing stuff around the house, and there’s always house stuff to do. I’d also like to do some improvements in the barn, to see if I can squeeze 3 motorbikes in there (yeah, I came very, very close to buying another bike about 2 weeks ago – a pure dirt bike, because *cough* reasons. Found one I liked, went to look at it, had the cash in my hand, and [luckily] then backed out at the last second. Still doesn’t mean I won’t get a third bike at some point, though.). I’m sure I’ll find stuff to do to keep busy. Anyway, it’s better to be safe than dead (I think), and I’m not so selfish that I would even consider hurting anyone in my orbit. Or not in my orbit. Whether or not you believe me, those are the facts. The rest of you, go to Applebees or hang out with your friends or hook up or do whatever it is you think is more important than your health and the health of those around you. I have a completely clear conscious.

On a completely unrelated note, I was behind a young woman in the checkout line at WM the other day, and to make a long story short, she didn’t have enough money for her essentials and a bag of Halloween candy for (I assume) her kids. So, after giving it back to the cashier and completing her purchase, I asked her to wait a sec so I could pay for her candy. She cried. Now, I’m not telling you this to humblebrag (honest) – I was in kind of a dark place at the time (go figure), and I felt like I needed a little good karma. I know you’re wondering how that worked out for me – well, really, do you even need to ask? But you don’t do a good deed in hope of a reward, just like you don’t keep your promises in order to get a pat on the back. You do these things because they are the right things to do, and I do these things – good deeds, keep promises, stand up for the little guy – because contrary to some people’s opinions, I’m not an asshole. Imagine that.

Anyway, stay safe. I guess. Whatever. Meanwhile, Paul Young.



Link:
Chief Ladiga Trail Photo Album on Facebook

Super, Moist.

As is often the case for me, things didn’t exactly go as planned. I’m referring to my planned trip to bicycle the 66-mile Chief Ladiga Trail, to complete the entire Silver Comet system. What happened? Hurricane Delta, and about 4 inches of rain.

However, you’ll recall that last week, I made significant upgrades to the Kona, so I decided I had to go ride anyway, but just in-town. In the rain. Like a dummy.

Super Moist

So, I went to…the mall. This was actually a great place to ride – miles and miles of flat, plenty of places to “duck” into (pun explained momentarily) if it really started pouring, and I’m familiar with the area. Plus, right now, the mall doesn’t open until 11:00 AM, so I was able to start early and knock out a number of miles before traffic got heavy.

Hamilton Place MapThe Kona performed amazingly. The new Maxxis tires I installed last week did so well in the rain, and the handlebar riser completely changes my comfort level (and this is why I had to ride regardless of weather – I wanted to test everything before the Chief Ladiga trip). Those tires cost as much as car tires, but so worth it; super-grippy, but fast rolling. I also installed a rear light/reflector combo, which is pretty cool – no more attaching a rear light on my (new, replacement) tailbag; it’ll just always be there on the tailbag mount, and it doubles as a reflector for day riding. That’s some real Star Trek sh*t right there.

Anyway, 16 miles in and around the mall, and I finally got to visit Duck Donuts (pun explained), which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Made to order donuts? Count me in. Made other food stops, as well – not the best food-decision weekend. Worth it.

Next stop, the Chief Ladiga Trail, and riding all over central Alabama. Roald Amundsen said, “Adventure is just bad planning” – and while he knew what he was talking about, I think I’ve got the next adventure planned out pretty well.

Now, if you clicked on the map, you’ll see that my mapping software has changed. In their questionable wisdom, the people at Suunto have decided to kill off the awesome Movescount software I’ve gotten to know and love over the years, in favor of an app-based solution. Ugh. I’m still figuring out how to leverage it to suit my needs, but at least I was able to create a link to the map, even though it’s app-based. Now, I need to figure out how to let you lot see it in miles versus kilometers, as well as a few other things, but I’m working on that.

On an unrelated note, Delta knocked over a few trees over the weekend, and there was one in particular that was going to land squarely on my driveway. Nothing my trusty Jeep can’t handle.


Alabama, here I come. Hide your daughters.

Link:
Hamilton Place Photo Album on Facebook

Comet…Slayer?

This weekend, a long-awaited return to the Silver Comet Trail. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and finally found the motivation to get off my ass and do it. Like the Dragon, it’s not an impromptu adventure – it’s 2.5 hours away, and the westbound segment I wanted to do is almost all remote; that is, if something goes wrong, or you get jumped by a bear or whatever, you’re on your own. There’s an urban area at the trailhead in Rockmart GA, and there’s Cedartown GA, at about the halfway point, but other than that, it’s just you and whatever you have with you.Silver Comet Trail
That said, I had no problems at all. Hit the trail right at sunrise, and powered through fairly easily to Cedartown (including the very aptly named Surprise Hill, which is a brutal hill that just keeps going). Past Cedartown, a pretty flat ride all the way to the Alabama state line, and the start of the Chief Ladiga Trail, which was my turnaround point. The ride back was also uneventful, and felt faster than the ride in, as return legs often are for me. At the end, exactly 50 miles, and completion of the entire SCT (and full disclosure, the actual out-and-back was only 47.5 miles, so I rode further east down the trail a little way when I got back to the Jeep so that I’d hit 50 miles on the dot when I was done). If you care, see the Movescount data right here.
Rockmart to Alabama
Next up, the Chief Ladiga Trail, maybe next weekend (weather permitting). It’s 33 miles from the Alabama state line to the end of the trail in Anniston, so 66 miles round trip, which might be a little ambitious, since I haven’t been riding much. I’ve done as much as 100 miles on the bike on one ride, but it’s been a minute, and my legs may not have 66 miles in them right now (and the trail distances don’t equate what I actually end up doing, with my propensity to explore side trails, towns, and whatever I stumble across). More likely, I’ll do Piedmont to the state line (about 20 miles r/t), then take a side trip on the Pinhoti Trail to stretch it into a 40-or-so-mile ride, then do Piedmont to Anniston later in the year, or if the weather looks good all weekend, I might just spend the night in Alabama and do the 2nd leg on Sunday. Additionally, there’s also the newest, still-under-construction segment, from Mile 0 in Smyrna, which leads into Atlanta – so, plenty to ride still. In preparation, I ordered some new Maxxis Rekon EXO 3C MaxxSpeed tires, as well as tubes, Presta aluminum valve covers and a stem extender so I can raise my handlebars up a little (the downside of being tall). I guess if it ends up raining this weekend, I know what I’ll be doing in the barn all day Saturday. Like riding a motorbike, knowing how to do “bike stuff” is a prerequisite if you’re serious about mountain biking or even road biking. Anyway, about $200 for tires & tubes, so not cheap at all, but these tires should make my ride much better.

And y’know, biking (and kayaking, hiking, motorbiking, etc) is a perfect activity for these times we live in. Natural social distancing – no close contact with anyone required, unlike some other activities. Seriously, after the events of the past week especially, anyone who gathers in a group of people – especially casual acquaintances or whatever – is a complete flippin’ moron, and whatever happens to you is entirely your own stupid, stupid fault. Or, as John Oliver said last night, “…the thing about a highly contagious virus is your recklessness could end up killing someone you never even meet.” Or, y’know, killing someone you have met. Maybe even someone you like. Or don’t like.

Whichever. Dead is still dead.

Link:
Silver Comet Trail Photo Album on Facebook

Dragon Slayer.

Welp, here we are, once more. It’s been a while since I added anything here, and – as usual – it’s been a tumultuous couple of months. Second verse, same as the first.

But there was Really Big News worth reporting, which is why I’m writing now. I’ve had a few adventures these past months; some good, some bad, some not worth thinking too much about. The Master Adventure Map is somewhat significantly updated, though. But the Really Big News is this: I finally rode the Tail of the Dragon.

Tail of the Dragon

And no, not just in the Jeep like I’ve done before. Although I did take the Jeep down the Dragon with the motorcycle in tow before making a run on the bike. I wanted the cool professional photos of the Jeep/trailer, but I also wanted to scout the road on 4 wheels before running it on 2, just so I’d have fresh in my mind anything I needed to be conscious of – potholes, oil, downed trees, etc.

Tail of the Dragon

Prior to the trip, significant work on the trailer was required. For one thing, since I lifted the Jeep last spring, I needed a new trailer hitch that dropped lower (so the trailer was level). And when I hooked it up, I found out that the lights were all squirrely. A real head-scratcher; they worked if the headlights were on, but the turn signals were backwards. They kinda worked on one side if the headlights were off. That kind of weirdness. To make a long story short, it was a combination of old bulbs in the trailer, and a short in the aftermarket LED bumper lights in the Jeep. A real pain to sort out single handedly, too – had to set up a mirror so I could see what the lights were doing when I hit the brakes and what-not. Have I mentioned I need a little helper? Feel free to drop me your resume and qualifications.

Tail of the Dragon

Anyway, after the test run in the cage, the real goal – getting out there on the motorbike. This is something I’ve been talking about for years (seriously), and it was exciting to finally be actually doing it, even if it was solo. For at least the past two years, I’ve been hoping to go, but something always got in the way – work, weather, mechanical stuff, life (ahem), but this time, the stars all lined up. Best of all, I didn’t die (OK, I guess that’s a matter of perspective). No real incidents of any kind. The run was fast and nice, and of course I mapped it using my fancy Suunto GPS watch – see the Movescount data right here. I started early enough that I missed the throng of afternoon riders (the road was just starting to get really crowded on my way back from the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort), so I didn’t have to deal too much with the ricer racers or any of that. One of the best adventures I’ve had, and that’s saying something. There was so much about it that wasn’t the way I hoped or planned, but at least I can now say I did it. I guess I need to update the Motorcycle page now.

Tail of the Dragon

I had such a good time, I’m thinking seriously about going back up in the next couple of weeks with the BMW. The BMW is a fast bike, but I’m not sure how the off-road tires will handle those curves. I guess there’s one way to find out. However, before I do that, I have another pretty cool trip planned for the Bimmer, hopefully next weekend. Another one of those stupid, crazy, dangerous bucket list things – but hey, who wants to live forever? Not me, that’s for sure.

Lower Piney Falls Now, in addition to the Dragon, there have been other adventures in the kayak, on the motorbike, the mountain bike, and in the boots (including my new Merrell Moabs, because shoes). Worth mentioning, and in no particular order, a short but really awesome and challenging hike at Piney Falls (Movescount data) with its two waterfalls (that’s Lower Piney Falls in the photo at the left), kayaking at Mud Creek (Movescount data), Foshee Pass (Movescount data) and Watts Bar Lake (Movescount data), all of which have helped fill out the blueway portion of my master map. There was a return to mountain biking at Sterchi Farm (Movescount data) and a long-wanted bucket list MTB ride at the Chickamauga Battlefield (Movescount data). A whole bunch of random hikes, walks and treks in town and out, including a bucket list visit to Twin Arches (Movescount data), and a sentimental visit to historic Rugby (Movescount data). Several dual-sport rides in the woods on the BMW, including a return to Insurance Bluffs (Movescount data). Even got the Jeep in on the action a few times. Just lots of activities, and hey, only a few significant injuries, none of which were especially life-threatening (although with some of the things I’ve done lately, I’m really, really tempting the gods of broken bones and death by adventure).

Silver Comet Trail

But I’m not done yet. In the planning stages for the next good weekend is a return to the Silver Comet Trail. I never really talked about my last trip there, but it went kinda south and almost ended badly (Movescount data), in no small part because I was, as usual, alone. Doesn’t matter now, but luckily at the time I had a guardian angel get me back to the trailhead before I died to death. Anyway, the trip I’m planning now is going to be headed west, to complete the remainder of the entire SCT. By my math, it’ll be about 50 miles round-trip, and since I won’t be doing it in August like last year, I should be able to scratch this off the ever-shrinking bucket list. I’m pretty excited about it – watch this space.

Clean Deck!

There’s always other projects, too. Pressure-washed the deck (after cleaning the rest of the gunk out of the pressure washer carb – again). Planted some bamboo for what I intend to be an entire grove next spring. Ordered some pink pampas grass to put around the deck. Put pavers at the bottom of the steps on the deck that I built last spring. Installed an awesome Alexa-enabled smart ceiling fan in my bedroom, along with some new Alexa-enabled bulbs (I had bought all this for a different project, but welcome to my world). I like projects/cleaning/etc, and I’m good at that kind of thing – and one thing is for certain, no one can ever accuse me of being a slob. One day this week, I’m going to replace the bottom of the vanity in my bathroom. I did the kitchen over the winter, and the other bathroom vanity a couple years ago. It needs it – over the years, the particle board gets wet and sags and stuff, so I’m going to replace it with plywood I was saving for another similar project that I’m not doing now. The kitchen turned out really nice; I’m sure my bathroom will, as well (and again, I could use a little helper). After that, I’m thinking of ripping up the carpet in the bedroom and replacing it with hardwood – I’ve already got my square footages, and I think I’ve found a wood that I like. Additionally, the 4 inches of rain we got last week showed me that the leaky roof I mended in my garage is actually properly repaired – you don’t screw with a leaky roof, unless you want mold and a desire to gut the entire ceiling. I guess I can indeed fix anything – one of only two things I’m evidently useful for.

On the COVID front, no socializing to speak of – no trips to the mall, concerts, movies or anything like that (but the drive-in closes soon, so I still might make a trip there), and certainly no slinging my DNA around in a group of people, because I’m not a f*cking moron (Addendum, October 2nd: Today has clearly shown us that if you’re stupid enough to willingly and eagerly go somewhere – anywhere – in a group of people that you have no idea the health status of – mask or no mask – then you deserve exactly what you f*cking get. Do your thing, Darwin.). I’m keeping a low profile and staying safe, I guess. Not sure exactly why, but here I sit. Oh, and right as I was updating this, I got some *cough* new footage on my Ring camera network. That’s the whole reason I installed the things. My private YT channel is…something. Ask me for a link. Some real fremdschämen, that’s for true. With Prime Day coming up, I’m going to add a couple more cameras, just…because.

Tomorrow, I have to change the combinations to all my locks and stuff, because of course I do.

Did I mention I rode the Tail of the Dragon? And didn’t die? Sorry, maybe next time.


Links:
Piney Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Professional Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Personal Photo Album on Facebook
Chickamauga Battlefield Mountain Biking Photo Album on Facebook
Twin Arches, Hazard Cave, Historic Rugby and Foshee Pass Photo Album on Facebook

It’s the End of the World Yadda Yadda.

Well, maybe, anyway. Who knows? But I’m not gonna dwell on that right now – I’ll just say that I hope all my people are well, and doing what they should be doing. Specifically, keeping your DNA to yourself. Of course, if you’re one of those people who’s always out there slinging your DNA around anyway, me telling you to cut it out isn’t going to make any difference (trust me, I’ve been down that road before it was the end of the world). So, you know, whatever. Gross.

Moving on.

Jeep Cherokee Tow Hooks

I have been keeping busy. Back in February, you’ll recall I ordered skid plates and tow hooks for the Jeep. Well, they finally showed up, and then I finally had time to actually install them. Let me tell you, that was a chore. Had to take apart the entire front-end of the Jeep, and had to deal with the inevitable unforeseen issues that always pop up. Especially difficult to do single-handedly. Well, not difficult, exactly, but time-consuming. Crawling under the Jeep, realizing I needed a different tool, crawling back out, blah blah. I could use a little helper. Regardless, I got it done, and I’m pleased with the results. I’d like to get the remaining skid plates for the chassis and gas tank, but that will have to wait until this uncertainty is past. I’ve spent probably $1000 on groceries and supplies in the past 10 days, and that’s a better use of my money right now (and for what it’s worth, I’m stocked up for at least the next 3 months, if it comes down to that).

Raccoon Mountain

Obviously, under current circumstances, there hasn’t been much adventuring, but I did decide to get out on the mountain bike for a little bit. That and kayaking are reasonably safe pursuits, because there’s no close contact with other people (and none of the aforementioned slinging of DNA). So, I went back up to Raccoon Mountain and rode around up there – not too much; I have to get my bike legs back in shape, since all I’ve been doing for the past year is hiking (mostly). I guess hiking season is done, though, so now it’s going to just be cycling and kayaking (plus riding the motorbikes, natch). I didn’t really hit the actual MTB trails too much; this was mostly a pavement ride, just to get back into the swing. That’s probably going to be how I spend the next several weekends until it gets a little warmer. Still, nice to get out of the house, and it’s been almost 3 years since the last time I rode RM, so going back was a nice diversion from the global shitshow.

Raccoon Mountain Map

I’ll probably hop on the Kestrel this week. I put new tires on it over the winter, and haven’t been on it since. I’ve come up with a few interesting places to ride besides the typical Riverwalk, so in the interest of keeping things fresh, I’m gonna go explore. Everybody has to be somewhere, right?

The Human Peepshow That Is My Life.

As is becoming the norm, lots going on, but really, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. That whole, “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt” mentality (paraphrasing Twain; being told you’re stupid your entire life will pull the Twain out of you). Besides, when I open my donut hole, I always get myself in trouble, especially if actual donuts are involved. Nonetheless, if you care, which you don’t, here’s the highlights:

November 2017…

Shadow Phantom Motorcycle

…and now – same bike, lotsa new stuff. Click for larger.

I finally got some new motorbike pics. It had been awhile since I had good photos taken, and the bike is dramatically different now – new pipes, saddlebags, headlight, floorboards, saddle, crashbars, yadda, yadda. So, for posterity or something: Motorcycle Photoshoot Photo Album on Facebook

Kestrel Bicycle

click for larger

Because I’m just never satisfied (evidently) and because the Silver Comet Trail tried to murder me to death a few weeks ago, I bought a new bike. A Kestrel Airfoil Pro racing bike. All carbon fiber, stupidly fast and light. Right around 1/3 the weight of my fully-laden swallow Kona Hei Hei mountain bike. It’s going to take some getting used to – the geometry is completely different than my MTB, and the aerobars – the secondary handlebars that are designed to be leaned on – are completely alien to me, but so far, I dig it. Kestrel Road Bike Photo Album on Facebook

Burgess Falls

click for larger

There were some adventures, as well. A kayak/hiking trip to majestic Burgess Falls; one of my few remaining bucket list items. This was an amazing adventure; one for the books. Burgess Falls Photo Album on FacebookBurgess Falls Paddle Movescount DataBurgess Falls Hike Movescount Data

Twin Falls at Rock Island

click for larger

Also, a three-hike day at Rock Island. Lots of waterfalls, easy trails, hard trails, and everything in between. This wasn’t really a bucket list item, because I wasn’t really aware of the area; just peripherally. So, I guess this qualifies more as a “hidden gem”. Whatever, I’ll take it.
Rock Island Photo Album on FacebookRock Island I Movescount DataRock Island II Movescount DataRock Island III Movescount Data

Next, I think a road trip…

Buckets and Lists

I know I said I was done here, and I still am. However, I also said if there was anything significant to report, I would. And there have been a number of significant bucket list items scratched off – basically, I’ve been on the go, non-stop. Like I have anything better to do? I don’t have the time or inclination to go into everything; just go look at the pretty pictures (or video) or whatever.

And with that said, here’s what I’ve done:

Tail of the Dragon (OK, in the Jeep, not the motorbike): Dragon Photo AlbumProfessional Drive-By Dragon Photo AlbumTail of the Dragon Video 1Tail of the Dragon Video 2Movescount Data [Inbound]Movescount Data [Outbound]

Bat Cave Paddle: Bat Cave Photo AlbumBat Cave VideoMovescount Data

Submerged Cemetery Paddle: Mullins Cove Submerged Cemetery Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Buggytop Cave Crawl-Through: Buggytop Cave Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Solomon’s Temple (mind the rattlesnake): Solomon’s Temple Cave Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Fiery Gizzard Through-Hike: Fiery Gizzard Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Silver Comet Bike Ride: Silver Comet Photo AlbumSilver Comet Trail VideoMovescount Data

Market Street Bridge Opening Paddle: Market Street Bridge Opening Photo AlbumMarket Street Bridge VideoMovescount Data

Whew. But I’m not done – I’m going to return to finish up the Silver Comet, I’m still planning on taking the motorbike to the Dragon, and I have a couple of other adventures lined up. Life is short, y’know, and time is running out.

As always, the Master Adventure Map has been updated – check it out, see how awesome I am.

Anti-Social Network.

I’m rapidly getting over the various social network platforms. Sure, I like pictures of cats doing stupid things as much as the next person, but seeing strangers insulting/arguing with each other, the non-stop parade of spammers, and every company out there trying to sell me shit I don’t need is getting old. And yeah, I realize the irony in posting that here. So, for now, anyway, I’m going to limit my online activity to my Movescount, which shows all the maps and selected photos from my adventuring. That’s about all that keeps me motivated anymore, anyway – well, that and binging Naked & Afraid (which I absolutely want to do).

Because I haven’t really posted anything here in months, there’s some catch-up to do. There have been adventures, despite my knee still giving me a hard time. Thankfully, the Winter of Our Discontent is over, so I’ve taken the kayak out, ridden the mountain bike, and been on both motorbikes. And, of course, hiking.


In no particular order, there was mountain biking at Edwards Point; one of my favorite places. It’s been a bucket list item of mine to bicycle through the woods to the Point, and it was worth it. Only about 17 miles, but all slop; mud, rocks, streams and poorly-marked trails. Now I have a much better sense of the trails and Jeep roads, so I’ll be going back before the weather warms up too much.

Click for larger, or Movescount data.

I also took the kayak out for the first paddle of the season. This, too, was one of my favorite places – the ruins of old Harrison, the town that was destroyed when the dam was built back in the 1930s. It’s super-compelling; in the winter, the water level of the lake is low, so old foundations, roads and other debris are exposed, and (to me, anyway), it’s really interesting. In addition, I landed at Patten Island, and had a more extensive hike than the last time I visited. Really awesome way to start the paddling season.

Click for larger, or Movescount data.

And hiking. Really, more than I feel like spelling out; I’ll just say that they were all amazing, challenging, sometimes dangerous hikes, with some visits to old spots (like Falling Water Falls), as well as new ones:

Mystery Falls (Movescount)
Raccoon Mountain Caverns (Movescount)
Mountain Beautiful Trail & Incline #1 (Movescount)
Spiritualist Campground (Movescount)
Skyuka Spring (Movescount)
Cloudland Canyon – Bear Creek Trail (Movescount)
Falling Water Falls (Movescount)
Mushroom Rock/Suck Creek Gorge (Movescount)
Persimmon Branch Dual-Sport Ride (Movescount)


There we go, all caught up. Oh, and all this activity has been incorporated into the Master Adventure Map – if you want to be impressed and/or tired, you should check it out.

I’ve also been going through a full-blown purge out in the barn, because reasons. Lots and lots and lots of stuff gone, and more still to go. The practical upside of this – well, one of them, anyway – is that I have plenty of room for the motorbikes, kayaks, mountain bike, unicycle, and other devices I’m in a perpetual state of trying to kill myself on. Who says there’s not a plus side to being compulsively neat?

click for larger


Now, after going to all the trouble of writing all of…that, the most important thing: my sweet BlackJack turned 7 years old in February. Not only does that mean that we’ve been best pals for 7 years (technically, 7 years next Monday, since he was 8 weeks old when he came to me), it also means it’s been 7 years since the Great Unpleasantness. I don’t know where the years have gone. I don’t know where they’re going, either, but hopefully it’ll be more interesting than just stomping around in the forest by my onesies. Nonetheless, Happy Birthday, BJ.

Links:
Edwards Point MTB Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Old Harrison Paddle Photo Album on Facebook
Mystery Falls/Raccoon Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
Lookout Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
Cloudland Canyon/Bear Creek Photo Album on Facebook
Falling Water Falls/Mushroom Rock Photo Album on Facebook

Tag-A-Long.

Once more, time has slipped away from me. Just too flippin’ busy. Work, adventuring, planning for adventuring, standing in the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart sobbing – the usual. I mean, have you seen those giant Crunch Berries? What about chocolate Frosted Flakes? Frick.

1000There’s been a ton of things happening, and not all of it is sh*t. Probably the most significant is that I finally earned my 1000 badge on my AppleWatch. Yeah, I know – who cares? Just me. But it was a big deal to me. I guess that shows some level of commitment or something. First, I crossed 50 million steps on my Fitbit by my 5-year FB anniversary in June (and FYI, I’m closing in on 52 million now), and now, this. The 1000 day badge is the highest badge the AppleWatch awards, so I guess I’m King of the AppleWatch Fiefdom now – I need to get a sash. That said, as of today, I’m at 992 consecutive days hitting my numbers, so, next Friday, I guess I really will be done. I’ll still go to the gym and what-not, but I think my crazy-ass fitness journey will be coming to an end – which means I’ll probably get run over by a truck.

click for larger

click for larger

In fact, I’m actively trying to get run over by a truck. That’s right, I found a trailer for the motorbike, which means I’m ready for my run on the Dragon. Well, almost. I have some rear-facing lights to install on the Jeep, and some running lights to install on the trailer, and all sorts of stuff ordered for the trip, but I’m ready. It’s mostly gonna be up to Mother Nature at this point. But really, I’m just thrilled – the trailer is motorbike-specific; a Kendon Single Stand-Up, and it’s plenty for my bike, without being too much. Pricey, yes, but worth it. So, I’ve installed the OEM trailer hitch and wiring on the Jeep, I’ve done all the work I’ve done on the motorbike, and now I have a trailer, all leading up to one of the most exciting (and dangerous) adventures I’ve been on. Can’t wait. My “dry run” loading the motorbike and driving around with it went perfectly, so brace yourself Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort, because I’m coming.


I’ve actually been kinda training for the ride, as well. Yes, you can train for a motorbike ride – basically, that consists of just getting used to being in the saddle for an extended period and dealing with your ass going to sleep. Or whatever. So, in this case, my training took me to Russell Cave National Monument, down across the Alabama state line. Great ride; about 90 miles round trip, with some fast roads, and some Hooterville-like back roads…


…it wasn’t all sunshine and farts, though – or at least sunshine. The downside to riding a bike is you never know what Mother Nature is gonna throw at you. So, you can be just bopping along in the sun, and suddenly, you’re soaked.


Life of a motorbike jockey. This was actually the first time – ever – I’ve had this bike in the rain, and she did great. Wouldn’t be my first choice, riding in the rain, that is, but at least I know the bike is up for the challenge. Oh, and those jeans? Those are Joe Rocket Accelerator jeans. Kevlar reinforced, internal pockets for knee armor, zippered pockets, reflective stripes. Designed for the motorbike. More expensive than my awesome Calvins, but at least if i go down, I’ll have some protection.

There’s been other stuff, as well, because of course there has been. Last weekend, I crammed more adventure into 2 days than I have in a long time. Saturday, I put the boat in the water, and returned to the Harrison Bay for paddling the old ruins, and hiking on Patten Island and the Bay Point Loop Trail.

It was an awesome day of adventure; 12 miles paddling, with about 1.5 miles in the middle on Patten Island, and then a 5 mile hike. It’s been a while since I did a two-sport day, and this was perfect – a new trail, another island to explore, and perfect weather. And wildlife.


But that was just half the adventure. Sunday, another two-fer, but this time it was mountain biking and hiking, both in new places.

First up, about 8 miles on the mountain bike trails at Booker T. Washington State Park. I grew up near here, and I’ve landed my kayak here in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to the park, and I certainly have never bicycled it. Not a lot of trails, and not super-technical, but still, a nice little ride to start the day.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

After that, a trip to the nearby Summit Knobs Equestrian Trails. I visited the trailhead a few weeks ago on my Enterprise South MTB Ride, but I didn’t actually go on the trail, since bikes are verboten (heh, get it? ESNP is part of VW, which is German – ah, never mind. And, “Klink, I need to be in Brussels in ze morning!”). Aaaanyway, the equestrian trail is about 16 miles R/T, but by afternoon and after an MTB ride, it was too flippin’ hot to do the whole thing. Still, 6 miles; not too shabby.

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

So, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s a long motorbike ride (partly in the rain), a new trailer, 2 hikes, a paddle and a pedal, plus getting the motorbike ready for the Big Adventure. And earning my 1000 badge on the Apple Watch. Therefore, when someone asks you “Who’s the most active person you know?”, you know what to tell them. Right? Right.

Links:
Russell Cave Motorbike Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Harrison Bay Paddle & Hike Photo Album on Facebook
Booker T. MTB Ride & Equestrian Trail Hike Photo Album on Facebook