Category Archives: Exercise

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

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

Passion & Warfare.

Van Halen may have been Hot For Teacher first, but Little Stevie Vai did it better. This was always a favorite – both the song and the video – and I’m glad it finally showed up on the YT.


That Steve Vai, what a nice little boy.

This weekend, chores. Spring cleaning. Something. Trees to prune, scrap lumber to gather (from the steps project), and tinkering. Had to get the old tractor running so I can get rid of it (I bought a new tractor last summer; and had to take the mounting brackets for the bulldozer blade off the old one to put on the new one, and just finally got around to that). Cleaned out the garage a little, straightened up the barn, blah blah. It’s always something, and now I have a big pile of brush in my firepit to burn. Need to get some marshmallows.


But Sunday, a little leisure time. A visit to Blowing Wind Falls on the Ritchie Hollow Trail (Movescount data) – I haven’t been here in forever, and I wanted to get the Jeep and its new shoes in the woods; that, and I’m scouting places to camp as soon as Mother Nature settles down. Anyway, something new at the falls – scaled the bluff face adjacent to the falls to explore a cave (yeah, I know, shut up). Somewhat dangerous, but you know me. The view was worth it, at least.

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The Jeep did well in the mud and dirt and whatnot, but I really didn’t push it much. The front tow hooks and the skid plates I ordered should be here in the next week or so; once I get those, then I can see what the Buggy can really do in the woods. Still, just driving around in the forest is nice, even if it’s on the less-than-challenging roads.

Additionally, I had to discharge my responsibilities and put up a new flag at the cemetery. I installed a 30′ pole there years ago, so I periodically have to replace the flag. It’s pretty deep in the woods, but right on the main trail, so people do see it. Next, I need to replace the pole itself – it’s starting to show its age.

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Following the hike to Blowing Wind Falls, a required stop at Snooper’s Rock, and the work at the cemetery, a side hike to the Indian Rock House on the Cumberland Trail. It’s an easy hike; only about 1.5 miles round trip. This place has a little significance to me – when I first started hiking, this was one of my go-to spots to train. It’s not extremely difficult, although the last little bit through the “fat man squeeze” is somewhat challenging (and surprisingly, I fit). Because I was doing different things, I decided to scale the bluff to get back to the top, versus just going up the steps. No major screw ups (obviously).

Following that, the last stop was at Middle Creek. The last time I was here was kinda a train wreck, so it was nice to come back and enjoy the triple waterfall and other features. My intention is to boulder all the way to the top of the mountain, and after the limited bouldering I did here to get to the falls, it’s clear I need more leg days at the gym. Bouldering to the top is going to be incredibly dangerous, and if I’m going to attempt it, I need to do it soon, before Mother Nature unleashes the rattlesnakes and copperheads. Fingers crossed.

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So, I guess all things being equal, not a terrible weekend. But I’m ready for warmer weather. I need some motorcycle time, as well as some kayaking time. Soon. I’ve got my eye on you, Mother Nature.

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

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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

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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

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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…

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?

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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

Groundhog Day Again.

As is becoming more normal, it’s been a little bit. No real reason why; just the doldrums of winter (or something). It’s not like there hasn’t been a load of stuff going on; there has. Adventure, shopping, wrenching, injuries – it’s always something. So, just the highlights.

There was hiking, because of course there was. The first hike was a death march in the freezing cold from the bottom of Lookout Mountain at Reflection Riding, all the way to the top at Sunset Rock, followed by miles along the bluff, across the state line to Covenant College, down the mountain to Skyuka Spring, and back. 13.25 miles, and more than 1400′ in elevation. Really, really hard. Seriously, if you’ve been to Sunset Rock, think about what you see in the valley below, then imagine climbing all the way up. Compound that with ice all over the rocky ledges, a little sleet, and roaring mountain winds. Stupidly dangerous. But awesome.

Lookout Mountain - Kiddie Trail to Sunset Rock

Click for larger, or check out the complete interactive Movescount map.

There’s one more significant trail I intend to conquer on that side of the mountain, and I’m also planning a hike up one side which will culminate in a ride back down on the Incline Railway. I’ve never been on the Incline. Never wanted to. But with my newfound “laughing in the face of death” attitude, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?

Next, on to the Rock Creek Gorge. This was the last major segment of the Three Gorges Segment of the Cumberland Trail that I needed to conquer, and I did (at great expense to my knee). This time, 14.15 miles in a really, really rugged gorge – but the scenery was totally worth it, and the weather was awesome.

Rock Creek Gorge Map

Click for larger, or see the interactive Movescount map.

Along the trail, I encountered a local (henceforth known as “Fat Ron Weasley”; I suspect in the woods because NASCAR wasn’t on) who warned of a pair of bears that frequent the area. Swell. Like Bones said, “I choose the danger – hell of a time to ask.” Reminder for next time – bring the bear repellant.

And yeah, I wrecked my knee. Badly. But snaps to The Science Channel for showing how knee replacement surgery is done on How It’s Made while I was flat on my back icing the thing. Um, no thanks – I really don’t want my bones sawed off and replaced with plastic. Although I may not have a choice. A week later, and I’m ready for someone to take me out behind the barn and shoot me.

Karma Controller Mounted on BMW MotorcycleThere was shopping, as well. Too much shopping. My iPhone 6 has been flaky lately, so I upgraded to an iPhone 8 Plus. Been wanting to make the swap because of the dramatically better camera, but couldn’t really justify $900+ American dollars just for the camera. That said, I need to be able to depend on the thing while in the woods (because bears) or in the boat (also, probably bears) or on the motorcycle (bears, but a different kind) or whatever. So, here we are. And speaking of better cameras, a new GoPro Hero7 Black; the newest, fanciest GoPro. I had been wanting this for the onboard image stabilization; should make better videos on the motorbike(s). Speaking of the motorbike and GoPros, I got all the pieces and parts to mount my GoPro Karma drone controller on the handlebars, so I can use the drone’s “follow me” functions. Should make some awesome videos, and the way I designed the bracket, I can also mount it on my mountain bike, kayak, other motorbike or whatever. This should make for some great aerial footage, once Mother Nature decides to stop being a b*tch.

And you know why she’s doing it? Because I fixed my other motorbike. I’m not positive exactly what happened to it, but my hypothesis is that I had a power surge in the barn, which went through the Battery Tender and fried the battery. Not positive, but a new battery fixed it, and while I was at it, I re-did all the connectors for the dashcams, glow lights and other electronics I’ve added. It’s gratifying to turn a wrench and solve a problem. And yeah, I’ve installed surge suppression on the circuit in the barn.

Honda Shadow Phantom VT750C2B

Now that riding season is almost here, there’s still two things I intend to do on the bike: add a Cobra Fuel Management System, and a Cobra PowerFlo Intake. The PowerFlo intake is basically like a hood scoop you see on a race car – it pushes much more air into the engine, resulting in more power, especially off the line (See that oval thing on the side of the bike? That’s the factory intake, but it’s a closed system, so it doesn’t allow much air straight into the engine; just enough to make it run properly.). And the fuel management system works in conjunction with the PowerFlo to optimize the air/fuel mix, again, improving power, acceleration and MPG. So, another $500ish, and I think I may finally have the bike exactly where I want it. Until I come up with something else.

BMW G650GS

In the short term, though, it’s gonna be the BMW. The big bike is ready to go, but it’s flippin’ cold to be out cruising along at 50 or 60 MPH on the open road. It’s still cold on the Bimmer, especially in the whole 1″ of snow we’ve gotten this year, but, y’know, it has heated grips, so there’s that.

Oh, and in the spirit of getting caught up, I finally got around to updating the Motorcycle page, which is of no interest to anyone but me – and just barely that. Now, no more shopping. Well, until I see something I like. Or want. Whatever.

Links:
Lookout Mountain Hike Photo Album on Facebook
Rock Creek Hike Photo Album on Facebook

Never a Dull Moment.

I’ve kinda gone full-on adventure mode. Following the defeat on the Falling Water trail, I needed a win, so I went out and scored several recently (plus, y’know, I don’t care to think about the holidays and stuff, hashtag-single-problems). Anyway, there were wins and adventures, and I didn’t kill myself, so here we are.

First up, the final trip the University of the South, to complete the last major trail on the Domain. This was the Ridge Trail and Caldwell Rim at Point Disappointment, which turned out to be aptly named, as this was the least interesting hike I’ve had there. It was somewhat challenging, with a descent into the gorge, but no caves, massive waterfalls, panoramas or any of the other grandeur I’ve come to expect from Sewanee (including topless coeds). On top of that, clouds, drizzle, sleet – so, Point Disappointment lives up to its name, but I’m still glad I did it so I can move on to the next area. There’s still stuff to do up there as the Mountain Goat Trail construction continues, but next time, it’ll probably be on the bicycle.

Hiking trails at the University of the South Sewanee

click for larger, or see the Master Adventure Map

Link:
Sewanee Point Disappointment Photo Album on Facebook

Then, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights. It’s been a long time since I visited Rock City, and even longer since I visited during the holiday festivities (humbug). Still, I’m glad I did. Weather was nice, salted caramel hot chocolate was decadent, and I was clever enough to head up the mountain in the daylight, before the massive traffic jam to get into the park after dark. A pleasant way to spend a December evening.

Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights

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Link:
Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights Photo Album on Facebook

Obviously, that wasn’t everything, though. There was a two-hike day, with one challenging, and one relaxing. The first one was at Sitton’s Gulch in Cloudland Canyon. Like Sewanee, this was the last significant hike to do there, and dramatically different from other ones I’ve done there. In this case, instead of starting at the top of the mountain, I started at the bottom, and a much-lesser used trailhead, and worked my way to the top. Only about 7.5 miles r/t, and close to 900 feet in elevation, but an awesome hike, and well worth the drive to get there. There are a few more lesser trails at Cloudland I’ll do at some point, but I’ve accomplished the majority of what I wanted to do there. Well, with the exception of a motorbike ride – that’ll come in the spring.

Hemlock Falls at Cloudland Canyon from the Sitton's Gulch Trail

Hemlock Falls – click for larger

After Sitton’s Gulch, a first-ever trip to Reflection Riding, mostly to scout the kayak launch. As Murphy would have it, because of the incessant recent moist weather, the kayak launch along with parts of the arboretum were under water. Still, it was a nice 3.5 mile hike to finish up the day, and it did give me an idea for the next hike, which will be very challenging. Just what I need.

Link:
Sitton’s Gulch and Reflection Riding Photo Album on Facebook

Signal Mountain Big Fork BMW G650GS Motorcycle Ride

Big Fork – click for larger

No span of adventure would be complete without some time on the (new) motorbike, and I did that, several times. Just the BMW – I haven’t been out on the Phantom in a bit (maybe next weekend, though). Mostly, I’m just getting acquainted with the BMW, but I have gone on a couple of 40-mile dual-sport rides, as well as some pure woodland adventures. Because off-road motorcycling is new to me, I’m kinda easing into it, figuring out what the machine’s limitations are (as well as my own). But so far, so good – haven’t crashed, gotten stuck, killed, or anything else bad. Knock on wood. And, holy cow, have I been throwing money at it. Engine guards, bigger footpegs (Why are the stock pegs so friggin’ tiny? My size 11.5s aren’t having that.), headlight guard, tail bag, rack for tail bag (incoming), GoPro mount, skid plate, Battery Tender™, jacket/pants/helmet, probably some other stuff I’m forgetting.


Link:
Big Fork Grand Prix Photo Album on Facebook

Speaking of GoPros and mounts, I just ordered the new Hero7 Black – the newest, top-of-the-line GoPro. I started with a 4 Silver, then got a 6 Black with the Karma drone, but allegedly, the difference between the 6 and the 7 is like the difference between the 4 and the 6. Plus, the 7 can use all the pieces and parts I have for the 6 (including the Karma); unlike the parts for the 4, which are incompatible with the 6 (and up). So, I’ll be able to run the 6 and the 7 at the same time, for some cool front/rear views, drone/bike views (if I can teach someone to fly the drone), or onboard/tripod views. I had been wanting to get another one for the Dragon last year – which I didn’t make it to – so now I’ve got that taken care of.

Hopefully, we’re on the downslide of winter, and warmer weather won’t be too far away (I’ve got my eye on you, you stupid giant rat; you better not see your shadow). I need some trails, I need the Dragon, I need a beach. I need a lot of things, and I’m not getting any younger.

…and with all the recent adventures, the Master Adventure Map has been significantly updated. Really, you should check it out if you’re looking for a trail to explore, a cool motorbike route, off-beaten-path kayak put-ins, or whatever. It’s pretty impressive. I’ve also updated the awesome Motorbike Page, what with the new bike and all – come take a spin down memory lane with me.

“And that’s the wayyyyyy the news goes!”

tv-dinners-622
I guess there was a holiday or something, right? Dunno. They all look the same to me. However, holiday or not, the weather was nice enough to take the bike for a little spin.


Yeah, I kinda almost went boom there near the end of the video. It happens. I at least have some comfort in knowing that because I wear the Safety Gear™, if i do ever kiss the pavement, I’ll most likely just slide along. Until a truck runs over me, that is. There’s no amount of Kevlar jeans that will help with that. Hopefully, I’ll catch it on either my GoPro or my newfangled front/rear motorbike dashcam. I’m less afraid of dying than I am of dying and not getting it on film – that’s the world we live in.

And since we’re speaking of bikes, I’ve got a line on a bike I’m going to look at on Saturday. A BMW G650 GS. I’ve been wanting an “adventure bike” – that is, a bike that can be ridden legally on-road, but is designed to be ridden off-road. This one is only slightly smaller than my Phantom (650cc vs. 750cc), but smaller is good for bouncing around in the woods or whatever. BMW bikes are supposed to be about the best you can get for this kind of activity – I’ve watched enough motorcycling documentaries to know that there’s a reason people ride these bikes in particular on awesome cross-country adventures (if you have Prime, check out “The Ride: London to Beijing” – fantastic 6-part documentary). I’m not sure I’m actually going to get it, but I very well might, if I can make a decent deal (and, of course, if I like the looks of it). We’ll see.

bmw

It does seem a little odd that a luxury car maker produces a capable off-road motorcycle, but hey, who am I to judge? Honda also makes lawn mowers, after all.

Big Soddy Creek Bridge - click for larger

Big Soddy Creek Bridge, June 2017 – click for larger

There was a little hiking, as well. I returned to the Possum Creek Gorge segment of the CT, and Imodium Falls. I’ve been to Imodium Falls before, on a 15-mile hike coming in from the south at the Heiss Mountain trailhead (where bears can be found). This time, it was 11.5 miles, coming in from the north at the Retro Hughes trailhead, which completed this segment. Next, on to the Rock Creek Gorge segment, but before that, I’ve discovered a newly-mapped trail that will lead to the Big Soddy Creek Bridge without the 10-mile hike from Heiss Mountain Road (and bears) to get there. This was the “locals only” trail that the kids I encountered had come in on; evidently, now it’s an official spur of the CT, and it basically goes from “town” right up the side of the mountain, so of course I’m going to do that. I’ve also read about some climbing walls in the area, so there’s that to check out, as well. Anyway, I’m gonna do that first, then Rock Creek, then maybe back to Sewanee to do Point Disappointment. Unless I buy a BMW motorbike this weekend – if that happens, all bets are off, but there will be some awesome new footage on my YouTube channel.

Sewanee, AKA The Domain.

sewanee-sign-622
Over the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been exploring the Domain of the University of the South, in Sewanee. I rode my mountain bike up here last year; just a short 18.5ish-mile ride on the Mountain Goat Trail and to a little coffee shop on the campus. For this year’s adventure(s), I started with a 125-mile motorbike ride (Movescount data), basically all over the mountain top and points beyond, including a return to the TGA; my first visit there since spring of 2017, which was in the boat. Just kinda wanted to get familiar with the area, for the adventures to come. It’s handy to know where hospitals and pie can be found, just in case. Since that ride, Mother Nature came on full force, and I haven’t been back on the bike. Maybe this week I can get out – it’ll be cold, but I’ve got the gear (including awesome new motorbike boots (of course)).


Then, hiking. About 75 miles worth, encompassing long trails, caves, waterfalls, topless coeds (noice), pie, injuries, and lots of adventure all over the 13000-acre Domain. More than I care to recap here – let’s just say that I learned a lot. I learned how to do some basic caving (and that my pack was woefully unprepared for such undertakings), I learned to never underestimate a trail, I learned that there’s potential danger around every bend – it goes on. But I’m still on two feet (mostly), and there’s still a little more to explore. You really think I can resist a cave called the “Horror Hole”? Yeah, not likely. There’s only one significant trail remaining that I want to explore, and it looks like it’ll be a tough one – I don’t think they’d call it “Point Disappointment” if it was going to be a walk in the park. We’ll see.

click for larger

There was also a significant adventure nearby, but away from the Domain, at Lost Cove Cave, AKA Buggytop Cave. A huge, spectacular, dangerous cave that was well worth the difficulty getting to it in the first place. After visiting it, I discovered you can actually travel through the cave and come out on top of the bluff that towers above; the cave is closed until May 1 (because bats), but as soon as it’s open, I’ll be back there connecting those dangerous dots. That gives me time to acquire some better gear – I discovered that the 2 flashlights I carry are nowhere near bright enough for a cave of this size.

just inside Buggytop Cave - click for larger

just inside Buggytop Cave – click for larger

Closer to home, there was Glen Falls, on the side of Lookout Mountain very near my old stomping grounds. Only I can turn an easy 1/2 mile trail into a 5-mile challenging hike up and down the side of a mountain.

I also discovered I’ve forgotten how to make my Suunto talk to my phone. Gotta figure it out before the next hike. The watch has all sorts of geotagging/photo stuff I’m not taking advantage of, so I really should re-learn all of that, considering how much I spent on the thing. And speaking of photos, there are lots, all linked below. Check ’em out. And if the Google brought you here and you have questions about the trails at Sewanee, just ask – I’ve compiled lots of maps and even more experience up there. Not sure what’ll be next, but I have a few things in mind.

Oh, crossed over 35000 miles on my Fitbit, the AppleWatch streak continues, blah, blah. Stuff you don’t care about. And, of course, the Master Activity Map has been dramatically updated to reflect the adventures.

Links:
Sewanee Perimeter Trail Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Solomon’s Temple, Natural Bridge & Buggytop Cave Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Beckwith’s Trail, Piney Point Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Bridal Veil Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Armfield Bluff, Lake Dimmick Photo Album on Facebook
Sewanee Motorbike Ride 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