Nearly all of us go on road trips to visit our extended family around the country, and we all find different ways to pass the time during the drive. Whenever i make the drive south to rural Georgia to visit my In-laws i take a bike or two, because the riding in the south in December is pretty nice when you are used to Chicago winters. This year a combination of my steering wheel contemplation, bicycle resources, and my bucket list line item to ride in all 50 states combined forces to make me see what epic riding destinations were just off the interstate to break up the twelve hour drive, and tick a few new states off my list.
My plan was to leave La Grange Ga in the morning, ride Raccoon Mountain in Chattanooga, then drive to Land Between the Lakes in KY and sleep in my car before waking and riding, and rounding out the driving miles. These spots were chosen because they were both very close to the interstate i would be driving on, and for being fantastic riding.
I was about to discover some true Interstate Oases.
So Raccoon Mountain is easy to find. I didn’t know how to get there except that i knew it was on the west side of town, so i took the most intuitive exit and drove in the direction of up. Success. There was enough elevation from bottom to top that the drizzle turned into a gentle falling snow once i got all the way up, it was peaceful and serene, and i seemingly had the entire mountain to myself.
I really love using the mukluk as my do everything exploring bicycle, it will handle any situation.
The few days prior that i was in Georgia i was riding it around town exploring little pockets of woods, abandoned housing developments and doing hill repeats. It’s my one bike i can pull out in any situation and have fun anywhere.
I rode for a few hours, and when it was getting dark i started wondering about the presence of bears and being alone on a strange mountain hundreds of miles from anyone i knew without a cell phone. I started heading back to the motor vehicle, got changed in the parking lot, and hit the road for a few hours before hitting my next destination.
Upon arrival i noticed a trend that this park was also seemingly deserted, it seems the south shuts down with any below freezing weather at all.
I found a spot in the woods, read a book, ate some food, and pretended to sleep in the drivers seat of my car.
There are a few places to ride bicycles here at LBTL. At the northern end there is a trail system called the Canal Loop, that has about 14.2 miles of looped trails, and connected to them is a 31 mile out and back trail with the very appropriately titled North South Trail. They tell it like it is in the South.
I geared up and rode my bicycle. I intended to ride just the canal trails, but in my excitement i ended up riding a distance out on the North South trail before retracing my tracks and proceeding with a loop. All trails were quite nice, and i could even cut down and cruise along the lake front if it was me desire. This was a fat bicycle dream.
I need to find more Interstate Oases, this mission was a huge success. I have explored and learned about new areas, which is my overall Raison d’être on a bike, crossed off two more states on my bucketlist, and broken up my long drive home.
Win. Win. Win.