When I was in Knoxville a few weeks back, I was able to sneak in some mountain biking with much of Team Ed. Plans were afoot for multiple evening rides, but we were thwarted by an inch of rain a day. Cleverly, we took advantage of G's thursday off and a hole in the interesting talks at the conference to set forth to the TN-KY border where lies the well drained trails of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. We set off early in Gary's mini Race Squirrel and headed up to the Norris exit to rendezvous with Hammer and KD.
We met up at the Starbucks at the Norris exit of 75 north. The fact that Norris rates a starbucks cracks me up no end. Poor poor waffle house, usurped as the default meeting point. After coffee and oatmeal and nary a grit nor biscuit, we headed into the wild jungles of northern Tennessee. Along the way I enjoyed the cultural dichotomy of the big cross over Adult World:
Eventually we rolled into big south fork, unleashed the bikes and changed into our matching outfits:
After a few miles of gravel road riding we reached the trailhead:
And enjoyed 20 miles of swoopy fast, mostly smooth singletrack.
With gorgeous views:
And tiny little bicycle men:
And valuable trailside artifacts:
Despite the torrential rains the trails were clear and fun. I borrowed a well undergeared singlespeed cannondale from an honorable judge and spent most of the day fruitlessly trying to keep up with the other three on their properly geared single speed 29'ers. After a while I pushed the hammer down and stole his bike and was relieved to be able to at least hang onto G and KD. While my single track skills have eroded somewhat, they are not as bad as it appeared.
After the ride we headed back, firstly negotiating the drive through big south fork canyon:
and then enjoying more cultural oddities along the way:
Once back in town, I went back to the Tomato Head and ate my third (of four) Kepner Melt of the week.
As I was heading back to the hotel Clarko called and coerced me into attending Cycling Specific Pilates taught by the Geri Mewetmaster5000. Alas there are no photos of this event, but it was painful yet fun and I was able to see more people.
The day was capped by a visit to the bar in the sunsphere. The sunsphere was closed to the public for my entire tenure in knoxville, but now there is a bar up there and I was compelled to visit. G, KD, hammer and myself all met up there and were surprised to find the bar nearly empty. No matter, the beer was cheap and the views were great and the decor was barely updated eighties woodgrain lounge and the bathrooms sported black toilets. The champagne of beers was served in champagne glasses:
After a short while a horde of identically dressed young women from UT and their prospective paramours ascended upon the sunphere for fancy attire drunken revelry. I do not really miss this part of knoxville at all. Fortunately when you are not living there anymore, it is funny.
And with that, the long day came to a close. It was good to get back to Knoxville, I was able to see almost everyone through planned events and random occurrences. I want to thank Gary for making the mountain biking possible. It was great to see everyone.
The official Team Ed take on the day's activity.
Rest of the photos here