Friday, March 11, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Knox Vegas Whirl-a-gig Edition

I was going to call this post “Flat Karma,” but I didn’t get it out yesterday and so it became a Ramming Speed Friday contender.  So I decided to post up a quick report on the rest of my extra-conference shenanigans with the intent to chronicle the confo part next Monday (unless something freakin’ awesome happens this weekend that bumps it).  Without further ado.
On Monday I rode the Knoxville Urban Wilderness loop which I have expounded upon elsewhere.  That was fun, and I wish I’d had the time to go back and do it all again.  But Knoxavul is pretty close in the whole global scheme of things.  There’s plenty there to draw me/us back.
Knoxvale is the town where I proposed to Mrs. Chainring.  We were there as guests of my parents at a convention.  One evening we went for a chilly walk around the CBD and ended up overlooking the river.  We had been talking about getting married but that was the moment when we made it…well, in modern parlance we’d call it “Facebook official.”  But that was 1999 and Facebook was still just a twinkle in the Winklevi’s eye.
Remind me some time to tell you the Infamous Raffle Ring story.  It’s a hum-dinger!
Anyway, I rode to Urban Outfitters on Monday.  At lunch on Tuesday I ran up to Sharp’s Ridge.  It was an easy ten minute drive north of downtown.  Monday after composing my previous post I did go to down to the garage and add some Stan’s to my rear tire.  That seemed to stop the air leak.  So I pumped it to the appropriate PSI and stowed everything back in the MBDV.  Tuesday morning before heading to the conference I checked and the tire was still holding full pressure.
Without putting too much thought into the matter when I arrived at the Sharp’s Ridge trailhead I simply pointed the front wheel of the One toward the trail and took off.  I made it half a mile down the trail.  Down.  The Trail.
The rear end went soft as I carved into some of the nice flowy curves of Sharp Shin.  It didn’t take long before I was confronted with the reality of fixing another flat.  I had the tools.  Or so I thought.
I had forgotten to grab the frame pump from the car.  But I set about putting a tube in the offending ring of rubber.  Then I put cartridge to valve stem.  I blew out the rubber gasket on the cartridge side.  I had forgotten to unscrew the valve stem needle. 
Listen, Linda, in my defense it has been a while since I’ve changed a flat.  I’m no gumby, but I just wasn’t thinking.  In the end I had to hike the half mile back to the car and use the floor pump to jack it back into service.  But in short order I was headed off at a determined pace back to Sharp Shin.
I had no more flatness on the trip, but I’ve not given the bike the going over it deserves after that showing.  It’s still sporting that tube.  I may need to put a new tire on it and replenish the Stan’s.  Oh well.
Looking down on Sharp Shin on the hike out
Sharp’s Ridge was great.  Sharp Shin was obviously a recent machine built flow trail.  And it flowed!  I had to keep checking my speed for fear of busting a curve.  I reached the west end only to find even newer trail that wasn’t reflected on MTB Project.  Because I wanted to get back to the hotel for the next session I opted to stick to the trail I “knew” versus the allure of the unknown.
I turned back toward the parking area on Lincoln Trail.  Right off the bat it was tighter and techier.  Oddly, it still seemed to have some machine built qualities, but it was definitely an intermediate trail compared to Sharp Shin’s easy designation.  And Lincoln rocked!  It challenged me a bit more than anything on the Urban Wilderness loop.  It might have been that I was sucked in to a high speed traverse of the trail and was riding high on having conquered my flat demon.
Lincoln Trail
Once back at the car I saw I still had some time so I toed up to Firebreak.  The description of Firebreak was that there were a lot of ups and downs.  The trail had originally been built as a…well, firebreak with a dozer.  Despite that Firebreak is actually a pretty fun trail.  It had some challenging short, severe climbs. I managed to ride it clean except one such wall that I couldn’t carry momentum over.  It was a fun ride though.
Firebreak deposits you above the jumpline of Knight Fall.  I’m no downhiller, and I’m too old to start as a soloist.  So I opted to connect back via Lincoln to return to Sharp Shin for my return to the car in the opposite direction I rode out.  Sharp Shin had felt backwards to me as I initial rode it.  And I was right: west to east was better than east to west. 
I was done with Knoxville trails for the trip, but I had a full day of conferencing ahead of me.  And it was a great conference.
On the way home I had to make the I-75 detour with all of the other Canadians and Buckeyes.  I took the opportunity for a quick skim around the Grand Gap Loop at Big South Fork (Bandy Creek area).  Grand Gap is 6.8 miles (my GPS showed a little less) and it is a stellar ride!
That little blue arrow is important.  See it?
On one level it was heartbreaking.  Grand Gap is the kind of trail my home stomping ground of the Red River Gorge could have.  It shows the potential that kind of landform and soil types bears.  And there was really little difference.  It was similar topography, flora and fauna, and it was just the kind of experience I’m working toward with my mountain biking efforts at home.
Angel Falls overlook, a short side hike

Ah, reminds me of home!
I can’t wait to go back and ride around Collier Ridge and some more of the John Muir Trail.  I wasn’t even bummed that the Sheltowee Trace was seemingly hiking only through the Bandy Creek area.  There are plenty of mountain biking alternatives.
Looking down on a shaved shin
I’m back home.  For now.  I’ve got another big conference coming up soon (which I’m not looking forward to) and then another in state conference a couple of months out.  After that I’m hoping to stay at home for a while.  I’m about conferenced out!
Stay tuned next week for that write up of the Professional Trail Builders Association Sustainable Trails Conference.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect you got Sharp Shin and Lincoln confused. The former is the harder (blue/black) trail - the latter is the easy (green) trail.

    Lincoln is the lowest on the ridge, Shin is in the middle - and Firebrake is the highest along the ridge.