published Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Two-wheel paths

Area trails included in East Tennessee book


by Amy Williams
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    Contributed Photo Knoxville resident Elle Colquitt is the co-author of the new book "Off Road Trails," which includes a number of mountain biking trails in the Chattanooga area.
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Ellie Colquitt

Knoxville residents and adventure writers Elle Colquitt and Jon Livengood have just self-published a book on mountain biking trails in East Tennessee. "Off Road Trails" includes a number of area trails and a total of 31 trail systems. The book has fold-out topographical maps and the most current GPS markings. It features lots of photos, taken by Colquitt, and is spiral bound to make it easier for copying or laying flat.

Chattanooga mountain biking enthusiasts, as well as hikers and trail runners, should love the book, Colquitt said.

"It's just good to know where you are when you are out in the woods," she said.

Here is more of what she had to say.

Q. Who is this book meant for?

A. "The book is designed for the mountain biker. All the questions a mountain biker would ask before he goes to a trail system, such as 'What's the terrain like?' 'What abilities do I need -- aerobic skills or do I need technical skills?' 'Is it real rocky?' 'Rooty?' Those types of questions. We've tried to answer all of those, as well as give detailed trail descriptions for any kind of information a mountain biker might need."

Q. What type of information is given about the trails?

A. "Aerobic -- are they strenuous climbs or is it short, steep? What type of terrain is it, for someone to know what type of gear and bike they need. Jon rode everything with a single speed, and that's great if you've got that kind of endurance. We also did a technical difficulty. That might let you know if it is a tight single track, does it go a little bit wider, is it curvy going in and out of trees, does it have a lot of rocky areas, what exactly is the terrain like? It might be the typical forest; it might be kind of rooty. We also did trail systems. We took the whole system and we did every trail in Raccoon Mountain system, and it's included in the book."

Q. What are some of the best trails in the Chattanooga area for mountain biking?

A. "Everyone comes down to Chattanooga to do Raccoon Mountain. It's just really a premier trail system. It has a little bit of everything for everybody. It's got the advanced section; they've got beginner sections; it's well laid out. It is a beautiful trail system, it's got good views and it is easy to get to. With that spoken, Harrison Bay is very good for the beginner. It's very small -- it's only 4.2 miles -- but it's a very good beginner trail."

Q. What is your experience on the trails in southeast Tennessee?

A. "I come from a road riding background. I've done mostly a lot of road riding, touring, that kind of thing, so mountain biking for me was new. Jon Livengood, my co-author, he is a semi-pro racer on mountain bikes and road bikes. He taught me along the way. He road every single trail and every spur, and then I followed behind taking pictures, making notes but also learnin,g and after a while I picked up the skills I needed to ride it fairly well. So with his experience, and me as a beginner, we could kind of look at it from both perspectives."

Q. Where can people find the book locally?

A. "The book is at all the local bike shops. It is at a couple of the book stores, Rock Point Books and New Moon Gallery. It's at Rock/Creek, Greenlife Grocery and Outdoor Chattanooga."

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