published Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Riding the glass


by Cliff Hightower

The trail felt as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Barry Smith, who helped design the bike trails at the new Enterprise South Nature Park, describes it “as smooth as glass.” He is right.

Last Saturday, Jeffrey Schaarschmidt, president of the Chattanooga chapter of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association, and I wanted to see if Smith was right. I took along my Nishiki Pinnacle mountain bike and Schaarschmidt brought his Trek.

As someone who just got into mountain biking, I wanted to try the 4.5-mile section of trail myself.

We started in a counterclockwise direction. The first mile is a gradual climb with several obstacles — hills or berms rising up about two feet off the ground, spread about 10 feet apart like a BMX dirt track.

For those not used to the constant up and down, it can beat you up pretty good, especially heading uphill. A rider for three months, I got the living shindlesticks beat out of me.

Schaarschmidt took me aside, and put me through some pump drills. Hit the hill, go down standing and kick down. You shoot up and down and, if you are off the saddle, your legs take all the shock.

It made all the difference in the world.

Back on the trail, the top of the hill comes a mile in, and switchbacks help make the climb.

The rest of the three miles is a combination of climbs and dives down into some hollows. There aren’t a gluttonous amount of switchbacks. A mixture of dirt and loose gravel makes up a majority of the surface. The gravel — which gets loose on some parts of the trail — can make tires slip, which made me cautious.

Schaarschmidt said the trail would get more compact as bikers and hikers either stamp down the gravel or kick it off completely.

But Smith was right. It rode like glass. It is the smoothest trail I’ve ridden in this area.

I’ve already got Oct. 11 penciled in for a bike ride.

This time I’m going clockwise.

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Blazing trails

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