SORBA Chattanooga will host the area's first 50-mile cycling event Saturday as part of the weeklong RiverRocks adventure sports festival. The event is open to all riders and prizes will be awarded to winners in five classifications. Registration will be open until the morning of the event. For registration info and information on the event, visit www.5points50.com.
The area's newest single-track trail system will open in style this weekend with a new mountain bike event and the opening of the trail to hikers and cyclists who want to explore more of the growing trail system atop Lookout Mountain.
The Lula Lake Land Trust has been working for a year to develop the third phase of trail connecting Cloudland Canyon State Park with the 5-Points trail system and the Lula Lake Land Trust. The 14-mile section is nearing completion, and a five-mile section will be officially opened to the public Sunday.
New trails can sometimes be unstable, but Make Pollock of the Lula Lake Land Trust said that by using specially designed excavators and grading equipment they have been able to put in a trail that will be ready for prime time almost immediately.
"Using that mechanization approach, we were able to put down a lot of trail really quickly," he said. "We were able to put down so much trail so fast that this section of trail that we are opening Sunday has been sitting silent and dormant for much of this year with the exception of a little bit of pruning and root cutting. So it's been able to get wet and dry out to get packed in."
While the entire 14 miles of phase three have been constructed, the next challenge will be linking the system with a bridge across Bear Creek. A 60-foot bridge has been ordered from a company in Pennsylvania with funding assistance from the Lyndhurst and Riverview foundations. Installation of the bridge bridge -- that will accommodate hikers, mountain biking and horse traffic -- will begin in the next few weeks.
Michael Long with the local chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association has gotten a sneak peak at the new section of trail, which will be used in Saturday's 5 Points 50 event, this area's first 50-mile mountain biking challenge.
"I was amazed, because I had never been out there," Long said. "I knew it used to be an old mine, so I thought it would be really kind of backwoods. But it's really a great single-track trail.
"It's adding six miles to the course, which is fantastic, and it's really some sweet trails. Everyone that I've taken out there for test rides -- which is just a few -- have been really psyched about it because of how well it's built and how well it rode. When it's completely finished, I think it's going to be some of the best single track out there."
Long and other SORBA-Chattanooga members have been hard at work getting the 5 Points 50 launched, a challenge for the inaugural run of an event of this size.
"The biggest struggle so far is getting word out about the event," he said. "We've been promoting the race at other events and handing out flyers.
"This is the first time that SORBA-Chattanooga has taken on an event of this scale. It's a 50-mile mountain biking event. With the amount of volunteers needed and the logistics involved in putting it all together -- it's been a bear."
Long said there were 107 riders registered as of Wednesday evening, but that he hopes to have 150 or more participating by the start at 8 a.m. Saturday. Online registration will be available until 7 p.m. Friday, and in-person registration will be available at packet pick-up Friday night at the Crash Pad in Chattanooga and on race day.
On Sunday, following the 5 Points 50, the new section of trail will open to the public with access available via the Ascalon Road parking area on Lookout Mountain off Scenic Highway.
Pollock said the trail will be marked for those who want to go explore the latest in a growing network of trails on Lookout Mountain and throughout the Chattanooga area.
"It's a pretty self-explanatory loop for the intermediate level rider. I wouldn't send a beginner in there because it's a lot of climbing and there's a technical section of rock garden that a good percentage of people will walk through, especially on their first pass."
Contact Jim Tanner at email@example.com or 423-755-6478.