After a long work week topped off with a busy Saturday at MOAB, there’s only one thing to do: load up your bike with camping gear and food and and ride into the darkness towards 20% grade gravel climbs, gnarly, rutted-out doubletrack littered with loose, chunky rocks, and last but not least, a beautiful campsite on top of an exposed ridge that provides a premium view of the beautiful terrain that Middle Tennessee has to offer.
However, the premium view comes at a premium, leg searing, lung bursting cost. Rolling out from the shop in high spirits lugging 50lb bikes loaded down with racks, panniers, and bags containing our provisions for the weekend, we embarked on the deceptively smooth and flat first leg of our journey. As we pedaled towards our destination, the daunting task of taming the gravel monster, known as Jimtown, loomed high above us, but we were determined to have a good time in spite of the self-inflicted suffering that was about to occur.
As we joked and laughed, the roads got narrower and steeper, the pavement became rough and uneven, and eventually disappeared, giving way to dirt and gravel. Approaching our first challenge, our group fell silent, and all that could be heard was heaving breathing and the sound of tires struggling to gain traction on the loose gravel. Cresting the top of the hill, we regrouped high-fived, caught our breath, and turned off the narrow gravel road onto the narrower rocky dirt trail. Steep, loose, off camber descents and punchy, rock covered climbs kept us on our toes until we arrived at our hilltop campsite. Before long, we had camp set up, firewood gathered, and a roaring campfire to keep us warm. As we made dinner by the fire, we reveled in the natural beauty surrounding us, and in our successful journey to the campsite despite the prohibitive terrain.
After a night of fun with friends around the fire, we retired to our tents and fell asleep under a clear sky with a full moon. We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, packed up our bikes, and started back down the trail, bombed the gravel road, and leisurely rode twenty miles back into town. Trips like these remind us why we ride: we love adventure and we love good times with good people. Whether you’re crushing it on group rides, sending it on the mountain bike trails, or cruising the greenway, make sure you have fun doing it.
Shoutout to our friend Mike Bowen for the excellent photographs.