10.22.2007,9:06 PM
Zen Trail

This entire trip to Tennessee has been so wonderful. In so many ways. The roads -paved, dirt, gravel, grass,whatever- the landscapes, the weather, the bikes, the people.... all of it. But the experiences that keep surfacing over and over, again and again, are the single-track trail and the next forest road, the last two 'roads'. The trail doesn't really qualify as a 'road'; it is a 'trail'. Nevertheless, it is a surface to ride on. And in so many ways, this was the sweetest. It was my Zen Road.

Let the story continue........

At the junction of CR198 (Buck Bald Rd) and CR311 we stopped again on the gravel to check the map. This time we were searching for a single-track trail, #82. Looking around I noticed a trail parallel to CR198 going through the woods that resembled those I used to wander on in Maine: a four-foot wide seam cutting through the dense forest. Brown fallen leaves covered most of the ground with gray dirt floor showing through and roots cropping up here and there. A path often created by deer or other critters.


At the head next to the road was a marker sporting "82". But it was in the wrong direction. We were heading south. I looked behind me to see a similar trail with no marker. So where do we go?

Scrutinizing the map again we saw Trail 11371 began at the south edge of FS198. Further down this trail was a 'Y' where 11371 veered right and 82 began again. So all we had to do was watch for that 'Y' and hopefully a sign.

We left gravel and rode into the trees on the quiet single-track trail. It was awesome. Big roots or branches ahead, pick line, stand on pegs and lead the front wheel, let it do its thing, sit back down and grin. A few times I wondered if the handlebar with mirrors would fit between two trees. After I barely made it through a pair of trees straddling the trail I pulled my mirrors in towards the middle. Much better.

I had turned the helmet cam on before we embarked on the trail and I was hoping it would catch the essence the trail opened up to me. I tried to avoid turning my head to the right, but I had to keep an eye out for the trail as it veered to the right.

Ed was up ahead for quite a distance but I didn't feel rushed to catch up. I was enjoying this too much. The sewing-machine sound of my Sherpa on the trail was muffled and it assumed a musical accompaniment of sorts. Just like my Whee sings on the highway, this engine was singing on the trail.

I caught in my peripheral vision what appeared a narrow trail veering off to the right and into the woods. That was truly a critter trail. It was so narrow I wondered if my bike would make it through without interference from brush and trees. And I immediately questioned in my mind if that was 11371. I rolled the throttle open to catch up with Ed and yelled out. He didn't hear me so I used the next attention-getter: the horn.

Ed stopped up ahead and I rode up to him with that familiar question: "Where are we?". I wanted to confirm that we were indeed on trail 82. We had ridden far more than my calculation expected us to meet the 'Y' shown on the map. Consulting the map again, I mentioned the narrow trail I observed to the right and we both agreed that was probably 11371 continuing on. It was a foot trail only, which may be why it was so narrow, but there were no signs that anyone has walked on it at least this season.

As we continued on I was occasionally slapped in the face with low-hung branches. I'm glad I wore the goggles and by then I was well used to them. As I came around a corner I spied a large tree that had fallen across the trail. The bottom of it was still hung up on one side, the other side touching the ground. I stopped to evaluate this after an "Oh shit!" exclamation and I caught Ed finish wheeling his bike under the gap between the tree and the ground next to the bank. The bikes had to be leaned over far enough to get under. Leaned far.

Well, this would be a challenge and fun. Approaching the far side next to the bank I leaned the bike to the right and balanced myself with my feet. While tilting the bike to the right I also leaned over and carefully feathered the throttle. I had to duck my head to make it under, but the bike and I inched forward without any problem and a big smile was plastered on my face on the other side. We made it!!! Woohoo!! (on the video everything ahead tilts as I am going underneath the tree with the bike)


I rode ahead a bit more briskly and with a grin and puffed chest. Another hurdle crossed! On we rode until we came to a grassy section down the hill. Beyond and through the trees I could see pavement: Highway 68.


We pulled up to the pavement slowly and cautiously exited the trail onto the pavement; we were on the apex of a curve and oncoming traffic was blind from both directions. Quick looks to the left, right, gun it.

I hated to leave that trail; I loved riding on it.

Next: My Sweet Road

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posted by Macrobe
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