Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Sung to the tune of "Dream" by the Everly Brothers

I know that there’s no chance that I’ll get to do a Thanksgiving ride tomorrow. Mrs. Guy and I are driving the 120 or so miles to the town we both grew up in. We’ll leave in the morning and go see her grandparents first, and then head to my parent’s house for lunch (and She-Mom will be coming over there as well). But instead of staying overnight, we’ll be driving back home sometime tomorrow evening. So no ride on the old routes tomorrow – no reason to even think about taking a bike.

But as it worked out I only had to work four hours today (I worked ten each on Monday and yesterday), so I went in a little earlier than normal at six and left at ten. After running some errands, I loaded up the bike and headed toward the Bike Zoo.

Knoxville has never really been known as a very cycling-friendly town, but there are several people working to turn that around. One of the notable improvements in the last several years has been the extension of the existing greenway trails (there weren’t many) into something that may one day stretch all the way across Knox County. While there’s still a long way to go, there has been some good progress.

I’d hoped to ride with John B. this afternoon, but he’s feeling a good bit under the weather, so I went on my own (I did also try to reach John H., but without success). One of the major stretches of greenway trail is only about ¼ mile from the Bike Zoo, so I just parked there. The closest point on the trail is at the old Bi-Lo supermarket (now out of business), and there’s a new section that goes east about a mile to an elementary school, so I decided to go ahead and try that first.

Interesting sighting #1 – There’s a sale on plots at the cemetery along that road (about mile 1). I guess it strikes me as odd to see a sale at a cemetery. Are they expecting a rush of business? Is there something they know that I don’t?

Interesting sighting #2 – A kid (maybe 6 or 7 years old) saw me coming and pulled his cell phone-bound oblivious dad out of the middle of the path (somewhere in the second mile). That sort of thing usually happens the other way around.

I hit the end and turned back toward the Ex-Bi-Lo. On the way I about got run over twice by the same Volvo. Luckily I saw her first and had a feeling her driving wasn’t to be trusted by bicycle riders, so I adjusted accordingly. At the Ex-Bi-Lo I got onto a section of trail that’s been around for a while. It runs from a set of the University’s graduate student housing apartments(where Mrs. Guy lived while she was in Vet School) about three miles to the back parking lot of the Vet School (Mrs. Guy never used the trail herself, but I did quite a bit back then).

Interesting sighting #3 – Squirrel fight at about mile 4.

Interesting sighting #4 – The young lady jogging in bike-type shorts with the hole in the back of them that she probably didn’t know about. ‘Nuff said. Mile 6 or so.

The greenway goes on eastward along the Tennessee River past the cement plant and the sewage treatment plant, but then the scenery improves as it goes through Volunteer Landing which has been built up in the past five to ten years to be a rather pleasant place, especially in the summer when the fountains are going and the kids of all ages are playing in them.

Interesting sighting #5 – I noticed a new set of condominiums on the other side of the river at about mile 7. They look pretty nice, I guess. Too bad they are located directly across from the sewage treatment plant. I guess they aren’t using the view as a selling point…or the smell, for that matter.

Once past the Landing you can ride to the end of the greenway in a less than scenic area, or you can turn near the brick manufacturer (part of that “scenic” thing) and get up on the bridge that crosses the river. This is not greenway by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets you over near another greenway trail that John B. and I had been on part of last Friday. Today I decided to follow that trail all the way to the end.

Interesting sighting #6 – The lady walking on the greenway carrying her dog (mile 13-ish). I think she doesn’t understand the concept of “taking the dog for a walk”. We’re talking about a 20 to 25 pound dog here; not one of those toy breeds.

The trail goes past “the castle” and then through part of the Ijams Nature Center. [There’s disagreement on how to pronounce “Ijams”. Some pronounce the ‘j’, and some leave it silent. I’m one of the second set.] Once on the other side, the trail goes past an asphalt plant (the second place of questionable smell, though not as pungent as the first) and into the “Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area”. I didn’t see any wildlife. I did see a bunch of dirt clods all over the trail from somebody’s tractor. I guess the tractor chased the animals away?

It was while I was riding through this area that I started thinking that I might want to turn back soon. I had committed myself to riding the entire trail, but was starting to wonder if I really wanted to push it. Just when I decided to ride about another ½ mile before turning back, the trail abruptly ended at a park bench. This was…

Interesting sighting #7 – The park bench faces out to look over the place where the French Broad and Holston Rivers come together to form the Tennessee River (hence the name “Forks of the River”. It was really a beautiful area. I hope to be able to spend a little more time there next time I go out.

I returned all the way to the Ex-Bi-Lo pretty much the same way I had ridden out. I did make one or two small route changes between the two greenway sections, but nothing of significance. I was glad I was getting back when I did, though, because the temperature started dropping steadily from about mile 19 onward to the end at mile (just under) 28.

Interesting sighting #8 – A jogger tripped and nearly fell off of the landing and into the water at mile 22, but she was pulled back by a lady with really fast reflexes. I saw it happen from about 50 yards away. The jogger was shaking like a Chihuahua going through Detox when I rode past. “Good catch”, I said to her savior on the way by.

Interesting sighting #9 – A squirrel ran between my wheels at about mile 26. I was expecting to feel the ‘thump’ when he darted through, but he made it without incident. It about freaked me out, though.

Will I post something tomorrow? I hope to, but we’ll have to see how the day goes. I do want to at least get trivia out. No promises.

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