Every fall for the past 10 years, we have traveled to Clemson, South Carolina for fall break. Football game on Saturday (sometimes), long ride for me on either Sunday or Monday (or both), and drive back home on Tuesday usually after visiting local apple orchards in the mountains. My bike rides over fall break have all been epics with a mix of sentimental old routes from college with a few new roads and climbs thrown in each year. This year we had so much going on here in Alabama that we weren’t able to make it up to South Carolina, so I planned out an epic with the idea of exploring someplace new to me … and I found it – Cherokee Rock Village on Shinbone Ridge on Lookout Mountain.
Cherokee Rock Village bouldering near the Weiss Lake drop-off.
I set off on a 250+ mile adventure riding from my house northeast past Gadsden to Weiss Lake at the foot of what I would hope would be a new Cat 2 climb from lake level up to the top of Cherokee Rock Village. Even though the climb meets the minimum requirements for a Strava Cat 2 climb of more than 320 meters vertical difference from bottom to top, at only 2.98% average gradient it just barely misses the 3% cut-off.
The thing you have to understand about these kinds of adventures is how ridiculously fun they are. Part of the reason I blog about them and take so many pictures is to try to share that intangible sense of adventure with other people and encourage them to get out there and try something new. Shortly after sunrise in Randolph County having already ridden 120 miles from my house, I had one of those moments where I was just grinning from ear to ear when I saw my turn onto a dirt road into the middle of the woods as the epic scale went off the charts with still more than half the ride left to go.
My fascination with the walking dead started this year during the kids’ spring break. Kristine had taken them up to Indiana to visit family because their spring break was not the same week as mine at Samford. I stayed home and saw a link to watch The Walking Dead on Netflix. I was hooked after the first episode and ended up watching the entire series while they were gone that week. On Tuesday after just starting Season 3, I decided to do a long training ride east of Cheaha to the Georgia border since I knew that the Walking Dead was supposed to be in Georgia.
During the ride I noticed how the landscape, terrain, and woods resembled that of the TV series. When I got home, I discovered that I was within about 50 miles of where the series was being filmed. I resolved to go back some time and explore the area more. My wife was dropping a friend visiting us off at the Atlanta airport Saturday afternoon, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to ride farther into Georgia without having to ride all the way back home to Birmingham. The tricky part was leaving early enough to make it to Atlanta to meet her at a reasonable time without leaving too early and getting caught in traffic of people coming home from a late night out (dangerous).