Wha…wha..what?

AMBCThe New Belgium Clips Beer & Film Tour is in its 4th fabulous year. In summary, it is a beer-toting, film-traveling, nonprofit-benefiting show that travels to 21 cities coast-to-coast. Taking their love for beer and fans New Belgium put them together in this one-of-a-kind event. This is the second year that the fest has made a stop at the World’s Fair Park in Knoxville and the magic number seemed to be 18…18 beer varieties on tap and 18 inspiring short films created by fans. It was also the second year the Bikes N Beers crew was asked to produce the Knoxville film for our home city.

The best part is that 100% of the proceeds from beer sales benefited the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC) our local non-profit bike club that works so diligently to improve our community by making many Knoxville area natural places accessible and trail worthy.

jeremy

Jammin’ Jeremy

This year’s video is titled “Bike Shop” and is a parody of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”. The video stars some of our local AMBC folks, including Brian Hann, the AMBC president and all around great guy. Please enjoy our offering…we are very proud of it and it definitely couldn’t have happened without AMBC, the musical styling of Jeremy Walker, and Notorious’ pre-planning and witty lyric writing…

Enterprise South Nature Park Mountain Bike Trail Review

Let me start off by saying that this is a set of trails that I will take my young ones to ride.  That is not at all to say that the trails were boring, but they are not especially technical.  In fact the lack of rock gardens, mud holes, and root balls made it extremely fun to bomb along at a fairly fast pace.  These trails are also sculpted to give you the benefit of a little air every time off the many table tops built on the trail, provided you pick-up some speed on the downhills.  Kudos to the trail builders for that.

The park consists of 3 main loops; Log Rhythm, TNT, and Black Forest.  Embedded in those trails are also a few Easter Eggs for those more experienced riders; some interesting log features, a skills area, and even a small pump track.  The trails are mountain bike specific, with hikers having their owns sets of trails in the park and horses relegated to somewhere else that I don’t care about.

The total mileage is about 11 miles for all three loops, but you may find yourself riding areas like the skills park a few extra times to show off.  TNT and Black Forest require you to ride them in specific directions depending on the day of the week.  After riding the trails twice, I would recommend riding them counter clockwise (Saturdays) if you want to hit the longer downhills.

Rain is not an issue here.  These trails drain very well and are good to go right after a rainstorm.  On our second trip, after 3 straight days of rain, we only experienced one muddy section about 50ft. in length.

Skills Park

I got to say something about the skills area, since it will be featured at some point in our Crash of the Week.  The skills area consist of a long wood bridge section that winds over stumps and between trees for about 100 yards and a log feature that transitions onto a second higher log feature consisting of another 100ft.  Both keep you about 3 feet off of the ground, but you get as high as 6’ on the bridge.  There is a definite preferred direction to bridge that you will quickly figure out as you try to maneuver through the first set of trees.  And if anyone can ride the whole log feature, let me know, I owe you a beer if you survive (two if you wreck horribly and send us the video). 

I highly recommend this park since it is only 1 hour from Knoxville and can be ridden right after the rain.  It is fast and very fun and I am sure you will see BikesnBeers there again in the future.

Ticks Suck…literally!

Lone Star Tick

Lone Star Tick

As we mountain bikers know, one of the hazards of riding is being attacked by the occasional tick.  I have flicked as many as 11 of the creatures off me after a ride.  Ticks in and of themselves present no real hazard.  After all the amount of blood that they suck is almost nothing, far less than my blood sucking Ex-wife (they have much nicer personalities too).   But like a bad date they can leave you with some diseases that you don’t want.  Before we talk about the diseases let’s talk about how they give them to you and what you need to do if you have a tick that has attached itself to you.

Ticks feed very slowly.  Most ticks are on you for about 24 hours before they begin to feed.  It takes them that much time to complete their attachment to you and get your juices flowing.  It is the juices flowing part that exposes you to disease.  The juices in a ticks gut are infested with disease-causing bacteria.  The best defense is to keep the tick from attaching at all.  The next best defense is remove any ticks that have attached within the first 24 hours. 

The best methods to keep ticks from attaching include:

  • Coating your clothing (do not let it contact your skin) with a permethrin containing product.    Permethrin kills ticks on contact.  You can purchase permethrin on Amazon.com (follow the provided directions of application).  One application will last through several washings.
  • DEET containing products can be used on skin (like OFF).  However these products just discourage ticks from attaching. They do not kill ticks.
  • Every time you stop during your ride perform a quick scan for ticks.  Wear lighter color clothes to help with this.  Shaving your body parts can also help with quickly seeing the offending insects.
  • Change you clothes after the ride and before you get in your car.  Bag your clothes and isolate them.  Ticks can live for weeks in your car our house without getting a blood meal.  A hot dryer will kill ticks.  You can also through a rag laced with permethrin into a plastic back containing your riding clothes. 
  • Protect our fury riding partner with products such as Frontline, Advantage, Advantrix or equivalent.  In addition you should check your dog as you do not want a female tick dropping off in your yard or home leaving thousands of larval ticks behind.

Blacklegged TickWhat should you do if you find a tick attached?  Whatever you do, skip the old remedies.  DO NOT: light a match and touch the tick; use your bare hands; cover the tick with finger nail polish, petroleum jelly or other lube, etc.  These will all increase your chance for disease transmission.  All of these things will cause the tick to puke (remember what is in the ticks guts).  Ticks should be removed using a fine tipped tweezers.  Firmly, yet gently grip the tick as close to the skin as you can.   You do not want to squeeze the ticks gut contents into your body.  Once you have them steadily pull away from you body in the direction the tick is attached.  Once removed, clean the area with an alcohol wipe, and place antibiotic ointment on the bite area. 

Ticks can deliver many diseases.  Most just express themselves with symptoms like a cold or a mild case of the flu.   However, some can be very dangerous.  The ones to worry about include:

  • Lyme Disease – most common in the Northeastern States and the upper Midwest.  If untreated lyme disease can cause a myriad of arthritic, neurologic and other systemic complaints.  These problems can be chronic.
  • Ehrlichiosis – most common throughout the entire world (note, no cases have been reported on Mars…yet).  This one can get you very sick.  Often hospital stays are required to include intensive care.  It has a 3% fatality rate. 
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever- nearly 90% of the cases come from the Rocky Mountains (go figure).  However cases have also been isolated to the Appalachians as well.  This disease can become fatal in days.  It carries a 5% fatality rate. 

If you live in the Southeastern United States there are 4 different ticks you may have the pleasure of sharing bodily juices with.  These include:

  • The American Dog Tick – one of the largest species of tick in North America it does not transmit Lyme disease but it does pass along Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 
  • The Blacklegged Tick – more commonly known as the “deer tick” can transmit Lyme disease. 
  • The Brown Dog Tick – found all over the world largely because it can complete its entire lifecycle indoors.  It carries Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  
  • The Lone Star Tick – is easily identifiable by the white spot on its back.  They carry Ehrlichiosis.

One last word, I am not a doctor only an avid biker.  Please do not blame me if you get ticks and remember, Ticks Suck.

Brown-Dog Tick

Brown-Dog Tick

The Stink Socks of Tsali

Bike Washing Station

One of the niceties about a ride at Tsali is that it is fairly well developed.  There are camp grounds just by the trailheads.  Other amenities include bathrooms and most important a bike washing station.  This becomes especially important when riding the Left Loop as there are many creek crossings.  You will get a little muddy.  The rinse station includes a hook that allows the mountain biker to hang the bike by a tire and a hose with a spray nozzle attached.  After a ride it is common to see people who have also finished lined up to spray the mud off of their bike as well as their bodies.  The lower legs do get fairly muddy.  As a consequence there are a few old dirty stinky socks laying about the bike washing station that have been discarded by the owners.

It is these socks that got my attention while I waited for my son to spray off his mountain bike.  He was doing a meticulous job and was giving the task at hand his full attention.  I couldn’t help but wonder what those socks must smell like given the time they spent in the humid environment, continually moistened by the spray station, with someone’s fermenting foot sweat getting funkier as time passed.  I decided to flop one of the socks around my son’s face and wait for his reaction.  What better way to satisfy my curiosity than give someone else the chance to smell the sock.  This video link documents the occasion.  The lesson….keep an eye on your riding buddy when using the bike washing station or you may get a taste of the stink socks of Tsali.

The Trails of Tsali

Near the begining of the Left Loop

Just over the hill in North Carolina Tsali offers great trails for us Mountain Bikers.  The lake views from the Left Loop, Overlook and Mouse Branch Overlook are nothing short of spectacular.  I took my family for a long weekend.  We rented a cabin near Bryson City just a few miles down the road from the Tsali Recreation Area .  Most of the reviews I read before going talked about the challenging trails and indicated that they were not for beginners.  After riding the trails I disagreed.  Both my son and I were a little underwhelmed.  We did however still have a great time and I would recommend the trip.  The Tsali trails alternate horse/bike every other day , so you can only ride one side of the park on a given day. Tuesday, Thursday and Sat are Mousetail and Thompson while the remainder of the week is Left and Right loops.  On any day you can ride 20+ miles of good to great trails regardless.

Left Loop

More Difficult, 11.9mi, Hilly, Some Obstacles

Longest Tsali trail. Starts with a roller coaster ride along the lakeshore that you can control! Trail dips into a cove, crosses a creek, then emerges to zoom along the lakeshore time and again. Toward the overlook, the trail moves into the interior hills of the peninsula. Here, there are rolling sections, and 2 relatively long climbs, followed by 2 steep downhills; the second downhill has several great jumps. Further on, a very muddy creekside climb is followed by a fast, rolling cruise that connects to Overlook Loop (see top of map). The Left Loop is completed with a ride along County Line Road (doubletrack/gravel) which is shared with Right Loop.  This part can be a bit of a yawn.  The good news is that it is mostly slightly down hill and has intermitent water bars that make for good jumps.

Mouse Branch Loop

Moderate, 6.5mi, Hilly, Some Obstacles

Has one long, fast singletrack downhill, with a gradual climb up to it. Good views, trail passes over neat clearcut hills–in one spot, you can see the trail snaking over on the next ridge. Watch how quickly the forest can change as you go in and out of coves and along ridges. Connects to Mouse Branch Overlook Loop

Mouse Branch Overlook Loop

Moderate, 2.5mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

A new addition. One way trail (counter-clockwise). Good view from the overlook, not as spectacular as the one from Overlook Loop but well worth the ride out there. You can see some neat islands down in the lake. This extension also has some great downhills, which makes it even more worthwhile.

Right Loop

More Difficult, 11mi, Hilly, Few Obstacles

Shorter loops possible using connector trails. Some lakeshore riding, lots of hilly interior riding with a few steep, challenging spots. Has lots of great jumps. Has a few creek crossings, one of which is done on a brand new bridge. Sections are fast, buffed, winding, narrow, sidehill singletrack that clings to the side of a mountain. Be sure to keep a finger on the brakes in those outside curves–to avoid a trip off the side of the mountain! Intersects a side out-and-back trail to Windy Gap overlook–worth riding for the trail itself, not really the “overlook”. Also intersects Overlook Loop and Left Loop (see descriptions below). Loop is completed with a fast, smooth ride along County Line Road (doubletrack/gravel) which is shared with Left loop.

Thompson Loop

Moderate, 7.7mi, Hilly, Few Obstacles

Some stream crossings and old logging roads. Mixed pine and hardwood forests at Tsali are easily recognized on this trail. Some old homesites. Neat part of forest with tall hemlocks and rhododendron, not typical of the heavily logged areas at Tsali. More great lakeshore singletrack riding with long, gradual hills. Some really great fast gravel road sections.

Go to the picture section of BikesNBeers Facebook link to see more photos of Tsali.  Happy trails!