July Fourth Trail Ride on My Uni


Michael CraigI didn’t know what to expect.

I took a sort of “scouting expedition” to Tennessee this past weekend to determine the suitability of riding the Cherohala Skyway on my Unicycle next year.  My early optimism quickly vanished. 

I discovered that the CS is rather lacking in its  accommodation to cycles of any persuasion, whether a  bicycle OR unicycle.  There is no road shoulder at all, and the traffic is rather thick (at least during this Fourth of July weekend), and the curves and hills were a bit trickier than I remembered! 

I figured I have three options as far as riding the Cherohala: 

1) Join the bicycle event next June so as having extensive company during the ride,  2) Ride in the dead of winter when traffic will be very slight or non-existent, or 3) Don’t ride the Cherohala at all. 

The first option appears to be the most logical – and accommodating, since I’d be “covered” by many others during a ride.  The only problem with that option is that I would be slower than the 2-wheelers, hence still vulnerable to the onslaught of summer traffic when alone.  Also, the bike ride did not go the length of the Cherohala anyway, but took several detours. 

The second option is not appealing for obvious reasons (i.e., cold, ice and snow!) and the third option was viable only if I could find a suitable riding alternative.   I may, in fact, choose this one if I can find a more practical venue within the next few months. 

While in the mountains I visited Indian Boundary Lake (just off the Cherohala) to let my wife enjoy the beach while I traversed the 3.2 miles of bike trails around the lake perimeter.  It was great fun, but much harder than I am used to!  The trail was not paved, but consisted mostly of packed and loose gravel, mud, roots, narrow bridges, and the occasional big rock.  I fell four times and dismounted an equal number of times during this trek, but finally made it back around.  I was tired, but felt the glow of a sense of accomplishment.  

I also experienced the exhileration of riding over the dam, a 100 yard wide,  18 inches thick concrete structure at the river cutoff point.  Truth be told, it was covered on both sides by a chain-link fence, but still . . . the sensation of balancing on a concrete highwire was something that rarely presents itself!  A fall would not have sent me over the edge, but would certainly have produced a few nasty results!

I’ll be returning in a few weeks to check out some other trails, roads and path alternatives to the Cherohala.  Stay posted! 

Categories : General, Unicycling

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