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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
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The Big Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Expedition
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By Barn Door
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By Matt Gholson
Nov. 22, 2012 12:01 a.m.


For the last few years the East Side riders have went to Mulberry Gap in Georgia during the first shotgun deer season here in Illinois.  I was able to attend the trip this year.  Mulberry Gap bills itself as a unique mountain bike getaway, and that is exactly what it is.  They have cabins and a campground, an excellent dining hall and rec room, but the thing I will remember most about Mulberry is the food, it was really excellent.
To break up our drive and get in more riding we took in a few stops along the way, I’ll give you a shot report about each area.
Montgomery Bell State Park

The official Tour Vehicle


Our first destination is a small state park about an hour away from Nashville.  It was probably the most finely marked and built trail system I’ve ever been on.  Some Mountain bike areas are natural trails that go from one place to another, and others are manufactured to create the maximum amount of riding in a limited space.  We rode around 14 miles but never got more then a couple of miles from the truck, pretty much every bit of it was singletrack.

Montgomery Bell had several trail loops with wild names like Goat Path or The Flume, they were super well built and had several cool bridges and stuff.

After Montgomery Bell perhaps the luckiest moment of the trip was when Eli’s wheel come loose from the wheel carrier mounted on the roof rack.  We heard something bump off the back of the car.  It was dark and we were on the interstate going 70 mph.  I saw Eli’s bike wheel hanging on my handlebars on the hitchrack.  We pulled over and found the wheel was just sitting on my bike, not even hung up, just resting.  What luck.
The Raccoon Trail
We got some Coon’ on day two.  The Racoon trail is atop Racoon mountain in Chattanooga TN.  It’s a TVA hydroelectric facility, pretty awesome stuff. The trail makes a big circle ontop of the mountain and was smooth great trails.  It had some amazing overlooks towards Chattanooga.  It had a wild free ride sections and some neat skinnys to ride.


Tanasi at Ochee Whitewater Center.
This trail is near Ducktown which is short ways East of Chattanooga.  There was a 6 mile main loop and several small loops.  The main loop was mostly a double track but had lots of climbing.   We did 23 miles but about 5 of it was on a gravel road where we missed a turn.  The Whitewater Center was the location of the 1996 Olympic paddling competitions and was a world class facility.
 


Bear Creek and Pihoti 1 and 2
Our first morning riding out from Mulberry Gap was a big 28 mile ride.  It was cold in the morning and I was camping so I had a first hand experience in it.  We did a few miles of gravels and rode the Bear Creek up to an overlook of the Cohutta mountains.  We climbed steadily for about 12 miles then got the fun trip back down.
 

One minor setback for me on this ride when I nearly collided with Eli in front of me.  I was following tuo close and didn’t notice when he stopped for oncoming trail traffic.  I went from about 10mph to 0 in a few feet and went over the bars, my head bounced off his back tire which was a blessing because tires are much softer then rocks.  The funniest part was when the oncoming rider and his dog cruised by us without a word or even looking at me splayed out and tangled up with my bike.

The Pinhoti is a huge epic 140 mile trail in Alabama and Georgia, the sections we rode were all outstanding, the best trails I’ve ever ridden.
Pinhoti 3
Our last day was our shortest ride, and one of the toughest in terms of climbing.  Pinhoti 3 starts just up the road from Mulberry and climbs about 700 feet, its all single track.  700 feet wouldn’t be that much on trail it’s a bit harder.  We bombed back down and then left Mulberry in search of a trail we’d heard about, but never found it.
 
It was awesome to spend time with my riding pals and the other many riders staying at Mulberry.  We had a great time talking about our trails and their trails, and our bikes and their bikes.  Mountain bikers are generally fun and laid back, and the atmosphere at Mulberry kept everyone happy.  If you have an interest in riding some fantastic trails and staying at a righteous place I highly reccomend Mulberry Gap.

The official Tour Vehicle
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