A 12-Mile Mountain Bike Loop Failure

It started as a short 12-mile mountain bike ride. Most of it on trails or narrow dirt roads. There was one section of paved road that I suspected would put me on a loop back home. If it worked I’d have a nice 12-mile loop.

When I started racing bicycles in 1972 our team, The Savannah Wheelmen, had permission to train on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. There was a road, Perimeter Road, which as named, encircled the perimeter creating a 10-mile loop of the base. Our team would ride around Hunter two to twelve times per day. Since it was a 10-mile loop it wasn’t tedious. The major factor was that it was nearly void of traffic. It remains one of the safest training routes in memory.

Finding a 12-mile loop, mostly off road, here near Athens, Georgia seemed like a great idea. I’d been searching and felt I was close. Heading out to find the last few miles needed to create the course I was optimistic.

Miles of this on a mountain bike is fun. This is a long uphill grade, steep in sections.

For seven miles I was primarily on trails, dirt roads and a very isolated paved road. Then, things got dicey.

I knew a section of the yet discovered loop would be on a more traveled road. It wasn’t a bad road and there were signs to encourage motorists to “Share the Road” with cyclists. This would last only a mile or so before I turned left and took my Cannondale back into the woods to close the loop.

This old shack is next to a single track

The surprise came from a road closure with only four miles of my estimated ride remaining. Riding right wouldn’t work since that would send me in the wrong direction. Left was out because that landed me on a road with heavy traffic. I took road number three a total guess; Monty Hall would have been proud. He’d also have been saddened by my choice –it was the wrong road.

Not exactly certain where this is, but there were cattle everywhere.

After too long and being a bit lost, I needed help. I had my phone in my pocket and decided to consult Google Maps. Naturally, there was no cellular service. I did spot a few folks skinning a deer so I rode over on my bike to ask for help.

This is a familar crossing.

One nice thing about living near Athens, cyclists are a common sight. So are people skinning deer. In fact, many cyclists here skin deer. When I asked how to get back to Good Hope, Georgia, I learned I was way the hell off course. So far so that the fastest way home was to do a 100% back track.

When I passed this, I knew I was at a minimum in the correct county

I’ll try this again with the road is open. I know there is a way to come up with a 12 to 15 mile loop that is almost as safe as those days circling Hunter.

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