Mountain biking is spoke’n hot: About 40 million Americans participate in the sport according to the International Mountain Biking Association. And some of the best terrain in the country can be found in the Tennessee Valley.
TVA partners with local chapters of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and with Tennessee Valley cities and counties to provide some of the best trails in the southeast. These include the TVA-maintained Loyston Loop and Mill Creek Loop trails on Norris; the Raccoon Mountain trail system; the Honeycomb Trail on Guntersville; and the Yelling and Dam Builders trails at South Holston.
“We have trails that are for everyone, from beginners to real enthusiasts, and they’re sustainably designed to last well into the future — here for today, and there for tomorrow,” says TVA Natural Resources Recreation Strategist Clay Guerry. “The trails at Norris and Raccoon Mountain are real destination trails for travelers, too, meaning they have a positive economic impact on the Tennessee Valley.”
Get on Your Bike and Ride
But before you do, consider these pointers:
Get the right bike: If you’re a beginner, there’s no need to invest in an expensive bike (and they can cost $12,000), but it’s important to get one built for off-road biking. Look for one with a chunky frame and rugged,
high-volume tires that can handle rocks and roots.
Keep your head about you: Wear a helmet. Uneven ground ups your chances for crashes, so you want to keep your best asset covered. Expect to pay at least $50 for a good one.
Ride with a friend: Biking in good company makes for greater safety. If all goes well you’ll have shared memories to treasure. If not — and accidents do happen — you’ll be in a good position to get or give help.
Have a drink on you: Trail riding is thirsty work. Never let dehydration become an issue; take water with you. Better yet, have your bike fitted with a water-bottle holder.
You do you: Never ride trails you’re not comfortable on, or push yourself beyond your limits. Start slow and build your experience. And if you’re with your kids, stay at their level. There’s a lesson here for them: slow and steady wins the race.