Sept'06-A"Pre journey" to MT. CHEAHA

Discussion in 'Travelling, Commuting & Safety' started by bamabikeguy, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Sep 30, 2006
    Likes Received:
    This is the saga of the LAST camping trip I took, Sept. 21-24, 2006, without the benefit of

    Back before the turn of the century, I got addicted to "Yahoo Auction Bridge", staying up all night, hoping to hit a slam. I started building motorized bikes in late summer of 2005, and while riding, kept thinking about potentials and improvements. At least with you guys I don't have to explain all the crazy ideas that come up while alone on long backroad.

    I had to get the word out how fun this was.

    Then Katrina hit the coast, and I was in Huntsville, doing a television interview at Alabama A&M that morning, the wind so strong that we had to cancel the session because of audio interference. Gas prices hit $3, and I got busy, building bikes for local folks. All winter long I thought about "seeing the country" at 250 mpg.

    The March trip to Florida, and the summer trip to Denver were eye-openers, I learned so much cruising around at 30-35 mph.

    When I finally hooked up to the internet, on September 6, 2006, I fruitlessly looked for a forum on Yahoo, I advertised motorized bikes on a few sites, trying to get more bikes in surrounding counties.....spinning my wheels.
    Keep in mind, at that time I had only seen ONE other MB, the hobodude with the washing machine dealio on the wooden plank, had no idea you folks were out there. But those two Yahooforums were WORTHLESS.

    Finally a guy answered my bike ad, in a college town about 100 miles southeast of me. Jeff in Jacksonville wrote:

    So, first thing was using the power of the internet to write the many newspapers in that general direction, and the one closest to my point of interest, Mt. Cheaha State Park, wrote me back.


    THINGS ARE DIFFERENT ON THIS THIRD TRIP- The Florida trip was spur of the moment, a test for the Denver challenge. My friend in NC, Bill, had promised to send a new dome tent pre-Denver, but ..... however the tent did arrive in early September.

    When I got back from Denver, downloaded my 250 pictures to FijiFilm, I discovered I had "that damn black dot" on my lens!!! Looks like an ecclipse. THIS TIME I was going to do things different.

    In the back of my mind, I wanted to use my camera to be my diary, jog my memory. Also, when I was coming into the panhandle of Oklahoma, I was just a few miles from "THE HIGHEST POINT IN OKLAHOMA", and regretted not climbing that point as a curiosity.

    THIS TIME I was going to get every thing on digital disk, starting at my bike shop, THE PEDDLER, in Decatur, where they had a new set of saddle bags I had ordered.

    The following PHOTO NUMBER ONE, plays a very key part in the story:


    I'm "thinking" that if I get to the bottom of Mt. Cheaha, hide all my camping stuff behind the bushes, to lighten the load, switch the belt gear from "Highway 13 teeth" to "Mountain 11 teeth", I can take a picture at the bottom, race to the top and take a second picture, which documents my "climb time". I just found this map yesterday, so back in Sept. I really had no idea what it would look like.

    Point being, until some other idiot on a motorized bike came along, I'd be the "official record holder" thanks to digital camera technology.


    In hindsight, MapQuest would have been handy, but I was still using AAA maps. And in reality, MapQuest limits me to 10 "stops", which does NOT give me an accurate "number of miles" because of my consistent ability to take a wrong turn, and stay pretty well "lost" for awhile. Especially in fading sunlight. Or on cloudy days when the sunset is obsured.

    So, in hindsight, the route I took sort of looks like this:


    MapQuest may calculate the total miles at 255, but I have to add 40 more getting lost late Thursday, 20 more for fiddling around in Heflin on Friday, and maybe 20 more for finding myself on a road not on any map while returning home Sunday.

    Yep, things are going to be different this time. I don't own a cell phone, haven't worn a watch in thirty years. I'm taking a lot of pictures on my way to Jacksonville State University, of the BBQ joint I stopped at, the cops that took a test ride in the parking lot. I'm supposed to meet the prospective bike engine customer at 4 p.m., but when I got to the outskirts of Jacksonville, crossed the Chief Ladiga Bike Trail, I took a left. 20 miles later, "Welcome to Peidmont". ??? :shock: Well, I took a picture to capture my surprise........

    This screws up my whole plan, I was going to show the guy the bike, then keep on going into the Talledega Forest, camp, and meet the Cleburne News editor Friday before noon, climb Mt. Cheaha, and go to Little River Canyon (the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon) on Saturday. Chattanooga was in my realm of possibilities... :grin:

    Now, sunset is approaching, I'm in the wrong town, and the prospective bike engine guy is probably mad about the missed appointment. By the time I got to back to Jacksonville, Talledega Forest is too far away. :???: FORTUNATELY the guy was pretty cool, his brother was out of town, and he let me park the bike at the brothers apartment, and while it was too late to let him ride the bike, I said I would loop back around Saturday morning after the Mt. Cheaha challenge.

    Early Friday, I leave Jax at the crack of dawn, trying to at least get the early morning appointment with Mr. Ruple on schedule. GREAT RIDE, skirting the edges of Talledega Forest, lots of pictures. Phone booths are few and far between, I arrive on the outskirts of Heflin, stop for coffee, and the owner of the cafe says "I read about you in the paper yesterday". ??? :???: How can this be?

    As I backed away from the cafe door, my pedal spun around and snapped off the kickstand I had bought in Denver. :mad: I find the newspaper office, and Wayne is way out in the county, chasing a story about 2 guys finding a 6 FOOT RATTLESNAKE.


    Above is the Cleburne Newstaff, Augie instructed me on how to use my right clicker on my mouse. Outside the office, I met the Mayor of Heflin, she also said she "read about me". :???:

    The very helpful girl on the left, Stacy, said her husband had a welding shop, could probably fix my kickstand. I bought a copy of the paper, to read the story Wayne wrote about me, BEFORE I even arrived.

    (Note to MB.members. Ideally we want to promote good ideas AND promote goodwill. Heflin treated me excellently, and I HIGHLY recommend you visit that area. My letter to Wayne Ruple follows this, but you could write them a note, tell them you read about them on :cool:

    Write them BECAUSE they know how to treat us idiots on motorized bicycles. Before I headed to the welding shop, I stopped at a General Merchandise store, bought some clamps and braces, and he GAVE them to me. FREE. :grin: I took pictures.

    I got to the welding shop, a gathering place for a whole 'nother group of nuts, MUDHOPPERS. Those trucks and jeeps with HUGE tires, who gather every so often, drink a LOT of beer and race around in a local MUDTRACK. I took pictures. While one guy brazed my broken kickstand, a off-duty sheriff deputy told me about a guy up the road, who made sorghum, he was about to take a load of prisoners up to "chop cane."

    This fits into my "ethanol/alcohol as fuel" angle, so I got specific directions how to get there. The welding shop took 30 minutes, and did not charge me a dime..

    I bought Wayne Ruple lunch at a GRAND OPENING Philly Cheesesteak shop downtown (pix). We talked about the possibility of the Mt. Cheaha area becoming a rally point for motor bike enthusiasts. Well, we talked until it was too late to climb Mt. Cheaha.

    So I headed northeast to the sorghum mill. I scooped out "green fixin's". I got lost. I set up my tent under an abandoned farm carshed, because of threatening weather (tornados hit Oneonta that night). Not a drop.

    Early Saturday I stayed lost, and MapQuest does not show how I ended up in Peidmont a second time!! By the time I got back to Jacksonville, located a bikeshop to buy a new kickstand, a street festival was underway. I met the mayor, talked to the Anniston Star folks, visited the college campus. In other words, I spent most of the day enjoying the Jacksonville hospitality, which meant Chattanooga was now off the itenerary, and Little River Canyon was looking very iffy as well.

    You have to be flexible, (which is easy without a watch, compass, cell phone or detailed map). Then when something unexpected occurs, you can make adjustments to keep on having a good time. Street festivals, however, can be very dangerous. All those food vendors, all that hickory smoke and sweet bakery smells. My downfall was a combination of Kilbasa and this cherry/strawberry thing. Anyway, I took plenty of pix, met the guy who wanted to test ride the bike, and thankfully used the brothers apartment again to rest my upset stomach.

    The next morning that storm from the west hit at dawn as I left again at the crack of dawn, arriving to breakfast, my THIRD time in Piedmont, and it wasn't even on my list of cities to visit. I raced up to Ft. Payne, supposedly Randy Owen of the group Alabama is a third or fourth cousin, and I alway heard a childhood story about his daddy (or uncle) and my great uncle who owned the Huntsville stockyard. Plenty of pix...

    Well, it's getting late (5:08 a.m.), time to hit the barn, wrap this story up.

    Over in General Discussion, "How did you find this site?"
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2015

  2. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Sep 30, 2006
    Likes Received:

    If you write Wayne and the staff of the Cleburne News a short note, it would sure be appreciated (AND it promotes at the same time). :grin:

    Some links involved in this tour:

    Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet Trails (plus one up in West Virginia)

    Mt. Cheaha Mountain Bike Trail

    Little River Canyon and umpteen other NE Alabama Parks

    Also, Cookie sent this list of the "Top 100 trails"

    Adjacent Counties (from Wikipedia)

    Cherokee County, Alabama - north
    Polk County, Georgia - northeast
    Haralson County, Georgia - east
    Carroll County, Georgia - southeast
    Randolph County, Alabama - south
    Clay County, Alabama - southwest
    Talladega County, Alabama - southwest
    Calhoun County, Alabama - west
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2015