Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Base - Part 2

I rode my bike around portions of the base this morning, on a cool and very cloudy day.
My bike is still filled with Wyoming dirt that has hardened into cement on the outside walls of my tires, and filled with Wyoming dirt that has buried into the nooks and crannies of all moving parts.
I should have cleaned it by now but still have not and my caring Mountain Boy did lube my chain for me, providing at least some chance that the gears would successfully change when I asked them to.
Surprisingly but thankfully I have no problems with my well traveled mountain bike for the duration of the ride.
After parking the truck in the gravel parking area at the mountain bike trail head I unloaded, geared up and headed back to the road.
The entrance to the trails is indicated by this sign. 
AEDC Saddle Club is little more than an informal group of horse riders who ride trails irregularly throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.
In all the years I have been coming to this place I have run into horse riders maybe 15 times.
The paved roads are filled with rolling hills and multiple access/bailout points to sections of the trail system.
I used those points often when I first started training out there.
The trail system is so extensive that often I would have to bail out of the trails if I needed to be somewhere at a specific time, hit a fire service or jeep trail (which connected with the main roads through the base) and road ride or road run back to my truck.
By the end of that first year of wandering around in the woods I could pop out of a trail, look up and down the road and immediately know where I was, head back onto the trails and eventually work my way back to my vehicle.
Often I was shocked at how far I had wandered, but at that point it did not really matter - it was all training.
Eventually I knew the trails so well that I knew which trail hooked up with another which hooked up with another and could easily make it back to the truck strictly on trails............
A lake access immediately across the road from the trail system..............
When I ran the other day I passed directly across this power line trail.
I am used to glancing briefly at it in both directions as I pick up another trail but this is a view of it from the road............
While casually riding around this morning I saw two wild turkeys run full speed across the road, and saw somewhere around 10 deer.
All of them too fast for me to stop and grab for my camera.
They were gone before I hardly realized that they had been there.
The base holds public dove/turkey/deer hunts and public bow/muzzle loader/rifle hunts and the trails are closed each weekend for the next six weeks.................
During the last navigation training that LC and I put together before we left for Alaska, we walked almost a mile down the center of this creek to place a check point.
Some found it.  Some did not..............
My Tassamarlin.
A Gary Fisher Marlin frame with primarily GF Tassajara components................
The main UTSI facility.
UTSI is an expansive educational facility that sits in one corner of the base adjacent to the lake - actually and officially Woods Reservoir.
Also close to this facility are smaller research and development facilities related to propulsion systems.
UTSI proper is a University of Tennessee training facility that leads students from around the world to PhD's in engineering related fields.
More information on UTSI:
Riding to the back of the facility there are student living quarters, a small beach access, a boat dock, and a number of short and very lovely and quiet trails.
When I was triathlon training prior to moving into adventure racing I spent a lot of time in this section of the base.
I was swimming in a pool often in preparation for my first tri and ran into a retired Air Force guy at the pool who was also training for a local event.
He had a good deal of triathlon experience and we began swimming, road biking and road running together on a regular basis.
This was our jumping off point.
We would meet a few mornings a week here depending on our respective work schedules, swim a mile in the lake, bike a 16 mile road loop and then run four miles out and back.
After every workout we would find ourselves sitting on these steps eating and drinking and talking and recuperating from hard work outs, and he was instrumental in helping me through my first race................
Starting point for training swims.
My training partner was a good 10 or 12 years olden than me but so much faster in the water than I was.
Every once in a while we would run into another guy who was about 25 years older than me.
He did Ironman races when he was younger and even though he would start swimming after us, he would already be on his second mile by the time we finished our first.
This same old guy is the person who began subversively trail building years ago where all the marked mountain bike trails are now located.
He is one of those quiet but strong-willed folks who believes in asking for forgiveness instead of asking for permission, began trail building before anyone on the base knew anything about it, and then proceeded to build a trail system beloved by local mountain bikers.
He takes on the bulk of trail maintenance even now, is still a great rider even as he has stopped running and seriously swimming, and when LC and I first arrived back in Tullahoma and stopped at the trail head briefly we ran into this same old guy.
Still chainsawing downed trees and clearing the trails and still riding strong...................
After wandering around close to the boat dock I found myself unconsciously heading down a trail.
After walking for only a few minutes I suddenly thought "what am I doing?" and headed back to retrieve my bike.
For all the biking I did early on in Juneau it was all road riding.
And for all the biking I did early on in Wyoming it was all on open and sandy BLM land.
It will take some time to again get used to roots and rocks and leaf-covered trails and tight trails with trees placed in challenging bends (I always used to hit the same trees in the same places!).
And so I grabbed my bike and headed down an easy-to-ride wide and tree lined trail for just a short way..............
Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.................Stanley Horowitz

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