Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Off into the wilderness

The Royal Blue and Sundquist State Forests
The area north of Oak Ridge contains about a quarter million acres of state forest wilderness. The Royal Blue and Sundquist areas are state 'wildlife management areas' (WMA's) - essentially hunting grounds, but are also part of TN's largest system of trails for off-road capable vehicles. Contained in this system are: Brimestone, Royal Blue WMA, Sundquist WMA, and Windrock. Each has a system of trails and in total, there are hundreds of miles of interconnecting trails.

I'll be riding there this week, based out of Caryville, TN. I've been asked to write an article about this ride for Adventure Motorcycle Magazine's June issue.

Regarding motorcycles, I'm in agreement with the magazine's slogan:

"Adventure begins where the pavement ends"

I sometimes feel sorry for those motorcyclists confined to the pavement.

An area as vast as the Royal Blue/Sundquist wilderness can't be traversed any other way but by a rugged off-road vehicle. For me, I much prefer my dual-sport motorcycle to 4-wheeled ATV's because it's quieter, more nimble, street legal, and it treads lightly - not ripping up the environment. It's also light enough to lift over logs blocking the trail. I've even dragged the bike under trees over the trail. Judging by pictures I've seen, ATV riders seem to like 'muddin' ... personally, I'll leave it to other types of animals to wallow in the mud. But, I can handle mud if I have to.

This is my bike of choice: the Kawasaki KL250 Super Sherpa. Light, tough, and strong.

I'll have a post and photos later this week of the upcoming ride. The top and bottom photos are by Shirley of me riding the steeps at the Cheatham WMA. If you ever try to ride these pipeline trails, make sure you have complete confidence in your machine and riding ability, because these valleys are v-shaped, once you go down, you must climb out, it's not so easy as the trails are rugged and the underbrush hides boulders and logs. The pictures don't do justice to the steepness.

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