Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 1 Tuesday 5-12-15 - Rock Spring to Rome via Maddox Gap

View today's route at Ride with GPS
My journey begins today at home in Rock Spring. Almost immediately I will come to Catlett Grocery, at mile 7.2. I guess you could consider it ill-boding that his is the first and last last known water/food stop until mile 40 (32.8 miles). I will need to top off water in Catlett - enough to last till Rome.I'll have negative 181 ft. of elevation for the day BUT  the day's max grade will occur early in the ride - a 6.5% grde at mile 12. (It's that big Grand Titon looking bump in the elevation chart below)  This route crosses Taylor Ridge at Maddox Gap (1,259 ft) early in the ride - occupying miles 11-12. I'll then drop 348 feet in 1 mile - but it is a curvy mile and I have to make a sharp turn right at the base of Taylor Ridge.
Taylor's Ridge in 1940 - would've required an MTB to cross then
The route then weaves through various valleys while avoiding anymore extreme elevations. It is mostly downhill after Maddox Gap. As you can see from the elevation graph, everything is downhill after Taylor Ridge. I'll travel some pretty remote areas today. Down West Armuchee Valley between Taylor Ridge and Dick Ridge, across Strawberry Mountain, down Heywood Valley, around Lavendar Mountain and then into Rome. Mile 38-39 is where I skirt around the NE base of Lavendar Mountain. At 1,700 feet, Lavender Mountain is the highest mountain in the Rome area and much of the thickly wooded area is owned by Berry College, which is at the foot of the mountain. I kind of felt like I had heard of it before, so I did some research. Lavendar Mountain is NW of Berry College and SW of Richard B Russell Airport. On Dec 11, 1991, the entire upper-management of Bruno's Supermarket were on a twin-engine Beechcraft BE-400 jet that crashed into a wooded area of Lavender Mountain, six and a half miles west of Richard B. Russell Airport. All nine people aboard were killed. I remember when that happened. Bruno's was around for a few years after that but the company never recovered and eventually faded into irrelevance. If you go to the Ride with GPS link at the top of this page and change the map view to USGS Scans topography, you can zoom in on Lavendar Mountain. You will see on top of the mountain the Berry Reservoir. This is where Berry College gets its drinking water from. Also within the Reservoir’s waters you can find the rare freshwater jellyfish. Lavender Mountain has a unique ecosystem that changes around every corner. On our trip in the eighties, Bill and I took a different route to Rome. We pretty much stuck to Hwy 27 and avoided Taylor Ridge until Summerville. It's still steep, either way!

Oostanaula River Walking Bridge
80's Trip-Bill looks excited to be in Rome
Long abandoned by the railroad, the span in this picture and other trails have been preserved by Rome and Floyd County and converted to a pedestrian bridge and bikeway. Now called the Robert Redden Foot Bridge, it is part of an extensive network of trails in the community, including the Heritage Park Trail. The last three (3) miles (mile 45-48) of today's ride follow the Heritage Park Trail. I will stay at the Hawthorne Wyndham - 110 West 2nd Avenue Rome, GA 30161 (706) 378-4837 - in Rome's Downtown Historic District. Pullen's Ordinary Bicycle Shop is next to the motel on Broad Street. There are many good restaurants within walking distance.
Day 1 Elevation and Grades

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