Monday, January 2, 2012


Yesterday my Dad and I tried to ride 5 Points. I had a great time up there with Travis, I knew he'd love it and I wanted to see where the Long Branch Trail went, so we met at the corner of I-75 and 140 and trekked on up there. Both of us checked the weather the previous day, and the previous night, and that morning and still we got rained out.



5 hours of windshield time, down the drain. Such is cycling though.

Today we endeavoured to make up for it but we didn't have the same kind of time to spend so we hit a local trail, or at least a substantially more local trail - McIntosh Reserve. My Dad and my brother and I used to ride and race there a good bit in the early 2000's. Some time ago it flooded really badly though and much of the park was under several feet of water for a year or more. Around that same time, trails started popping up in Paulding County and at Clinton and nobody even talked about McIntosh any more. It seemed to have been all but forgotten by the collective Atlanta-Area Mountain Biking Consciousness.

In truth, I wasn't sure it was still even open, so I actually called to make sure before we made the trip down. Yep, they were open, and they have a website, and there was even a map. Woohoo!

I picked up my dad from his place and met my brother at his place and we headed over together. The lady at the front gate was very friendly but she talked my brother's ear off. She was concerned for us being out in the woods because it was already 'cold' (48 degrees) and the temperature was supposed to drop and the wind was pretty strong. She was also really worried that we didn't have enough time (3 hours) to ride the entire 12 miles of trail. It was a bit brisk, but the wind wasn't a big deal and we were pretty confident that we could knock out the miles.

We parked down by the river and got dressed. A cat was roaming around the lot and though it was a little apprehensive at first, it eventually let me scratch it for a few minutes.

I taped the map to my stem and we hit the trail.


Right away, I could see that it might be a long day. Mountain bikers may have forgotten about the trail but it appears to have become even more popular among equestrians. The first hill didn't run straight up the fall line, but it definitely didn't follow the half-backslope rule. The soil there is somewhat sandy, and between the grade, the hoof prints and the dense leaf cover, it really took some effort to climb.

I know my Dad's pace, so I just started up the first hill at that pace, but my brother doesn't usually ride with us and it threw me off. I heard him right behind me the whole time, confused that for my Dad being right behind me and rode harder up the hill than I otherwise would have. We ended up dropping my Dad and he over-worked himself trying to catch. He didn't blow up completely, but he wasn't far from it. It took most of the ride for him to recover. I did that once on the Dalton Pinhoti with my brother and Mark Baldwin - I blew up on the road before we even got to the trail and it took 20 of the 32 miles to recover. I almost did it on P1 on Andrew's birthday. It's so easy to do, especially when you're first getting warmed up.

We rode all around the Southeast corner of the park. The trails were soft and leafy and bumpy and eroded. They were definitely challenging, with plenty of technical climbs and descents, but they were very rough and it was difficult to carry speed.

We crossed a creek by a little water park and meandered past an old cabin.

 McIntosh Reserve Cabin

Apparently the land is named after William McIntosh, an Indian Chief of both Creek Indian and British descent, thus the English name, who ran a plantation on the grounds. He served under Andrew Jackson and had a distinguished military and political career, helping to establish many US-Creek treaties. Despite all that, his cousin on his Dad's side got elected Governor of Georgia by promising to remove all Native Americans from the state and that put him on the Creek's bad side. Ultimately they murdered him and burned his plantation.

I'm not sure whether the cabin was left unburned or whether it was built later. There are interpretive signs all over the place though. If we'd been in less of a hurry, I might have read them. Apparently there was a Civil War battle somewhere around there too but I didn't see any signs for that.

There's a big hill down by the river with a pavillion where you can get a good view of the river.

 Chattahoochee River

A lady and her daughter were looking around too and talked our ears off about kayaking.

We sort-of rode a more-rideable-than-it-looks trail over the rocks behind the overlook, past the Council Bluffs where Indian Chiefs used to meet, along the river for a while and back up into the woods.

The trail was hard to follow in some places. Hard to even see.


The hills were steep and chunky. The flat spots appeared to collect water and hoof prints. In antiquity, there was always a horse-line and a bike-line. There was always a path of packed-down trail to one side or the other of the hoof prints. Not so much any more. We just had to power through them.

It's more or less one long, difficult climb to the north end of the park, away from the river, and then a long descent back to the south. There was a side-loop off of the main trail heading back south and it was actually really nice.

There was a mile or so of trail that we hadn't ridden yet so we looped back over toward it on the pavement. On the way, we ran into the lady from the front office. Again, she expressed strong concern over us being out in the cold and it seemed inconceivable to her that we only had a mile left to ride.

My dad had whacked his knee earlier trying to climb one of the sketchier little kicks so he bailed off back to the car. John and I hit that last little bit of trail and joined him. We probably had enough time to spin another, abbreviated lap but we were just as satisfied not to.

The trails out there aren't bad, they're just not great, given what else there is to ride these days. I hear complaints all the time about how all the new trails people are building are too sanitized and too easy. There's always McIntosh.

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