Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lake Lurleen Hammock Camping and Mountain Biking

On the last weekend of the kids' Spring Break I took the Hammock Tent out to Lake Lurleen State park.  This was probably my last moment alone to do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, for the year, so it was important to take advantage of the time.  Brenna and the kids were in Tampa with family and I stayed behind to work the week.  Once I got the forecast done I scrambled south to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and then to the park which is a few miles outside of town.

I am not much on sleeping on the ground and bringing along heavy inflatable mattresses (Yes, I'm a wus...I admit it) but the remedy to this is the Hennessey Hammock.

You sleep comfortably in the tent with it's rain flap and bug net, and the best part is with this kind of hammock, you can sleep diagonally in the tent and the sleeping surface is flat.  You can roll over, sleep on your side, and whatever other position makes you happy.  Its rare to find a 3lb camping shelter that takes up barely any room the backpack, sets up that easily and allows comfort when out in the woods.

Enough with the gear review.  Its awesome.  Period.

I did get ribbed by the ranger at the park though.  She was asking "Where's your tent?"  To which I replied, "It's hanging from the tree over there."  She countered eloquently, "That's not a tent, it's a hammock with a doohicky over it.  We usually don't let people without tents stay in the campgrounds but I'll let it slide tonight."

I queried as to why there was a Campers-Must-Have-A-Tent rule the next day.  (Nope, I didn't push my luck debating campground policy prior to spending the night there.)  She said that people without tents tend to "do things out in the open" with all the other campers able to see.  I can only imagine...  The policy isn't for the privacy of the people in the "non-tent" category, it's for the protection of the other campers there and their kids since some people are morons.  (My words not the rangers) After that explanation, I half-understand the policy, but I guess since I didn't look like a drunken idiot, the ranger made a judgement call that my one person campsite wasn't going to be a problem.

The next morning, I cooked up a fine breakfast of tea, eggs and toast on the camp stove and got ready to hit the trails.  Lake Lurleen has about 19 miles of trails available, and I figured I would ride them twice on the rented Gary Fisher 29r rig that I had borrowed from Cahaba Cycles.  A side story is that I had this demo bike because I had broken my current bike frame earlier in the week.  So sad to see the old Ionic fail due to all the miles and splashing around in creeks I have done over the years.

I took out the Gary Fisher Xcaliber 29r and enjoyed it thoroughly.  It's a hard tail aluminum frame with monster truck wheels.  I'm pretty well sold on the big wheeled bikes now although my video doesn't look as smooth as some other ones, the ride was pretty good.

The bike itself was fun and feels really smooth over smaller bumps.  It also climbs really well and I find it rolls downhill faster than my former Ionic.  I figured a good 40 miles of riding on one would seal the deal on a 29r, and it has.  It has also sealed the deal on getting a 29r with full suspension.  Forget all the standing and getting kicked all over the bike when you hit rocks.  I'm going plush on the next ride.  I might even name it, "The Couch".  We will see when I actually get around to picking up a bike.

I flatted 3 tires in 60 miles of riding and that was the only drawback to the two rides I had with this bike that week.  One particularly nasty flat was a front tire blowout as I bombed down a hill and had to make a sharp left at the bottom.  The front tire just rolled under and sent me flying a la Superman.  Glad I didn't hurt too much at the time, but I am still sore two weeks after the fact from that crash where the bike flipped up behind me and hit me somehow.

The trails there were fun and had loads of switchbacks but lacked something.  They would be great to bring a beginning rider that wanted to spend a couple hours covering all the different loops.  There isn't anything that created white knuckle sensations aside from my own ineptitude at staying upright on a bike and inner-tube failures.  One thing I thought was interesting was how the lower into the gullies you rode, the vegetation would change to a lush green, and up on the ridges the trees still look bare and wintry.  

Anyway.  That's a lot of outdoor gear and trail review for one post.  I will sign off with a short video of the trip.  

Or directly to the YouTube HD 1080p version: Here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amusing video Brad. A Fisher?? And finally, where was the crash?