By Morgan Simmons Knoxville News Sentinel
Knoxville's first bicycling guidebook was worth the wait. Now available in area bike shops and book stores, "Bicycle Routes" includes route descriptions of 40 of the best scenic rides around Knoxville. The book covers a nine-county radius and includes maps as well as some wonderfully clever photography, courtesy of the author, Elle Colquitt.
As past president of the Smoky Mountain Wheelmen, Colquitt saw the need for a guidebook dedicated to Knoxville's cycling routes. The result is "Bicycle Routes," a reference tool that will be invaluable to local cyclists as well as to visitors from out of town.
The book is broken down into four sections, including routes north of Knoxville (Clinton, Big Ridge State Park, Norris); south of Knoxville (Townsend, Friendsville, Pigeon Forge); east of Knoxville (Kodak, Seymour, Sevierville): and west of Knoxville (Kingston, Lenoir City, Melton Hill Dam).
The start locations and routes are color-coded for easy reference, and each route description is accompanied by a map marking the stores and restrooms along the way. Knoxville cyclist Jon Livengood did the maps and deserves credit for making them detailed and accurate, yet easy to read.
Colquitt spent one year researching and compiling "Bicycle Routes." She cycled 4,300 miles and always carried a camera. Her color photographs offer a veritable travelogue of East Tennessee's back roads as seen from a bike. Local cyclists likely will recognize some of Colquitt's eye-catching images, whether they be license plate sculptures, totem poles or a herd of bison grazing next to a rural road.
The cycling routes profiled in the guide book range in distance from 20 to 65 miles. Alternate start locations are suggested for each route, and whenever feasible, Colquitt includes directions on how to access the route from downtown Knoxville. Elevation gains and route profiles are provided to help the cyclist determine a route's degree of difficulty. In choosing routes for the guidebook, Colquitt looked for roads that were scenic and free of heavy traffic. She cycled every inch of road covered in the guidebook and came away with a few favorites.
In researching the book, Colquitt tapped into the collective knowledge of Knoxville's cycling community to draw a bead on the best roads and routes close to Knoxville. The book includes contact information for 18 bike shops, seven bicycle clubs, and numerous bicycle tours and races around the region.
"Bicycle Routes" sells for $24.95. The book is available at Knoxville bicycle shops, as well as Mast General Store and Carpe Librum. Information about the book, including a gallery page and sample route maps, is available online at http://www.miniadventureseries.com/.