New data­base shows the area’s best cy­cling routes

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - REGION - BY MARK PACE STAFF WRITER

A new on­line data­base high­lights tested, safe and scenic cy­cling routes at a va­ri­ety of dis­tances in the Se­quatchie Val­ley.

The data­base, called Bike­ways of the Scenic South and avail­able at scenicbike­ways. com, will soon ex­pand to other ru­ral ar­eas in the re­gion.

The site gives a mul­ti­tude of routes with turn-by­turn di­rec­tions.

The project is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween area coun­ties, the South­east Ten­nessee Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion, Shan­non Burke of Velo View Bike Tours, and Jim John­son of BikeTours.com.

Part of the routes will be tested at the new Cy­cle Se­quatchie event this fall. Or­ga­niz­ers hope par­tic­i­pants en­joy the event’s routes and re­turn on their own.

The routes cur­rently in­clude Mar­ion, Se­quatchie and Bled­soe coun­ties and will soon ex­pand to Three Rivers Way (Bradley, Polk, McMinn and Mon­roe coun­ties) and Ge­or­gia High­lands (North­west Ge­or­gia).

“While our re­gion has some of the most scenic cy­cling roads any­where in the coun­try, find­ing those low-traf­fic back­roads has not al­ways been easy,” John­son, an early pro­po­nent of the

re­gional scenic bike­ways con­cept, said via a re­lease. “Bike­ways of the Scenic South will help both vis­i­tors and res­i­dents dis­cover these beau­ti­ful back­roads. Ad­di­tion­ally, bi­cy­cle tourism is sus­tain­able: It doesn’t cause the dam­age that many kinds of mass tourism bring.”

The fin­ished Se­quatchie Val­ley maps in­clude 12 routes that roll through farm coun­try, up the Cum­ber­land Plateau, through the val­ley and along miles of coun­try roads. Dis­tances vary be­tween 4.6 miles and 56 miles with most be­tween 25 and 50 miles.

Each route is down­load­able and print­able and can be up­loaded to bike com­put­ers with map­ping tech­nol­ogy. The maps give turn-by-turn di­rec­tions with a full topo­graph­i­cal over­view. The site also gives short de­scrip­tions of each route.

“The nar­ra­tives don’t just de­scribe the roads, scenery and land­marks, but also talk about where to stop for a drink and a snack and where to eat af­ter the ride,” Burke said via a re­lease.

The ef­fort was co­or­di­nated by SETTA, part of the South­east Ten­nessee De­vel­op­ment Dis­trict. The or­ga­ni­za­tion sees the project as an eco­nomic driver for the ru­ral ar­eas.

“Cy­cling is big busi­ness and has proven to be an eco­nomic tool in many com­mu­ni­ties across the county,” SETTA tourism co­or­di­na­tor Jenni Veal said. “It makes sense for our re­gion to in­vest in cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture be­cause it’s very in­ex­pen­sive to do but has big eco­nomic im­pacts.”

Con­tact staff writer Mark Pace at [email protected]­free press.com or 423-757-6659. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @the­mark­pace and on Face­book at Chat­tanoogaOut­doorsTFP.

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