Thursday, August 18, 2011

Butter Hollow Road

I love early Sunday morning rides, particularly during the summer. The weather is usually more pleasant, the roads are empty, and the world is full of grand potentials.

After 10 days off the bike, I had been able to manage a few short rides during the week. Lack of time and the lingering effects of my malady limited me to evening group rides and one commute to and from work. Saturday, RandoGirl and I wanted to spend most of the day with the RandoDaughter, since she heads back to college this week. We had to make do with an early 35 miles down in College Grove.

So, Sunday I wanted to squeeze in 50 miles and be home by 9 am. This meant rolling out at 6 am and sticking to the flatter roads, keeping to a brisk tempo pace. It was a Max Watzz kind of effort, but at a RandoBoy time of day.

I cut through some neighborhoods to Waller, then down to Split Log Road. Just before turning on to Pleasant Hill Road, I saw that the City of Brentwood has finished the multi-use path to that point. You can now get on this path and ride all the way down Split Log Road to Wilson Pike, where you pick up a network of paths that go to Ravenwood High School, Crockett Park, or even the library on Concord Road near I-65. If you like getting around on multi-use paths, this is a great addition.

Unfortunately, I couldn't limit myself to the 15 mph speed limit mandated on the paths, so I went to Clovercroft and turned east towards Nolensville. Just before town, I decided on a whim to turn right on Burke Hollow Road.

Now, I've been riding Burke Hollow Road since we moved here six years ago. It runs all the way to Wilson Pike, about a mile from Arrington, but doesn't get much traffic. It always had the potential to be a good biking road because of this, and could even be a great biking road due to the way that it rolls.

Some roads roll gently, so that you can get into a nice rhythm and big-ring your way down them. Wilson Pike is actually like this. Clovercroft is kind of like this, but the rollers are longer so that you have to be willing to work hard if you aren't going to go to the small ring.

Burke Hollow, on the other hand, has hills that change, and kind of curve around, and are steeper than they look. Heading from Wilson Pike towards Clovercroft, there's one really nasty climb, after which you can almost get a fun two-mile descent -- except there are a couple more hills in there that you have to punch hard or you'll lose all of your momentum. Heading from Clovercroft to Wilson Pike, it's those rollers I was telling you about.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, okay, maybe it's a masochistic kind of great, but it always had the potential to be that kind of fun ride. The only thing holding it back was a lack of pavement.

Not that it's a dirt road -- technically, it is paved. But it was not paved very well, The surface was almost Alabama chip and seal kind of rough, with pot-holes custom made to test the warranty on bicycle wheels.

It used to almost be fun to take somebody who was new to the area out on Burke Hollow -- particularly when you'd be riding it a lot and you knew where the latest landmines were -- and let them try to follow your line. Almost. Because everyone knows that it's all good fun until somebody breaks their collarbone.

But, back to Sunday. I had not been on Burke Hollow for a while, so you can only imagine my jubilation when I saw this:

Yeah, that's new pavement. Really, really good and smooth new pavement. And it went all the way -- from Clovercroft to Wilson Pike.

Like butter.

Next time you get held up on your morning commute by a crew of guys out working on a road, don't get mad. Instead, roll down your window and thank them for Burke Hollow Road.


  1. Years ago they ruined Pulltight, now Burke Hollow. Where does the gentrification stop? What am I to do with my 27 X 1 1/4, 75psi Continentals? Argghhh!

  2. Wish cyclists wouldn't ride on Burke Hollow. For those of us who live here and have to travel it, cyclists make our already risky road downright dangerous. It seems that a shouldered road would be safer for everyone.