Chattanooga, Tennessee Shamrock Tour® : In Our Own Backyard

Text: Cameron Muilenburg • Photography: Luke Swab

Luke was stripping down to his underwear in the middle of a park somewhere outside of Cleveland, TN, not too far from our hometown of Chattanooga. Just behind him flowed the Hiwassee River, over which stretches a bridge from where he claimed he’s seen people jump. It was 50 degrees outside. As to how cold the water was, we could only guess.

Luke and I cannot pass up an opportunity to jump in the water while traveling together. It seems as though the more foolish the opportunity, the more excited we are to make it happen. This was Kody’s first tour with us and he jumped right in, quite literally. I decided to go first and began my climb up the old stone bridge to the railroad tracks above. 

I gazed over the edge. It was colder and higher than I thought. I was shivering with knees knocking as I peered over the old railroad ties. I hollered down at my idiot friends and asked if they’re positive people jump from here. Just then, an older gentleman pulled into the parking lot. Laughing both at us and with us, he pointed out exactly where people jump and confirmed that the water’s plenty deep this time of year. 

Three… Two… One…

You can try and imagine what it felt like to take that leap, hesitatingly trusting my friends and a stranger on the river’s depth, and then feeling the impact of the frigid water. 

Kody and Luke climbed up and jumped together, almost landing on top of one another. We all survived, and fortunately one of us brought a towel. We dried off, got as bundled up as we could, and hopped back onto our bikes. This was the first stop of the trip and we definitely started it off with a bang. 

Winding Our Way to Starr Mountain

It was only 11 a.m. and we’d already checked off one of our two goals for the first day of our Shamrock Tour®—finding some water in which to jump. Our second goal was to cruise over to Starr Mountain and hike to the top. We were all excited about the roads that would take us there. At first, they were just as we’d expected Tennessee backroads to be, great asphalt winding through beautiful scenery. As we approached the base of Starr Mountain, they shifted to fun, gravelly forest service roads with plenty of potholes to dodge.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the November/December 2020 back issue.