Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Chief Ladiga Trail




Today’s ride features the Chief Ladiga Trail, one of the most popular “Rails to Trails” paths in the nation.  Chief  Ladiga, like many of the trails that are converted from former railroad beds, is paved, very level, and is an easy trail for the beginner Ebiker.  While lengthy ( today’s portion of Chief Ladiga is about 15 miles one way), there are many shady spots to pull over,  have a snack and some water. If you have a cooler backpack that will hold a blanket, consider pulling over on a wider green space and enjoy a picnic!

Ladiga is located in the central/northeast portion of Alabama, about 90 minutes from Birmingham.  While it begins around Anniston AL and runs to Georgia,  the entire trail is 33 miles and at the Georgia state line, becomes the Silver Comet Trail.  Beginning at Piedmont is a nice way to tell friends you rode through two States, but instead of a full 66 miles, this version is a more doable 30 miles.

Piedmont, a quaint, small town,  has an ideal starting point – the Eubanks Welcome Center.    Parking is free and there are clean restrooms on the grounds.   The paved path is just beyond the Center entrance, and is well marked.  Soon the trail exits the town, and around mile marker 3, there is the beginnings of Dugger Mountain to the right, one of the higher mountains of the region





Soon the ride transitions from open fields to  long stretches of shade and bridges crossing small streams that feed the Coosa River.   At one of these lovely wooden bridges is a post about the Red Eye Bass. 





This bass is unique to the area, and while peddling by, some fish   (maybe a bass), can be seen as the water is very clear.  As seen on the sign, Alabama has ongoing conservation efforts for the bass and the surrounding area.







The endpoint of this portion of the trail is the state line with accompanying signs.  Make sure to take a picture from both states, to support your bragging rights about peddling through two states.


Once back in Piedmont, stop by the Dugger Mountain Fudge and Coffee Company. Lots of  calories have been burned, so a piece of fudge is a well deserved treat!  One favorite snack is the Turtle, full of pecans and creamy caramel.

SO, for the EATING portion of Eating and Ebiking,   as inspired by the streams and  Red Eye Bass, see the savory fish recipe below.  It works for any mild, fleshy fish, from bass to salmon.  Its very easy, too.  As an ode to the Red Eye Bass, key to the recipe is Smoked Paprika.


2  8 oz. fish filets  ( sea bass, salmon, tilapia, cod will work)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil  and Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika- ( I like the Spice Island brand for this, its really good!)

Mikes Hot Honey ( optional)    Lemon Juice ( optional)


Tear off aluminum foil to make “ pockets” for each piece of fish

Spray the foil with Olive Oil Cooking Spray, set aside.   Pat each piece of fish dry with a paper towel, then with skin side down ( if there is a skin side), place fillet in center of foil.  Pour about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on the fish, and gently rub all flesh sides with the oil.  Here, you can go ahead and raise the sides of foil to make a rectangular “box” around the fillet.

Next, after hands are washed,  use a clean fork to “stab” the fillets ( gently), so as to assist the seasonings to penetrate the fish flesh.    Then, generously cover all flesh sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. “Eyeball” the seasonings; no measurements are needed.  Just remember to season bit heavier than normal, especially if the filet is thick.

Finally,  CONSIDER one or BOTH: Drizzle the filet with Mikes Hot Honey, and or, pour about 1 tablespoon lemon juice over the fish.  Both can be done as the products work well together!


Finish pulling the sides of the foil together, and crimp the sides so the fish is sealed in a type of a pocket.  Please foil packs on a pizza pan and place in a preset 350 degree  oven.  The fish will bake about 20-25 minutes, and is done at 145 degrees F, measuring at the fillets most thick portion.   It is worth it to have an oven thermometer with a long cord attached to the probe.

Bobs Red Mill Polenta, supplemented with butter and green onions, goes well with the fish.  Add some steamed broccoli, and the meal is complete.   Please add any comments if you try this SIMPLE recipe.




Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Downtown Birmingham

April 5, 2023


Railroad Park to Sloss Furnace, via Rotary Trail

This is a very easy, flat ride, perfect for a beginner ebiker: the battery is not really needed!

Begin at Railroad Park where there is free car parking on the weekend! Railroad Park features lovely greenspace and perfect spots to watch trains. Two laps equal about one mile, so cruise around a few times to get “warmed up”. Note the entry signage that explains some of the history of the Park and how important railroads were to the transformation of Birmingham AL.

Next, head out down 1st Ave South , along the Rotary Trail in the Magic City.  Follow the trail through a reinvigorated, safe downtown, passing the Alabama Ballet School. It is about a two mile ride to Sloss Furnace. 

Take a break and park at the Sloss Furnace Visitor Center. There is a short film inside the Center which is quite interesting. It discusses the beginnings of Birmingham, the economic boom of Birmingham’s “Magic” which created pig iron, and the draw of railroads to Birmingham which helped transform the city. After the film, do the self guided tour of this National Landmark and appreciate Birmingham’s  past.

DETOUR: After seeing Sloss,  and pedaling about 4 miles, a snack is earned!

2 blocks off of Rotary Trail, on 25th Street North, is a fabulous shop, Junes Coffee. The smell of the coffee alone promises a tasty caffeine boost! Try out the Orange Fig Coffee- its sweet, strong, but not bitter, and has just a hint of orange to appreciate. The massive ham croissant they offer is good, too, and easily serves two.

Now: for the EATING part of  Eating and Ebiking:  The flavorful coffee at Junes inspired Orange Fig Irish Soda Bread Muffins. It’s a basic irish soda bread recipe with orange juice, fig preserves incorporated and baked in a muffin tin. My guess is one muffin equals the calories burned on this ride! 


As inspired by June Coffee:

Orange and Fig Irish Soda Bread Muffins

( can be cooked in Bread Form in iron skillet, or loaf pan, but I have put them in muffin tin to make sure I have some form of portion control)

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup Kerrygold Irish Butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg

Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 oranges

1/8 to ¼ cup orange juice- this may or may not be needed

6-8 tablespoons fig preserves ( I like Bonne Maman)

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in egg that has been mixed with a fork in a cup.

Add in buttermilk, butter and stir with the dry ingredients. Add zest, fresh juice, and fig preserves.

All ingredients are incorporated into rather sticky dough; if looks like still some dry ingredients not fully incorporated, add the extra orange juice

Grease hands w/ bit of oil or butter, turn dough to form ball and put in greased skillet or into greased loaf pan or fill muffin tins about ¾ full ( muffin tin needs to be well greased as well- baking spray works best)

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees and if in muffin form, bake about 20 minutes. Other forms may take up to 45 min- check after 30 minutes with toothpick. Its done when toothpick comes out clean.

Finally, this muffin/bread is best eaten with irish butter and coffee or hot tea.

I hope it works for you; please add comments you may have that will improve the recipe! 

Chief Ladiga Trail

  CHIEF LADIGA:   PIEDMONT AL to GA STATE LINE   Today’s ride features the Chief Ladiga Trail, one of the most popular “Rails to Tra...