Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gunnar Roadie - Riding to "The Old Radar Base"

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Poor ole' Joe by the Gunnar Roadie
Many of my favorite rides in years past have been through or near the Union Cross area. While trying to decide on my route for a bicycle ride this afternoon "The Old Radar Base" came to mind.  It is actually a Forsyth County park that is best known for it's two nice softball fields. It was cold with an expected high temperature of 50 degrees today, so I waited until around 2:00 PM to head out on the Gunnar Roadie. 

Working out my route was a little tricky. Many of the roads, I used to ride on when going in this direction, have much heavier automobile traffic than they did 20 years ago. It wasn't a very direct route that I took, but I figured out a fairly safe way to get there. 

The ride there was surprisingly fast. I looked down at my computer to see that I was cruising along fairly effortless at around 20 mph much of the ride to "The Old Radar Base". The last stretch of road before reaching the park is flat and straight. I was flying along and thinking to myself that it doesn't seem as if the road is going down hill. At this point I started to look around for something that would indicate the direction of the wind. Sure enough, I passed by a flag in front of a building that was waving in the direction I was going. I hadn't noticed much wind when I first started out, but now it was blowing steady at my back. This meant my ride home would be straight into a headwind. 

When I arrived at the mostly empty park I wound my around on paved walking paths through the tennis courts, basketball courts and parking lots in the direction of the cement radar tower. I wanted to check out the park and also get an up-close look at the tower. It's a five story cement building. 

I read up on the history of the park before leaving on my ride. I found a little bit about "The Old Radar Base" on the parks web site. Below is the history of  Union Cross Park taken directly form the park's site:

Union Cross Park was once a self-contained community. It was staffed and operated by the United States Air Force. The Union Cross Radar Station was built in the 1950's as a surveillance post. The site included a NCO Club, several miscellaneous buildings, a lighted softball field, 1 tennis court and a 5-story concrete radar tower, visible for several miles in all directions.

The property was abandoned by the Air Force and Forsyth County petitioned the Department of Interior to transfer ownership of the land to the County for public recreation purposes. On April 5, 1974, Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department received its first public park.

Because of its dilapidated condition from abandonment, the site underwent an immediate clean up and face-lift. Unusable structures were removed and salvageable recreation facilities were repaired. In the late 70's, the park underwent extensive development of new facilities with the help of funding from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. Today, Union Cross Park is a fully developed park and well used by its patrons.

There were just a couple of cars parked about when I arrived at the park. The skies were clear and the sun was shinning, but it was cold and windy. A couple of teenagers were bundled up and trying to play basketball and a fellow was walking a small dog. I rode the Gunnar Roadie around inside the park and checked it out some. After riding around the big cement radar tower and taking a couple of pictures.  I ate a banana and found the restrooms before starting my ride back home. I suspected I would be battling a headwind most of the way back and that's the way the ride went. Traffic was heavier on the way back home also. I just keep plugging along and tried to enjoy the ride. Once again I made it in just before sunset. 

There are great roads to ride on around the Union Cross area of North Carolina. I hope to include them on a ride in the near future. Hopefully I will have a little more time to spend on the bike next time. My ride to the Union Cross Park and back ended up being a distance of approximately 41 miles. 

For more information on Union Cross Park click here.

I stopped to take a picture of this spotted horse and a donkey in a pasture beside Friendship Ledford  Road  in Davidson County. It's hard to see because of the sun, but the horse has spots that remind me of a dalmatian dog. There were also a couple of Lamas in the pasture.

The old Radar Tower at Union Cross Park
This picture of the tower was taken around 1967.
The sail on top is no longer there.
Gunnar Roadie leaning up against the radar tower

The picnic shelter at the park has a capacity of 90 people.
There are picnic tables and grills scattered around the park.

The park is a maze of  athletic fields.

The park has clean heated restrooms that were open on Sunday afternoon!

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