I wasn't long out of Waverley, before I realized the topography was about to change. Western Tennessee was a little flatter than I had imagined, but things were about to get serious. All told for the day, my ascent was the third biggest of the trip, exceeded only by the climb out of Tuscon on the third day, and the mega climbing day into the Guadeloupe mountains. The first 23 miles were on US 70, and it was the same old thing. Pretty heavy traffic, rumble strips for shoulders, no guard rails ( with some really steep landing spots if I went off the road), and tons of armadillo shell shrapnel. The shells obviously don't decompose as fast as the meat, and they were everywhere, as a monument to how stupid those animals must be. The forecasted rain looked like it was going to hold off, so I has no sense if urgency to complete my days trip. My final destination was to be the home of my best man(twice), John Hamm and his family, near Nashville. He had commitments to work, so I didn't want to roll in too early, and that was just fine for my legs. I kept a casual pace on the climbs and just did what I had to do. That really didn't keep my quads from getting tenderized as the day went on, however.
Once I got to Dickson, the most sizable town on my trip, it was time to leave the familiar shoulder less confines of US 70, and I was at the mercy of GPS girl. I was taking some pretty back roads, with quite a few dogs that didn't know what to do with me, just like the people. Some looked, some ran away, some gave me a half hearted southern token bark, but many joined me running down the road. I only pulled my defense out of the case once, and I was really torn as to whether to use it or not. The devil in my right shoulder was saying "go ahead, blast him," and the angel on my other shoulder was saying " you know u can outrun this guy, just pedal a little harder." I came this close to letting him have it, but I just accelerated, and left him barking at air.
The recurring roadway that I kept coming back to after every GPS foray down a hollow, was TN 96. I paralleled I 40 for a short while, but it kept me in the climbing business in the middle portion of my trip. GPS girl took me down two major hollers, and the climbs back out if them were as brutal as...no.....more brutal, than any climbs of the trip. But that's what u expect in Tennessee. I just don't know if they were necessary if I had stayed on TN96.
With about 20-25 miles to go I made a major descent, and I passed a sign that said Nashville metro area. I was going so fast that I didn't even try to stop and get a picture. But everything changed. A bike lane appeared, and things flattened out. There were still some real good climbs to go, but they were long and manageable. I passed under what I believe was the northern terminus of the Natchez trace freeway, which is a limited access Highway for tourists and bikers to Natchez, Mississippi. I think I read that it was 444 miles long, and it is an adventure cycling assn tour that is advertised. Finally, signs of a biking culture if some sort. As I came into Franklin, a bedroom suburb of Nashville, then Brentwood, where John lives, Friday afternoon traffic was picking up, and there was one really bad road with a steep climb on tenderized legs, no shoulder, and a significant line of traffic behind me as I muscled my way over the top. Everyone was courteous, however. The only thing screaming was my quads as I busted it over that final hill. McEwen Street, I believe. After that, for the last 3-4 miles I had a nice multi use path to ease me into John's neighborhood. He was there waiting. We figured we hadn't seen each other in 23 years. I spent the evening getting to know two of his three boys, Alex, the lacrosse player, and Erik, the golfer, as well as his wife, Katie (who I knew before) It was a great evening of catching up and reminiscing.
|Ribbons of rollers on US 70. The photo doesn't do justice to their steepness.|