Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 2....Sparta TN to Harriman, TN

60.19 miles in about 5:35... (2043.08 miles for the trip over 26 days averages out to 78.58 miles a day) ascent..  2966 ft (44,746 ft for trip)
Looking at the above numbers, they are amazingly similar to the trip to Pittsburgh last year. Ascent is about the same and mileage is just a little but less. I averaged 87 miles a day on that trip because Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio was a track meet. Flat and a tailwind so I rode 9 days in a row over 90 miles at the end. That's not gonna happen this year. My most challenging climbs are ahead of me, and I have 600 more miles to go, so this ride will play out to be a greater challenge than the trip to Pittsburgh, which took 26 days.
In the final analysis, today was a success, even though I only rode 60 miles. For starters, the forecasters were calling for rain and severe storms ALL DAY. In actuality, the rain didn't catch up to me until I had been riding for four hours, then it broke until I was 10 minutes from one of the three motels I had picked out over various distances, planning for every eventuality. When I left John's house in Nashville, I knew I had to average 65 miles a day to get to the outer banks within my time frame. Yesterday was a big day, and I nearly covered that today, so I'm okay. Cold weather and the Smokey Mountains are ahead, so I'm going to be working through some challenges.
Speaking of challenges, today I left Sparta, and got smacked with a 1000 ft climb over 6 miles right on the east end of town, on US 70. A great way to get my legs warmed up! I had not thought about how I love the mountain scenery for a while, but I love the waterfalls, the streams, the rocks, the views, and the trees. The only thing I wasn't a big fan of today was... Gravity. My legs are fine, but I'm really taking the climbs in my granny gear. Last fall I took my bike to Wamsley Cycles in Morgan town, and spent a lot of money to have them change out the sprockets to get my old legs some easier gears. I haven't been happy with the new gears' rough changing, but this is what I bought them for.
The big climb was by far the rough part of the day, and once I got up on the plateau, I was up to elevations over 1800 ft. It was rolling with plenty of big descents, and the corresponding climbs.
I only passed through one decent size town, but when the first thunderstorms hit, around 12:30, I was in a little dot on the map called Crab Orchard, and I found a scale building at a landscape rock sales place, to stow away in, for about 15 minutes. When I resumed, there was a 20 mile stretch of beautiful isolation, with cliffs and waterfalls, and out there somewhere, the eastern time zone cost me an hour. Towards the end of the ride, I descended a lot, down into Rockwood, and saw the rain coming in my rear view mirror. I finished the ride with a five mile sprint on level terrain with a tailwind, and steadily increasing rain, to a Rodeway Inn, very near I 40. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to clear off, so the plan changed from stopping near Knoxville, to getting quite a way past it.

Wildcat Falls....On the "big" climb

A close up of the falls

Sunset rock, at the scenic overlook at the top of the climb

I didn't think I was that close to home!!!

The little building where I took cover from the first thunderstorm that got me

I knew exactly where I lost my hour!

The creek which separated the time zones.  It looked like so many others that I saw in every hollow.

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