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.|