Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seven Counties in a Day

84.5 Miles - McMinnville, TN to Cleveland, TN

While the day was significantly better than yesterday, it was still overcast and chilly. And while it was Veterans Day, there wasn’t much in the way of normal workday traffic on my way out of town.

It wasn’t long until I hit the mountains; not the hills that I had been riding, but legitimate mountains. I used my full compliment of gears during the day. Up until this point I didn’t have to use my lowest gear but it got a workout today. That being said I also spent a fair bit of time in my highest gear when I got to bomb down the back side of mountains. There was one particular mountain that I flew the four miles down in under seven minutes. That was good as it took me 24 minutes to climb the four miles up. I knew it was going to be a long climb when I looked up and saw the road switching back above me. It took me some time to get in to a rhythm climbing again, but I did.

I had my first dog race of the trip just after coming down a mountain to a valley. I was thinking that it would be a great photo of the cows in the green pasture and the mountains in the background. Just them I heard a couple of dogs charging behind me. I had to expend more energy than I particularly cared to, but I didn’t get bitten.

It seems that the road conditions change on a county by county basis and the tax receipts collected by them. For the most part, the roads in Tennessee have been relatively smooth; the only variation is what if any shoulder is available. I did pedal through seven of Tennessee’s 95 counties today. It seems that on average each county is about 350 square miles. When I snuck into the final county of the day I also passed into the Eastern Time Zone. It could have been worse. When I rode from Los Angeles to New York and crossed over to the Eastern Time Zone I nearly simultaneously lost an hour for daylight savings time. You can read about it here.

I also crossed the Tennessee River for the second time of the trip, this time at Blythe Ferry. Historically the ferry was an important link between Chattanooga, TN and Knoxville, TN. I consciously made the decision to ride north of Chattanooga and south of Knoxville so that I didn’t have to deal with the city traffic surrounding them.

The last 20 miles of the day I had the welcome change of some help from the wind. It is also all coming back to me that most towns are in a valley, meaning that I get to coast into town, but start the following morning with a climb.

I also realized that it is also sometimes easier when there is only one hotel in town. I tend to take more time than I really should to find a hotel for the night. All that I am looking for is a clean room, a hot shower and a bed. Wi-Fi, breakfast, a hot-tub and close proximity to some good food are also considerations, but I have to stop over thinking it. So here I am in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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