We were up early this morning and eager to get on the road…by 7:15 we were packed and ready and on our bikes, and rode downtown to drop off the key to our lovely little AirBNB at a shop owned by our hosts. It felt SO GOOD to be out in the cool morning air, riding fast after two rest days, and we left town on Highway 79 on a big hill that led to Lover’s Leap,
This was the best biking day so far: it was overcast and cool, and beautiful, and the route took us through small towns and big farms with white fences and old trees and cattle in the fields, and up and down long hills that were slow to ascend but glorious to descend (we maxed out at 30 MPH on one). All day I was smelling honeysuckle, which lined the road in wild places, and it was sort of intoxicating.
It was our first day being chased by dogs and all we had to do was yell “Bad dog, go home!” and they stopped and looked guilty, which was a relief. It was also the first day that someone rolled down their car window and asked if we needed cold water or anything else. The traffic was light, and we felt great.
A lunchtime stop in Clarksville gave us a chance to watch a barge navigate into the lock and dam, and we continued on through the hills. At some point Dan looked at my rear tire and noticed that it was losing air (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) after we had traveled about 60 miles, and we went a little further and inflated it and made it into Troy, for a total of 77 miles.
I had called REI yesterday morning after discovering the last flat tire, asking if there was some sort of design flaw in my one-year-old REI Co-op bike that would help us to figure out why this keeps happening, as it is designed to carry 250 lbs with gear and rider and we are way under that limit. Someone from the product team emailed me today with some suggestions about what to look for and do, and I called him after we got to our hotel. His colleague Cathy was on the phone with us for about half an hour, and after reviewing options. we decided that a good course of action would be to go back to a 48mm tire on the back of my bike (the original size – we installed 42mm tires before going to Duluth on a bikepacking trip last fall.) So guess where we are headed tomorrow morning: the next town with a bike shop!!! We may change our blog name to “Bike Shops along the MRT” as a public service.
While we were walking to dinner across the other side of the highway, Dan remarked on his emerging biking shorts tan lines. Which will be getting more pronounced as we continue on.
Our total elevation gain today, that is, the distance we climbed, was 5,000 feet. That’s a lot. That’s like riding in the mountains. We had to walk those loaded bikes up a few of those hills; and no apologies here! Our pride got lost a few days ago.
We are thinking about ways we might make this a little easier on us. And still do the job, and get to New Orleans in time for our flight home. More on that later.