Day Fifteen: Grand Rivers to Dover, Tennessee

Yesterday was hard – long miles, heat, hills and even with an early start, it was long. Lisa wrote of it yesterday but there is one thing I wanted to describe for you. We’d ridden forty miles with no services and we were really looking forward to pulling into the little town of Smithland which was supposed to have a restaurant. I think we’ve learned how important it is just to get cool quickly when we are overheated. But we didn’t see a restaurant, just a little (old) gas station/grocery store. Good enough. We walked in and looked around at our options (slowly, because it was cool.) The usual convenience store foods were there, but we also saw a meat counter/deli where they made sandwiches. While Lisa got a lemonade slushy, I ordered a sandwich – Kentucky ham and Swiss cheese on wheat with lettuce, tomato and mayo. I grabbed a couple bottles of water and some chips and then showed the map of our final 20 miles to the guys at the counter – I wanted to ask about a shortcut.

Then my very beautiful sandwich was done and I asked the guys if we could sit in the back room. “Sure, just watch out for the old men, they can get crotchety,” and I thought ‘well I am one, too, so bring it on.’

We went back and sat down among four old guys and one older lady. Now, we look pretty weird with the bike shorts and jerseys. Everyone stares when we come to town. And some start talking to us. As we ate, we had a wonderful conversation with the gang. At one point a guy said “well, I’ve been here since 1:00, I suppose she is wondering where I am.” It was nearing 4:00.

We left with all their good wishes, piled on top of the many, many wishes and prayers and blessings we’ve received from friends, family and so many strangers. As we rode out of Smithland (up a steep hill, natch) a woman rolled down her window and yelled at Lisa “you go, girl!”

Today’s ride, while hilly, was only 50 miles and felt almost restful, down the Woodlands Trace between silent forests, under blue skies with temps in the low 80’s. We even stopped for sightseeing (a complete 1850’s farm, a visitors center, and a herd of buffalo.)

In Dover before 3:00, we got a small cabin by a pool and it almost feels like vacation. Lisa is sleeping on a chaise beside me. The only clue that we are not at a Mexican resort is the ubiquitous turkey vultures soaring in circles overhead.

Tomorrow, like every tomorrow, is full of unknowns – how bad will the hills be? How bad the roads and the traffic? Can we do it? I’m working to think only of this moment and I’d like to tell you I’m getting there, but I have more work to do.

Tonight we had a long talk about how it is going and Lisa eased my worries and we made more arrangements for the Natchez Trace, which is both beautiful and logistically complicated on a bike.

I could never do this alone, and probably wouldn’t have made it far without Lisa – she is an amazing partner who eases my mind and also really blasts down hills.

7 thoughts on “Day Fifteen: Grand Rivers to Dover, Tennessee

  1. John and I are thinking that when you do this again, we’ll be your equipment & supply drivers. Then again, you don’t seem to need us. While it might seem to you from one minute to the next that your success is uncertain, to me it seems like you’re unstoppable (especially Lisa!)

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  2. About that there solar collector strapped on top of your pannier there, pardner…what does it do…? Help you start fires…? Keep your socks warm…? Grill your hot dogs…? (Seriously – I’m guessing you’re using that to charge various phones, computers, GPS devices? Maybe…?)

    Lots of green in these pictures today. Sort of fresh!

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    • We borrowed it from a friend and it is great. It charges a battery pack and it has two USB ports for cables to charge phones. With al the sun we’ve had the battery is always full, so I’m the middle of nowhere, we can charge up the phones…which get depleted more quickly for some reason here than hanging around home. They are working harder, too.

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