Monday, August 23, 2010

What Do You Mean, "Closed?"

After letting Max Watzz race on Saturday, RandoGirl and I needed a recovery ride. Since we were driving back from Oak Ridge, just north of Knoxville, we decided to ride the "lower loop" of my new Honest Abe 200K permanent. Frankly, I just wanted to show off to RandoGirl how pretty the route was, and how nice the roads were.

Well, we all heard about the rain and flooding the past couple of weeks, but I had no idea that it had hit the area north of Cookeville quite this much. The roads were fine, until we came down the descent on Knight Church Road.

It's really weird to see this, because it had been almost exactly two weeks since Jeff Bauer and I had gone over this same stretch with no problems.

What a difference 15 days can make!

Fortunately, I had a GPS with me. We backtracked up the steep road half a mile, turned left, and eventually got back to Hwy 135. Everything seemed fine there, until we came down off the plateau and found where the fields along the river there had also flooded.

It didn't look as if many of them had been planted, but I heard later that one home had been destroyed. The high water mark was somewhat evident from the flooded signs.

Part of Hwy 135 had been damaged enough to where they had laid down some gravel, which made for exciting cycling. As you can tell from the blue skies and light fluffy clouds, however, the weather was great for us, with a little less heat and humidity than we've been "enjoying" for the past few weeks in Nashville.

RandoGirl was really impressed with the sections of this road past the flood, particularly where it cuts into the edge of the cliff. With the river running alongside our right and the layered rock on our left, we were shady and cool as we headed towards Gainesboro. There, we stopped at the Dairy Queen for ice cream, answering the usual questions from some of the other customers about where we were going and how far we had come. One of the great things about riding a bicycle in this area is that you are enough of an anomaly that cars give you good clearance, with a friendly wave and a kindly attitude.

Since we were just doing the southern 100K, we did not continue on up to Kentucky and then back to Celina, but instead went right to the long climb out of town.

I was looking forward to showing RandoGirl the little town of Granville, and stopping at the T. B. Sutton General Store for ice cream again (now you can tell why I suffer so badly at races in places like Oak Ridge). After working our way over the ridge, we zipped along towards Flynn's Creek.

I think this is the Happy Goat House.

Of course, just past Flynn's Creek is another long climb, but it still had some shade in spite of the late afternoon hour. Soon we were in Granville, which RandoGirl agreed was darling. Her excitement was slightly tempered, however, by the revelation that the T. B. Sutton General Store was closed on Sunday.

We rested a few minutes on the store's shady front porch, shared our ice and water so that we each had one full cold bottle, and then started up Hwy 96. This road is almost a mirror image of Hwy 135, and it appeared that they had seen a bit of flooding recently, too. The roads were still clear, though, and we soon got to the mile and a half climb -- again, very shady -- just before Hwy 70. We bought a few more fluids at the store there, and then headed out on the last few miles towards Baxter.

Coming down 1st Street there, we found one last reminder of the flooding.

We were able to portage past this, though, with no more problems than getting mud in our shoe cleats.

From the look of things, 1st Street will probably be as good as new in a month or so, but I'm going to have to change the permanent routing on Knight Church. It was kind of a rough road before, and did not seem exactly "beloved" by the county, so maybe this is for the best.

In the mean time, maybe we should all expect the unexpected any time we go rambling down a new road ... or one we haven't been on in the last few days.


  1. What a difference 15 days can make!

  2. It's a great route. I hope the roads improve quickly so we can enjoy a pleasant 200K soon.