Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Changes - Ain't Entropy a Bitch?

You don't get a lot of days like Sunday in middle Tennessee in September: Just a touch of wind in a clear blue sky, with temperatures starting about 60 and barely tickling 80 come the afternoon. If you ever needed a message from the Powers That Be to go for a ride, Sunday was it.

Since I had all day and nobody to ride with, I decided this would be a good chance to see what had changed on some roads that I haven't visited since our return to Tennessee. For starters, I headed to the new Einstein Brothers just south of Hwy 96, near I-65.

It was just as tasty as my old Einstein Brothers down in Naples, but the busy roads made the trip rather hazardous. Since it was just after sunrise on a Sunday morning, this did not bode well. From there, I went through downtown Franklin and south on Carter's Creek Pike to Leiper's Fork. These areas were still quiet, and I began to feel better again.

Having spent Saturday supporting the Femme Fondo ride in this area, I considered just doing the metric route that the ladies had enjoyed the day before. As it was still a little chilly, however, I instead opted for the sunshine on the Natchez Trace.

Other than the new bridge for Hwy 840, the Trace seemed about the same since the last time I had ridden there. Some fields that had been just grass now had corn ...

... and there still seemed to be plenty of wild turkeys about.

The Park Service has also put up fancy new signs.

Eventually, I got to Hwy 412, which turns off towards Hohenwald. The Trace bridge there is being replaced, so I decided to limit my ride to just Tennessee, and got off the Trace there.

Apparently, this project also has them widening Hwy 412. This will be good when it's finished ... particularly if they keep the shoulders wide for those of us who regularly use this piece of pavement on brevets.

I started back north by turning onto Ridgetop Road. For those of you who haven't come up Ridgetop Road from this side (which is just about everybody by RandoGirl and me), let me tell you: It's steep. It hurts. Fortunately, this gets you up most of the climb rather quickly, so you can then enjoy a nice easy 2-3% grade.

After a couple of miles of this, you turn left onto one of my favorite roads in the world: Cathey's Creek Road. I like this road so much I designed a permanent to use it. My friends Lynn and Vida Greer like it so much that they put it on their Gran Fondo route.

The beauty of this road is that the pavement is perfect, and the descent is straightforward and nicely shaded. There's one spot where you may want to touch your brakes a bit, and then it's just easy rolling for miles and miles. It's also a very empty stretch of road ... just you and the cows in fields of clover.

And, of course, a creek runs by it.

Eventually, I turned onto Stephenson Schoolhouse Road, where church was just letting out. I think that this is the first time that I have ever biked past that church when there were services, and folks were just as nice as could be.

The same dogs that have chased me for years were still at the house just past the top of Love's Branch Road. As I started down the hill, the little brown one shot like a rocket out from under the porch, and I had to sprint hard to beat him on his intercept course.

Which just goes to show that some changes could be good.

I stopped at the store in Williamsport. With 80 miles in by then, I needed to just sit and eat a bag of chips. Fortunately, that store hasn't changed much, and they still have some of the best shade around.

Opting for the short, painful way back, I continued up Snow Creek Road. Just before Theta, the pavement tilts up a bit, but it shaved off a couple of miles. Then I went and screwed it all up by turning on Fairview Road rather than just taking Les Robinson all the way to Carter's Creek. I did this because I know that the shoulder on Carter's Creek is rumbled down that way. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to climb back up to Mobley's Cut, then descend and climb Bear Creek.

All in all, I'd have to say that the area hasn't changed much in the year that I was gone. I just wish that I could say the same for my legs, since they seem to have forgotten how to climb.

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