Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Getting There With Help From the Ladies

I was a little worried about this day. It was long – 70 miles – and I wouldn't be able to get on the road until my train, the Music City Star, got in to Lebanon. I even plotted a fallback course, and put it in the GPS, where I could stop for the night at Roaring River State Park in Gainesboro.

But a couple of ladies helped me out.

First was RandoGirl, who I really don't thank enough. Although we've got a lot going on in Nashville, she let me disappear into the wilderness for a week, wasting a week of vacation that I probably should be spending with her, while she keeps the home fires burning. I not could not do this stuff without her, I probably would not be alive today -- or at least sufficiently healthy enough -- to do it, since she was one of the big motivators for me getting fit 12 years ago, and one of the big reasons that I stay fit today. I like the way that she tells about my exploits, and how she admires the lovely curve of my muscular calves.

She's also fun to ride with, and I wish that she could have come with me this week. Instead, I try to remember things that I've seen and take pictures, mostly so that I can eventually share them with her. I often write this blog just with her in mind, and the blog posts this week are just that.

So, in addition to all of this support, RandoGirl got up this morning before sunrise and drove me into downtown Nashville. She did this so that I wouldn't have to ride 90 miles today rather than just 70 -- 20 of them in pre-dawn commuter traffic. She also did this just because she was going to miss me this week.

After all of this help, another lady popped up when Mother Nature lent a hand.

First, the temperature was perfect. I left the train station wearing a jacket and knee warmers, but removed them less than an hour later. I would then be a little chilly in the shadows, but just right on the long climbs.

Second, the wind was strong and out of the east most of the day, shifting north during the afternoon. It pushed me quickly along on the flat sections (of which there were rather few), but also gave me a hand on the climbs.

Originally, I meant to grab some breakfast in Nashville before getting on the train. I had my ticket 45 minutes before departure, but as I poked around down by the park and up Broadway, I never saw anything that interested me. My plan to then get something in Lebanon ended up with me scarfing a candy bar and filling a bottle with a Vitamin Water.

But I knew that the route had me in Carthage within 20 miles, so I just plodded on. Somehow, I never really saw “downtown” Carthage – which may be a good thing, if I meant to avoid traffic and cars.  But it meant I was still hungry as I climbed 70 on to the ridge at Chestnut Mound.

There, I turned onto the less busy TN-53 towards Granville, stopping again at the market there for more drinks, plus a Diet Coke and an oatmeal Little Debbie. That got me over the next couple of bumps, and I was rolling into Gainesboro before 1 pm.

After a double cheeseburger with fries from the Dairy Queen, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up dinner for tonight and breakfast for tomorrow. The extra weight should not have felt like much as I continued on TN-85 up the long climb towards Hilham, but it nonetheless did. About 15 miles later, I stopped briefly at the Hilham store, only to discover that it has closed. This is a serious bummer, since we use this store as a control on some routes. Fortunately, I had not counted on it for my groceries, so I rolled on.

Five rolling miles with one steep climb later, I got to Standing Stone State Park. After checking in, I found a good campsite (there was only me and one RV there), set everything up, grabbed a shower, and had a sumptious dinner prepared by a famous European chef.

Tomorrow is a little shorter, but just as hilly. I'm heading into Kentucky, so maybe the wind will turn about and come out of the south. If not, I'm very grateful to have seen such incredible beautiful, celebrating another day of living.