I designed a 200K permanent over two years ago named Brimstone Creek. Technically, nobody has ever ridden it.
We tried. Right after RUSA approved it we went out to Cookeville, TN, to ride it, but the bridge was out and we had to take an alternative way. We got credit for it, but were not able to do it as designed.
When we moved back here from Florida in September, I looked at the Tennessee Department of Transportation website and saw that the bridge was due to be completed in October. Since the long section of gravel makes this a permanent best done with a long day -- plus the fact that all of the tree canopy makes it best on a warm day -- I decided to wait until Spring.
But Spring has been slow to come this year, and very wet. It finally got warm enough this past weekend, and the early weather report called for a fairly dry Sunday, so Jeff Bauer, Alan Gosart, and I drove out to Cookeville again early that morning.
And Spring decided to be wet again.
But, hey, we're flexible. We decided to start a little later than 7 am, and went to get breakfast. Still raining, we dawdled for a while over coffee. When it was still raining at 8:30 am, we decided that maybe we should test-ride another route that I've been mulling ...
The Ring of Fire Populaire.
Basically, it's just the middle 65 miles of the Brimstone Creek 200K. I'm going to call it Ring of Fire because there are a bunch of signs that Tennessee put up on the major roads of the route saying that you are now on the Ring of Fire trail ... whatever the heck that is.
We drove up to Gainesboro, parking at the grocery store there, and then headed onto the route. It was still drizzling on us as we turned on Big Bottom Road -- which is nice, quiet, and paved. You know that the road has turned into Brimstone Creek when the pavement ends.
Still, it was pretty smooth and mostly rut-free stuff -- what my Dad used to call "crusher run." We slowed down a bunch, since there was enough loose stuff to mess you up. And the road, itself, messed us up (I now have a filthy bike that I've got to clean some day this week).
Best of all, when we got to the bridge ... well, there was a bridge again.
It even had already been decorated.
So, for the first time in over two years, we were able to ride Brimstone Creek Road all the way up to where the pavement comes back. The pavement celebrates its return by kicking up its heels ... with a really nasty climb.
We stopped briefly at the little store in Moss, TN, then made fast work of the stretch down to Celina. From there, we headed east on Highway 52. This road has seen some huge changes since the last time we went this way.
What you can't see here is that this spot is just past another tough little climb. I think that this new section will eventually connect up to Celina, so we could come up this way instead. Sure, it's a four-lane, but the shoulder is huge, smooth, and has no rumble strips. If they keep it that way, and if the grade down is as gradual here as it seems, this will make this route a piece of cake.
Eventually, we turn off Highway 52 and go into Standing Stone State Park. The road through here is quiet, but has a quick little downhill followed by another tough climb. The up and down kind of continues through the park and the farms beyond, until you get to the control at the little store in Hilham ...
Which was closed.
Everybody there now has to go to the WalMart in Livingston. Apparently, that's the American Way.