I’m in Tennessee now ! I’ve hit some small waves of the Appalachians in a shorter but harder ride… with another flat.
First things first, I didn’t get any rain. It was planned, especially at the end of the ride. I finally bought some flip flops, not as a change, but to ride under the rain. But I didn’t get to try them. Maybe tomorrow ?
Leaving the Middlesboro crater meant going through the Cumberland Gap tunnel. Tunnel usually means no bike, but I didn’t see any warning from google map, nor anything on the road. Ok so let’s try it. I pass the last crossroad before the tunnel, no other direction left. No sign but for some tourist stuff. Okay maybe I can access it. I see the tunnel, get close, real close… and right at the entrance, the usual “prohibited” sign for bicycles and the other suspects. Darn. There’s a little trooper house, but it’s early, there’s no one, so I think maybe I’ll just put my back light on and sneak in. And right when I stop to prepare that, a state car stops by me ! The guy is going to scorn me for being there, for sure. But no, this is not France, I’m in the US ! “I’ll give you a ride across” Wow great ! Five minutes later I was on the other side by the Tennessee sign. Good start 🙂
For half of the way next it’s wave after wave of hills, up, down, up, down, mostly a rich green forest covering all that. Very nice part. Except when crossing the first bridge going down (so quite fast), I rode on top of a big metallic thing I didn’t notice. Oh man with such a bump and noise I’ll be lucky if I killed only one wheel. And sure enough, one hundred meters later my back wheel was flat again. That’s the first time I saw clearly that I was going to go down. My tube change didn’t last two days, but I expected it. I did a quick, messy job, I should have asked the guy at the bike shop to replace it. Anyway, this time around I went very carefully and made sure the tube was neatly placed in the wheel.
Half a mile later I spotted a bikeshop (right in the middle of nowhere) but it was closed :p
I continued riding through these small hills, not going very fast, but it didn’t matter. The views were nice, the shoulder was wide and gradually got less cluttered up, and there was gas stations now and then to refill. And today, no chance of getting lost !
The road got a bit flatter but there was the big climb of the day, about 1000 feet up, 300m, coming right up. It should be the only one of my detour, vs five or six on the TransAmerica. So there I went up, getting final views of Kentucky, and scratching 2k feet for the first time since Kansas.
At the top was a great view of lake Cherokee, beyond which was my stop. Still 20mis/30kms to go, even if it felt really close on the map.
The rest of the way hopped around the lake and there was indeed some distance left, confirming the map is not the territory.
Now I’m as south as I will ever be on the east coast, and starting tomorrow, I’ll only go north, for about 15 more days of riding.