Day 13 - Collinwood, TN (Fire Dept Building) to Lyles, TN (AirBnB) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

October 4, 2022

Day 13 - Collinwood, TN (Fire Dept Building) to Lyles, TN (AirBnB)

Goodbye Natchez Trace, Hello Tennessee Hills

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today;  4,172 ft            Cumulative;  23,942 ft

Roadkill Seen Today;     possum(4), squirrel(3), armadillo(2)                       
Cumulative; Hawk (2), Raccoon(2), Possum (11),  mouse (1), Squirrel (5),                                 Armadillo (3), bird (1), Coyote (1), unknown (2)

Found Money Today;     $0.01                    Cumulative; $0.31

Lodging Cost Today;     $75.54                   Cumulative; $991.37

Bad Drivers Today;       0                                 Cumulative;  8

Dog Chases Today;     1                                     Cumulative;  7

Average Speed Today; 9.6 mph                  Cumulative; 10.22 mph

Summary of Today's Ride; Mostly pleasant ride, Tennessee hills beat me down a bit.

Last night just after I turned out the light and was settled into my bed at the fire station in a windowless room, I heard someone moving around in the large room outside my door!  They used the bathroom beside my room and left, and I just hoped that it was a fireman or someone who was supposed to be there.  This morning right after the alarm went off at 04:30, I again heard someone and again they used the bathroom next to my sleeping room.  It was a little eerie, but I was up so I opened the door to my room and shortly after met the lady police officer who had been there both of those times.  She said she knew I was sleeping in the fire station so she tried to be quiet.  She works for the county and patrols the night shift by herself.

I dressed and packed quickly, left a thank you note, and rolled down to the Hasti-Mart which opened at 05:00.  There was a small group of guys sitting at the equivalent of the "Smart Table" for Collinwood, and as I was eating my breakfast one of them asked me if I was the guy who slept in the fire station last night.  He said he was on the Town Council and knew of me.  Seems as though most everybody knows everything that's going on in these small towns.  But I mean that in a good way.  

The timber industry is a major player in these parts, and with the construction boom of the last few years they are making lumber as fast as they can.

Logging Truck At 05:00 in Collinwood, TN
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I rolled out of Collinwood before 06:00, anxious to get started on what I knew was going to be a hard day.  It is getting cooler, noticeably so in the mornings, and my fingers got chilled even though I was wearing long-fingered leather gloves.  I may need to pick up a pair of thin cotton gloves to serve as a liner for those leather work gloves.  

I was rolling in the darkness once again, and I like it that way.  I watched the sun come up and the fields were foggy as the dew rose back into the air.  A deer bounded along in front of me showing me a white tail, and squirrels were scurrying all around shortly after sunrise. It was going to be a glorious day!

The Natchez Trace becomes hillier in Tennessee, because, you know, Tennessee is hillier.  And the hills have a plethora of beautiful streams flowing through their midst.

I Saw Lots Of Inviting Streams In The Tennessee Hills
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After a couple of hours of pedaling hills, I went off the Trace a bit to reach a little store.  They had a small kitchen operation and I had "second breakfast" of biscuits and gravy.  I was going to need some extra energy today.   But I still stopped at every exhibit, if only briefly.  The Meriwether Lewis National Monument is located adjacent to the Trace and I made a bit of a longer stop there.

Meriwether Lewis's Death Is Intriguing
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Mark BinghamI just read the Wiki article about his death... is IS very intriguing.
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1 year ago

"His life of romantic endeavor and lasting achievement came tragically and mysteriously to it's close..."  Makes you want to investigate that a bit.  There's a simple monument erected for him, and nearby is a replica of the Grinder house in which he died.  My bucket list includes riding the ACA's Lewis and Clark route and experiencing first-hand the topography that they had to overcome.   Maybe I'll do that one next?  Or not.  I view each tour I take as the one that could be my last.

I noticed that the terrain was getting into limestone bluffs and road cuts, and then came upon this informational placard explaining the phosphate mining that once occurred in these parts.

These Limestone Hills Once Had Phosphate Mines
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Up until today the grades had all been gentle enough that I haven't used the small chainwheel (for my non-cycling friends, that means I haven't used the low range of gears).  But that changed today when I climbed the hill after Swan Creek.  It was a low gear 3.7 mph climb and got my attention.  It wasn't actually the hardest climb of the day, but it served notice to me that things were going to be different.  I've ridden all the way from New Orleans in the big chainwheel, now it's time to let the little chainwheel do it's job. 

I met a Swiss couple today at one of the stops.  They rented a car on the east coast, were currently driving the Trace to New Orleans, then would eventually work their way out west and depart from Seattle.  So they were "doing America" as it were in one long trip.  Sounds like folks I know who "do Europe" in one condensed trip.  I don't think one fast-paced trip can really give you a feel for either place.  But maybe a 3-month bicycle trip can go a long way towards letting someone get a feel for the country and the people.  Just sayin', that's all.

Some of the hills are opening up to allow a view of the valleys below.

View Of The Valley From Baker Bluff
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The Natchez Trace is 444 miles long from end to end, and each mile is marked with a milepost.  I started at MP 0 and have ridden to MP 408, so I have ridden all but 36 miles of the Trace.  I must exit at MP 408 to follow the Great Rivers South route and skirt around the busy Nashville metroplex.  I'm going to miss the very relaxed (with only 2 exceptions) riding found on the Trace.

So Long Natchez Trace, I'm Going To Miss You
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When I exited the Trace I was getting pretty tired.  It was 14:00 and I had ridden a few hills today and had been at it since before 06:00.  And this was Day 8 of a 9-day run and I was just wearing out.  After exiting the Trace, I immediately began climbing even more hills on the Tennessee highways.  At Duck River I just had to have a break, so I got some ice cream at a Dollar General and set down in the shade on their sidewalk to rest a wee bit.  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do even if it means plopping down on the sidewalk in front of a Dollar General store.

Ice Cream Sandwich Break On The Sidewalk Of The Dollar General In Duck River, TN
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As I was leaving the Dollar General store with my ice cream, I spotted a penny inside the store by the exit door.  They probably thought I was a hobo or homeless person as I bent down and retrieved the penny, but the "found money" game isn't going so well on this tour and I need more found money if I'm going to get that celebratory coffee in Muscatine. 

It was a hard labor to ride the surprisingly steep hills between Duck River and my AirBnB rental, and I was really beat when I arrived.  I found this little guy waiting on me at the front steps and exercised a bit of caution as I watched him.

This Little Guy Held My Attention For A Spell
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He never moved and then I realized he's not real.  But he had me going for a while.  This AirBnB is a house on a highway sort of in the middle of nowhere, and it's nicely equipped for my needs.

The AirBnB Is Well-Equipped For A Cycle Tourist
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The place is clean and modern, has wifi, and very important for a cycle tourist, it has a laundry!  So I now have clean clothes and am good for 3 days.  

I'm tired folks.  I just stood up and my legs feel like rubber when they aren't cramping.  Tomorrow I have only 40 miles to reach Waverly, but there are 11% grades along the way.  Big deal, I'll take them one at a time.  And I'm taking a rest day in Waverly.  I need the rest, and I need to do some planning and reserving future lodging cause I didn't want to reserve too far ahead until I knew for sure that I would make it this far.  Things happen, you know?   So far I am on the "concept schedule" I developed for this route, so barring anything unforeseen happening (how could you know that something unknown was about to happen?) I will finish on time for my wife to pick up the pieces in Muscatine and haul me back to Tulsa.  I may not set an alarm tonight, this 04:30 wakeup thing was needed for the last 2 days, but I have plenty of time tomorrow to get it done.  

HEADS UP; the following video is not appropriate for the little ones, or even for those of you exceptionally immature adults.  Good night folks, from somewhere alongside a Tennessee back road in the hills.

Today's ride: 72 miles (116 km)
Total: 721 miles (1,160 km)

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