Are you from Tennessee? Because you're the only TEN I SEE.
By Jason & Daphne
Al, Daphne and I decided to get over winter and go south to ride a 200K. We took the long drive through crap Indiana traffic on Friday. First stop was at the Whole Foods in Nashville to have our hot bar dinner.
Daphne: A Tennessee Whole Foods hot bar contains lots of ocra, beans, chicken, and collard greens. They also provide a bowl that you can fill up for a flat rate of $12. Al ate 2.5lbs of food that evening.
Sometime around 6:30PM in Kentucky Daphne had a thought (I'm sure she had many before that, but this one is important for my story). She asked "Did you make arrangements to get the keys to the cabin after hours?" My stomach flipped around a little bit. I made the reservations, and am fairly accustomed to staying in hotels, but making arrangements to pick up keys after hours is something that I never thought about. The park closed at 4:00.
Daphne: Face palm. This is what happens when you leave planning up to the guys.
Convinced that we'd be sleeping in my car, we went to the main building in the park. The door was locked. I saw a chair inside with a light on and pulled on the locked door, hoping that whoever was in that chair at 4:00PM, was still in the building at 10:30PM. They were not. The sign on the door said "office hours 10:00am to 4:00pm". The other sign said "late arriving guests check the rack to the right." It was like a beam of light from heaven shined down upon this rack that contained one envelope with J. Fergurson written on it. I walked over and picked up the envelope containing cabin keys. Tragedy was averted.
The next morning I woke up to Al sauntering into the kitchen at 5:30AM. I had slept in a fold out couch by the kitchen. Al and Daphne are much better in the early morning than myself. They made breakfast, and packed up the rice cakes they had made. We left for the ride at 6AM.
We arrived at the start at 7AM, and were met by 20 or so fellow cyclists. We received our manifest for the day which included about 6 checkpoints at various gas stations along the route. We got ready and a friend of mine, Barry from Kentucky, stayed around waiting for the three of us. Then our foursome started riding. Barry was an excellent navigator with his cue sheet and GPS system. He also frequently rides 200-400K on the weekend and is training for a 1200K.
The first 20 miles were fairly uneventful. The dogs didn't start chasing us yet. The climbing was civil. Then Barry let us know we were approaching the first climb.
Daphne: From this point on we climbed, then climbed some more. Then climbed even longer and steeper. We passed beautiful pastures with cows and horses and felt the sun beat down on our backs. The road felt liberating. We were all smiles. We traded potholes and freezing temps for meth houses and yard dogs out for the attack. The surliest of beasts was a three-legged dog that got up to 21.5 mph for a good .5 miles. I was convinced for a moment someone was going to loose a limb. "When you see the dogs you're like a Cat 5 crit racer" -AL, directed to me.
Now, the important part. Where we ate afterwards. This was tricky. We wanted to be sure to have good food but it was a gamble. We landed on Tom's Blue Moon BBQ, Lebanon, TN. It was the most delicious food I have ever had. So good that Jason took a pound of meat back to the cabin with us which was later eaten while playing a very sleepy game of Rummy and watching Rocky IV.
Things I learned:
Al has an uncanny way of finding the best coffee shops and places to eat in unfamiliar places. Is this a messenger trait?
I traveled with true gentlemen. They would pull over and get out of the car to release their gas. And then do a lap around the car before proceeding.
I like hills. I want to eat them for breakfast every day.
2014 is going to be a great year.
Things I learned:
It's hard to recognize people in their stretchy pants.
Daphne is hella fast
Dogs with 3 legs can be more persistent that dogs with 4
Descending > ascending
Southern BBQ is dope