Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lost in the Hail

Today I cycled 61 miles, climbed 4,180 feet, and was on the road for 6.5 hours. This was not a good day to get lost--it was challenging enough without that--but I managed to get lost anyway. (I should have cycled 56 miles and not cycled over an extra mountain,)

I thought the countryside today was some of the prettiest we've seen yet. Steep hills! So steep that I got off my bike and walked three sections. Another one of our riders refers to this as the "walk of shame." I prefer to think of it as "saving my knees for another hill/day."

I must have seen 15 cardinals today. Thought of my mother every time; she especially loved cardinals.

The route was tough to follow today because there were many consecutive turns that were described, for example, as "turn on unsigned Crooked Creek Rd." When there are no road signs, the only thing that gives you a clue is the number of miles you've gone since your last known location. I was obsessively checking my odometer but still managed to miss a turn. When I came upon a left turn, I could tell it was not the turn I was looking for. By then, I knew I had gone too far, but I wasn't sure that back-tracking was my best option. (If I didn't see the turn my first time by, would I see it going by again?)

I tried using Google Maps to find my location, but I didn't have enough signal. So there I was, in backwoods Tennessee, on a deserted road, with two dogs barking and leaping at me (of course), off the route map, with no clue where I was. I got lucky because a woman in a pickup came along and allowed me to flag her down. I told her all kinds of road and town names from our route, but only one rang a bell with her. She told me that, if I followed the road to the left, it would come out on Crooked Creek Rd. What she neglected to say was that the road went up over a mountain. 

After climbing and descending the mountain, I did come to a road--with no street sign. I assumed it was Crooked Creek Rd, but I wasn't sure where along the road I was, so I did not know if I should turn left or right in order to get back on route. Luckily, I had cell signal here. Google Maps initially showed my location without a single street name--not very helpful. As I stood there pondering what to do, I realized that street names were starting to fill in on the map. Eventually, I was able to figure out that I should turn left. A few miles later, I was back on route, but well behind the entire rest of our group. 

Route maps for today. Part 1:

Part 2 (My detour occurred miles 26-32):

Part 3:

The day started out sunny but quickly turned to clouds, which was a blessing for climbing all the steep hills. My detour took me through some rain and some hail, which the rest of the group missed. The rest of the group also missed the downpour I cycled through for the last few miles because they had already reached our destination by then--the Imperial Lodge in Waverly, TN. This is a great night to be in a motel because it's supposed to rain all night. (If any of my readers have been concerned about the tornado warnings that have been issued for this area, know that I've seen no sign of one yet and I'll be sleeping indoors tonight.) We also managed to get our laundry done here. 

Photos from the day:

The Tennessee River. The River was on our left for much of the day, but there was so much foliage it didn't make for good photo opportunities. 

Other notable mentions: Property labeled "Shotgun Holler." Large homestead labeled "Rattlesnake Ranch." As I was once again chased down by many an unleashed/unfenced dog, I kept thinking the term "junkyard dog." One dog put his mouth on my heel today. When I felt fur and slobber (no teeth), I yelled, "Hey, what are you doing?!"

I'm feeling very discouraged tonight. Bound to happen, right? My feet and hands feel like they have nerve damage. We're having a huge thunderstorm at the moment, and the weather tomorrow (for our steepest, hilliest day yet) is supposed to be crappy and become "extreme" after 1:00. Even the group dynamics are getting on my nerves. Tonight after supper, we picked and packed our breakfasts and lunches for tomorrow. It was a free-for-all. I don't have the energy to get in the thick of the scrapping. I wish this trip had stronger leadership. 

I am grateful for an indoor bed tonight; you should hear the rain thundering down at the moment! Hopefully I'll recover some tonight and feel more upbeat tomorrow. 


  1. Oh dear… that sounds like one heck of a day. It's weird that you're traveling in a group, yet frequently totally alone -- what a drag when you're lost! It's so much easier to deal with crap when someone else is there, going through it too. I did check on the tornado warnings; thanks to the maps you posted yesterday, I was able to line up where you are with the weather maps, which said that the chance of tornadoes there was about 2% -- the severe warnings seemed to be centered to the west, in Arkansas. At least you didn't have *that* to contend with! Anyway, I sure hope the general dynamics, etc. improve… I'll work on sending good vibes in your direction ;-)

  2. Thanks, Debra. When I woke at 5:00 this morning, all was quiet and I thought, "I should get up and get going while the going is good." By 5:20, the wind was whooshing and the rain was pounding. We've had a dozen blinding downpours since then. There's a lot of standing water everywhere, and warnings about flash floods. Our route today crosses many creeks--any one or more of which could be washed out. All of this is adding up to the possibility that we will not ride today. We're in a holding pattern at the moment--7:15am. Jan