Art is really good at his job of selling and servicing recumbents and you can tell very quickly that he has a genuine passion for the bicycle/tricycle. We spent most of our time wrenching in the shop. First we went thru Sharon's trike and fixed brakes, cables, shifters and tires. Then we re-geared my terratrike by replacing the shifters, crankset, rear cassette, rear derailleur and chain; this was necessary in order to lower my gear range because we went from a 10-speed road setup to a 9-speed mountain bike setup and these parts had to be compatible with each other to work smoothly. It turned out to be a $900 investment but, it was either that or load up and head for home from the stress on my knees, hips and back coupled with the upcoming Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia; climbs that will be considerably higher and steeper than those we have climbed thus far. So, if anybody wants to purchase a '95 Jeep Wrangler, an '08 Cannondale t1 Touring Bike, an '09 Cannondale t2 Touring bike or an '08 Cannondale superSix Team Liquigas Edition Race Bike to help finance these changes and the rest of my mission... please let me know. Lastly, we setup Chuck's new catrike... yup! Chuck finally decided to commit to purchasing a new bike and we just happened to be in the perfect place for him to do so. Art spent the better part of a day working with Chuck on having him ride various trikes and then took him out for a 7-mile ride around Signal Mt. to really get a good feel for the trike he had settled on, a catrike road in lime green. Art & I then went thru the trike and swapped out the 32T chainring for a 24T, added a rear fender, rack and 2 bottle cages. It really is a sweet trike and I think Chuck is much safer and much, much more comfortable on it than his old trek 5200.
After discussing our exit route with Art this morning over the topo maps, I decided it would be best to depart from a high school located on TN58 just NE of Chattanooga. The morning was cool and damp from the previous day's rain but the clouds had departed and it was clear and bright. That all changed when we got about 20 miles down the road and the clouds began to creep over the horizon. It sprinkled on Chuck & I several times but never opened up on us. The road was decent and though we didn't have a shoulder the traffic was relatively light. For the most part there were low rolling hills with some longer flats. We kept a pretty good pace and Chuck stayed up front the entire time. I could see that Chuck was truly enjoying his new ride and I was/am very happy for him. He will be able to ride comfortably and safely for many more years to come. We then caught a little clearing in the sky and met Sharon around the 25-mile mark. She & Chuck swapped out in a parking lot while we were joined by Ms. Duck, a local lady who knew the area extensively and had kin or contacts in just about every state and/or city we had either been through or were on our route to New York. She was a friendly lady and offered us good tidings for continued good journey.
Now, Chuck did his level best to convince Sharon that rain was inevitable and that she should continue to drive (thus allowing him to continue to enjoy his new trike). Well, Sharon wouldn't buy it and poor Chuck had to load his new mean green machine into the truck and head for the KOA in Sweetwater. I promised him he really would get to ride it some more before we make DC! So Sharon & I left Chuck to load his gear and change his shoes and headed out for the campground while the clouds began to pile up darker and gloomier on the horizon. It wasn't 5 miles down the road and the sky just opened up... I stopped just short of the wall of water and managed to don my jacket but it did little to abate the upcoming drenching. We pulled off the road as visibility went to zero and the cold rain stung our faces. There was zero shelter in sight so we simply stood off the road in a driveway looking pitiful for the 10 or 15 minutes that the rain fell. It passed and we pedaled a couple of more miles to the southern edge of Decatur, TN where it started to rain again though not as hard. We pulled up and dashed into the AMVets Club where we were welcomed with cold drinks, towels and an offer for some BBQ lunch. By this time it was nearing 1600hrs and we still had 30 miles to cover so we passed on lunch and, with a part in passing showers made a run for the campground. We didn't make it further than the north side of Decatur when it began to rain again. We sprinted up under the awning of the Jones Street Cafe for a respite. The rain came down so hard we couldn't clearly see across the street so we decided to go ahead and eat while we waited for the rain to stop. Inside the cafe we met Michael Bean, the cafe owner, and visited for a while. Mike seems to be a really nice fella and I wish him the very best in his life. When the rain kept coming and news from new patrons didn't brighten our day we called Chuck and told him to unload his trike & the gear at camp & bring the truck back. We ate while waiting for Chuck & then he ate when he arrived. When we went to pay before leaving the young lady informed us that Mike had told her that our dinner was on him. By this time it was 1830hrs and, grateful for such a fine meal at such a great price, we loaded up mine & Sharon's trikes, the B.O.B. & all our gear and drove the last 25 miles to the KOA in Sweetwater.
It didn't take long and the road would have been a nice route had we had the time to ride it before it got dark. We set camp, met the neighbors and all go showers by 2130hrs and here I lie in my tent listening to Patty Griffin on the Ipod and telling you of my day. It is a cool and clear evening with lots of stars shining thru the gaps in the trees.
As I lie here I can't help to think that even with the rain and little bit of misfortune we had today, we are still able to go out and do this. We can get out and go camping and bicycle touring because we have freedoms that are secured with the sacrifices of our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen throughout the United States and the World. I also can't help but think of the news I read today on NPR that August has been the deadliest month in Afghanistan since we began this conflict and some 46 of our Service Members have lost their lives there this month. I'm not certain of the number of injuries. There are at least 46 families whose lives are now forever changed; that much more empty. Let us Never, Ever forget the sacrifices of these courageous men and women. Let us show our support by doing more than waving a flag, pinning a medal on their chests and slapping a magnet on our vehicles. Let us show our support by helping those who return to bridge the gap between the battlefield and civilian life as well as taking care of the families of those Troops who will not make it home. Contribute today to Wounded Warrior Project and start making that difference.
Thanks to Art & Anne, the folks at the Decatur AMVets Club, Mike and his crew at the Jones Street Cafe and the folks at the KOA Sweetwater for allowing me to camp free of charge for being an American Veteran! HOOAH!
Tomorrow the roads will take us up thru Knoxville, TN and beyond. I'm not certain yet where we will end for sure but I will post the map in the morning. The weather is supposed to clear and be much more favorable tomorrow. Let's hope so.
Enjoy the Ride!