Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A beautiful ride through the hills of Tennessee

A quick note, this was written on Monday 10 October, but I did not get a chance to post it, so take that into account when you read it.

After last night’s dinner at one of the last restaurants on Hwy 76 in SC, the Dots decided to travel to Cleveland Tn for some rest. We arrived at the Jameson Inn where the night Manager Jackie took really good care of us. As with many people we meet, she has also been affected by cancer. She has lost several of her close family members and her sister had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. We had her create several magnets that we have now added to the van.

We finally climbed in bed around 1230 with alarms set for 4am. Wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t sleep. Too many thoughts of all the people for whom we ride. I think I finally dozed off around 2am. The phone woke me at 345am – it was team Momma Jen – The Dream Team was already outside the hotel!

It turns out that Team Purple Power really rocked their shift and put us ahead of schedule by quite a few miles. Doing some quick calculations, Team Livelong would be doing the first of the big climbs that in the past two years have been the exclusive domain of the Polka Dots.

Thanks again to Jackie, she opened up the breakfast service and we had breakfast around 430 after turning the rooms over to the dream team. We rolled out and headed for Dayton, Tn, where we had heard Team Livelong was headed for after crossing the Tennessee River around 430am.

At 510am, we got the word that they were in Dayton, and we knew for sure they would be doing the first climb. We passed them around 540am and they had rocked the climb! We pulled a short distance ahead of them, and pulled over to get ready for our first 6 hour shift.

Compared to the past two years, The C3 team was about 15-20 miles ahead of the planned schedule. Knowing this, the Dots decided to enjoy a great ride through this VERY beautiful country. Of course, picking up the baton from Team Livelong, we still had plenty of climbing to do, they had done the first 3ish miles of climbing. The rest was up to us.

The route is gorgeous. Rolling terrain that I have been referring to as the Tennessee Walking Horse country. I say this only because of the massive open fields where I imagine beautiful horses frolicking. Actually, we saw only a few horses and lots of cows.

In fact, we travelled the ‘Trail of Tears’. I know very little of the actual story behind this, but this was the route travelled by the Native Americans as they were displaced from North Carolina.

Our climbing route took us up two excellent climbs, and three descents (Team Livelong stole the first climb, but we got the reward of the descent). After that last descent, the route remained rolling. Being so far ahead of the planned route, we took our time, relaxing with a number of quite long breaks.

We stopped at a small motorcycle repair shop to allow traffic to pass, and ended up with another extended stop. At this point, we were about 5 hours into the shift and had covered about 62 miles. The Lemon Bonkers were rolling up behind us, and met us there for a few minutes. We asked them to go about 15 miles up the road and we’d transition with them there.

Again, the roads we travelled were just awesome. More rolling hills through farmland. Many very cool barns and silos and really just outstanding beauty. We arrived at the transition at exactly noon – The lemon bonkers were ready to roll, and we cheered them on after some quick hugs.

And what about Flat Stanley? Stanley was a big help today. He helped us with Transition by helping Cara do a little driving. After the ride, he met with the Dream Team for a quick introduction before we all headed to lunch.

After lunch, Stanley helped Siddens navigate, he even climbed up on a cotton stalk when we stopped for a break. I believe he’s enjoying his little adventure out here on the road. Most importantly, I think he is beginning to appreciate what the efforts of this little band of cyclists and team managers are trying to accomplish. We’re trying to make a difference in a horrible disease by helping as many people as possible.

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