Looking at the Tennessee River for the last time since it heads north to the Ohio just west of Florence
Yesterday my legs got tired after I rode 40 miles. Today my legs were tired when I started riding. That is the way it goes on the third day of a tour. My day started, again, with breakfast at McDs. I checked into breakfast at Hardees, my only other choice, and decided to stick with McD. It was good and, this time, I could eat it all.
The ride from Rodgersville to Florence on US 72 was nice. Traffic was light, much of that stretch has new pavement with a decent shoulder, and the temperature was still in the 80s. Riding in Florence was rather like riding in Huntsville on a, slightly, smaller scale. Following 72 through Florence meant making lots of left turns on multilane roads with a lot of big trucks. I guess, because of the left turns, it may actually have been more dangerous than riding in Huntsville where I never left the right edge of the road. There were no shoulders (of course!) so those truck couldn't get by me in the heavy traffic. I pulled off the road several times to let groups of trucks pass. I never felt threatened by the trucks, but one yahoo riding in the back seat of a car proved he was a big man by yelling at me. That is part of the culture around here, but the main stream culture is very polite and I'm much safer riding in heavy traffic here than I would be in California, for example.
Waiting for the current burst to end so I could cross the river
The most challenging riding of the day was getting across the last bridge on my route that crosses the Tennessee. It is a long, four lane bridge with no shoulders. Fortunately the traffic was very bursty because of the red lights, so I waited for the end of one burst and then rode hard to get as far as I could before the next burst reached me. I almost made it across before they caught up with me. again, I wasn't worried about getting run over, I just didn't want to be any more of an impediment to traffic than I had to be.
I stopped for (first) lunch in Muscle Shoals which is across the river from Florence. The Subway I stopped at was on the other side of the five lane road - two lanes on each side with a turning lane in the middle. Just getting across that road and back was exciting! After finally getting through the urban and suburban area, riding US 72 was pleasant, if a bit noisy. About ten miles after the mess and ten miles before Cherokee, my GPS routed me off onto 'The Old Lee Highway." That saved a little distance, was nostalgic since US 11 is also the Lee Highway (Robert E. for you Yankees), and got me away from traffic for 45 minutes or so.
Some of my riding today was on US 72 like this
In Cherokee, where the old road ends, Lucille's was closed so I stopped at J+Js on 72. Meat and three sides for $4.50 and lots - two huge glasses in my case - of ice tea for $1. I had an excellent second lunch while enjoying the folks at J+Js. I highly recommend it of you like real southern food - I didn't know you could cook brussel sprouts that long! - and southern culture.
Despite often running along the train tracks, US 72 was not flat
I measured over 2200 feet of climbing in 83 miles
Also note the small shoulder with the rumble strip down the middle
There was a lot of climbing today, especially near the Mississippi border. At the border, the road deteriorated into concrete slabs with discontinuities - thump, thump and I recalled how much I disliked this road surface the last time I rode into Mississippi in 2000. US 72 isn't as bad as that was, but the hills and the bumpy road surface did annoy me and make me wonder if I should have taken 'The Road less travelled. Eventually, the road surface improved and riding was good again as I neared Corinth.
This is what US 72 looked like most of the
Note the Natchez Trace just ahead
Not too long after Cherokee, I reached the point where the Natchez Trace Parkway crosses US 72
I stopped to contemplate the road less travelled, but continued on US 72 instead
If I had taken the Natchez Trace, I would have had to ride 55 miles or so to Tupelo in order to find a place to stay with an internet connection. I had already ridden 50 miles when I crossed the Trace and had another 33 miles to go to reach Corinth. I didn't feel up to adding 20+ miles to my day, so I got back on US 72, obviously not the road less travelled, but the one most practical for me to travel today.
I stopped about ten miles before Corinth for a break - and a visit with some locals - and then rode on into yet another urban mess, this one at rush hour. Fortunately my GPS routed me on back roads - one was signed as a bicycle route - away from the main drag a few miles before the center of Corinth. That was very pleasant. The motels were at the intersection of US 72 and US 45, two busy roads. Since I was looking somewhat upscale tonight, I stopped at the Hampton Inn. The nice lady thee told me they were full, as were the Holiday Inn and the Comfort Inn at that intersection. That left the less fancy motel next to the Holiday Inn, right across US 72. After almost getting run over trying to get across the street, I got a room there for $60. The wireless was only available in the lobby, but it worked well and the room was very nice. I didn't sleep well, but that was my fault for taking advantage of the coffee in the lobby to keep me awake long enough to get some ride reports done. Breakfast the next morning was also excellent, although that turned out to be due to a mistake on my part