Murphy NC to Trenton GA, 116 miles with a few thousand feet of climbing
A very long day: over 12 hours on the road and 9:45 on the bike. It started out well as I left Murphy about 9 AM and end well as I reached the Days Inn in Trenton a bit after 9 PM. In between there was a lot of nice riding! The Ocoee gorge was particularly nice as was US 11 in Gorgia as I rushed to make it here before dark. I only had to use my headlight for the last fifteen minutes or so.
US 64 from Murphy to the Tennessee state line is much better than US 64 from Franklin to Murphy. It will be even better after they finish repaving it. They were paving where US 19 leaves US 64 today, and it caused me a little trouble, but not much, as I had to take the only lane open for about a quarter mile. One of the fellows on the paving crew told me they were paving it "all the way" which I assume means to the TN line. That would be nice as the quality of the road and the shoulder both improve markedly at the border.
I stopped for a break and a nice visit with the locals just before I reached the border. After crossing into TN I rode till near the end of the Ocoee gorge before stopping again. US 64 was pretty good riding all of the way. It was a 'bit' hilly - that is mountainous to you flatlanders - as it worked its way over a number of 500 foot or so high ridges. These ridges run north-east to south west and are a prominent feature of this part of the country. My ride ended tonight going south-west between two of those ridges.
When 64 reaches the Ocoee, things change. Instead of climbing ridges, there is a long stretch riding down a river gorge. Nice, but there is little or no shoulder, limited visibility, narrow lanes, and, during the week, a moderate amount of traffic including quite a few trucks. It was fun, but it wouldn't be fun on a weekend when there is heavy traffic including lots of RVs and folks with boats on trailers. It would be very dangerous to ride under those conditions.
After reaching Cleveland TN at about the 60 mile point, I stopped for lunch on US 11. I met a nice young man who was interested in my trip and knew a lot about these mountains. We visited while I ate and he, jokingly, offered me, and my bike a ride south in his SUV. I declined, despite the moderate head wind and the difficulty of riding south through Chattanooga.
It was 30 mile south form Cleveland to Chattanooga and most of it was nice riding a rural feeling US 11. I got lost once in non rural section where 11 just sorta ends at I-75. I rode on for a mile or so but it was bad riding - modern American suburbia near rush hour - so I went back and got some very good help from the folks at a Waffle House. You need to jog over a block or so at the light before the Interstate and get on Old Lee Highway (that was 11) for a few miles before you get on 11 again. Fortified with directions and a couple of cups of coffee, I headed on into Chattanooga. It wasn't bad for riding into a city, but they sure could stand to improve their highway signs! I had several incidents where 11 just went away because they - I guess - didn't see the need to put up signs. I also had one unpleasant in Chattanooga where a woman in a car decided I didn't belong on 'her' road. There were four lanes on that one way section of 11 and very little traffic, but she and her, I assume, equally rude companion, sat on my 'bumper' and blew their horn until I stopped and confronted them. Then they got scared on me and, muttering threats, sped around me, only to be stuck at the next light with me on their bumper <grin>. On the way into Cleveland I also experienced the redneck jerk, Tennessee variety. These guys threw the remnants of their fast food lunch at me as they roared by in their SUV. Fortunately they didn't allow for the speed difference so all but a few small drops of liquid passed in front of me. It would have been unpleasant, but not dangerous if the rest of it had hit me. Oh well, most folks here are very nice. I had great visits with people every place I stopped and very little problem with drivers. Compared to Atlanta this is bicycling heaven! Which reminds me, I actually saw three adult bicyclists on US 11 in Chattanooga. That is more than I saw on my last ride across the whole state of Tennessee from east to west!
When I finally made it out of Chattanooga to the south, riding around and partially up Lookout Mountain, I had covered a bit over 100 miles and it was 8 PM, so I decided to stop for the night. I stopped and was told that Chattanooga Fire Safety regulations prohibit bringing a bike into any motel room in Chattanooga. Sheesh. Since Chattanooga has extended its city limits a long was out along each of the major roads, that means there was no 'room at the inn' for me in
Tennessee. I had to ride south anther 13 miles or so to Trenton Georgia to find a room. It was nice ride, but it made for a very long day. Be aware that Chattanooga is not, at least at the fire marshal level, a friendly place for bicycle tourists.