Day3 - Cookeville to Brentwood TN

I seem to be in a time rut: all of my rides so far have taken close to 7:45 of riding time and been 95 to 100 miles in length. Other than that the first three days of this tour have been quite different. Today's ride followed 70N to near Nashville and then went south around Nashville to Brentwood, a ritzy suburb. I though it would be far enough from Nashville to avoid city riding, but I was wrong. Riding near Nashville is much more civilized than riding near Atlanta, but I still did a lot of miles of 'riding in the gutter' as traffic wizzed by. As a result I have a trashed front wheel and a flat front tire. That happened only a few miles from my planned destination, and I managed to un-taco the wheel enough to get here (without a front brake).

Tomorrow I shall try to get my wheel fully useable again, but if I fail there is a bike shop only a mile or two away. I'm staying at a $100 a night Holiday Inn - this is the high rent district - but at least that has the advantage of service. The concierge not only knew where a bike shop was located, he knew their hours. I'm impressed. The shop, which is also quite upscale, doesn't open till 11 AM. Did I mention that one of the cars that wizzed past me was a new Ferrari? Nashville is a very wealthy town.

Riding on 70N from Cookeville to Carthage was really nice riding. After getting away from the commercial clutter of Cookeville - 70N is the 'strip' on the west side of town - it is gently rolling hills in nice rural setting. Then it climbs (computer wordplay warning) Yet Another Ridge and winds along ridgetops for quite a while. Beautiful and hilly! After Chestnut Mound there is a great downhill into Elmwood. Nice riding, but I was getting hungry and the only places to eat had gone out of business (several of 'em - maybe the nearness of I-40?). When I visited with the fellow heading from Florida to Michigan yesterday, he commented on the lack of hills on his ride. North-South you follow the valleys, East-West you climb the ridges...

A mile or two before I reached the Caney Fork bridge and 30 miles into the day, I stopped at the B+B diner. It isn't fancy and the food wasn't as good as it was at Joanie's Diner yesterday, but I really enjoyed eating there and visiting with the owner. He told me about the Gore (as in the VP of the US) ranch which is just on the other side of the river. I later saw signs for a public auction of Farm Equipment at the Gore Ranch this weekend.

From Carthage, which is a pretty city mostly on the other side of the river from 70N, the ride is less interesting, but OK. Mostly it is climbing and descending a long series of small ridges in farming country. Not bad, but not as great as the earlier part. The road runs pretty straight. I though (hoped - I was getting tired) this might be because it was flat, but the reality is that the ridges are now small enough to run the road straight over. It was still climb and coast, climb and coast, etc. I was getting my usual 50 mile into the ride low and it was quite hot and humid, so I stopped at Rome for some gatorade and at Lebanon for my third meal of the day. I rode through downtown Lebanon and, because I didn't see any local restaurants, stopped at a Burger King. Downtown Lebanon is kinda neat, but getting out of Lebanon on 70 involved a long trip with many many stop lights through what seemed to be an endless collection of malls. If I were riding through again I'd take the bypass!

After Lebanon 70 gets increasingly busy and increasingly commercial. I routed 70 to Hermitage, the Old Hickory to Bell Road and Bell Road till it becomes Old Hickory again. This turned out to be very urban riding with some tricky bits getting across multiple lanes of traffic, but good shoulders until Bell Road joins Stewards Ferry Pike. Then it became high speed etc with lousy shoulders. The shoulders are like a rough gravel with the added spice of debris. Then riding conditions got worse as the road became a narrow two lane with far too much traffic. Despite the road conditions, I never felt threatened by the drivers. Unlike Atlanta, most drivers were very considerate. I did get off the road several times, but those were my choice when I wanted to let trucks, that were too big to pass me on that narrow busy road, past.

When Bell road became a multilane expressway again, it was under construction along much of its length. Riding it in heavy traffic was a challenge and I finally gave in and rode in the, fairly clean, gutter for several miles. When Bell Road ended and Old Hickory started again, I stopped at a service station to ask about motels at the next interstate crossing. I was exhausted and dehydrated, so I had a 44 oz coke.

When I headed out back to the road my partially deflated front tire rolled off the rim, gently crashing the bike and tacoing the wheel. I should have checked the tire pressure with my thumb before riding! The very nice women at the service station were totally lost as where I might find a bicycle shop and daylight was running out, so I took the tire and tube off the rim and bashed the rim against a concrete post to get it back into some semblance of round. It finally un-tacoed with an audible 'boing.' Then I checked the tire for sharp objects and, finding none, remounted the tire with a new tube. I should have known better. Oh well, that setup got me here before the new tube was also flat. There is probably a piece of wire in that tire, but it is going to be tricky to find it. I'll worry about it tomorrow - for now I'm too tired to deal with it. I'll also worry about how I'm going to get to ride through Memphis on Sunday now that day 4 of this tour will be cut short getting the wheel repaired or replaced.

PS I have my wheel reasonably straight (with a wump or two, but usable) and the two (!) punctures in my spare tube repaired. I'm still planning to go to the bike store on my way out of Nashville both to see if they have a better wheel and to get some spare spokes for this one. I realized last night that I brought spare spokes for the wrong set of wheels...

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