Sunday, June 24, 2012

Just a Trace....Tennessee

After driving ten hours, I finally arrived in Collinwood, TN and to the address where my B & B was located.  I called the number listed on the door, then peered in the windows while waiting for the innkeeper to arrive.

"What the heck kind of place am I staying in?"  I wondered out loud.

The front 'parlor' was filled with hair salon chairs and equipment!  Did this double as a beauty salon during the slow season?  Was a cut and a perm included in the price of my stay?

Things that made me go 'hmmmm', but I shrugged my shoulders in surrender.  What else could I do?  It was late, and I was in the boonies.  So what if I had a few extra sinks and chairs in the room with me.

The innkeeper arrived. standing at the corner of the building.

"Back here," she said.

As it turns out, my cottage was behind the salon, and had been converted from a skin tanning salon.  It was lovely, clean and comfortable and my hosts, Larry and Dianne, were warm and welcoming.

Packed and ready to go

With the prediction of steamy, hot weather, I started riding the next morning at 6:30 am.  Anyone that knows me understands that I do not function well at that hour.  I pulled my bike out of the car, put the front wheel on and began to ride. It was only when I finished my ride that I noticed I had put the wheel on backwards.  Oh well.... no one noticed....    

 Oh, how I wish I had paid attention to how I had come into town last night.  True to form, I was lost before I even began, having to stop at the gas station to ask for directions from a group having coffee.  Sigh....this was supposed to be an easy ride--straight out and back on the Natchez Trace....I didn't consider having to navigate there first and now, being directionally challenged, I was lost.   After getting directions and a hail of 'good lucks', I pedaled away from the table of older local gents, wondering if they were putting down wagers of whether I would get there or not.

Once on the Natchez Trace, it was a bicycler's paradise.  The weather was a cool, misty 60 degrees, there was no wind, no traffic and a pavement as smooth as glass.  After only a few feet, I found myself descending, descending, descending ........on and on. Unlike Texas,  no vibrations rumbled through the carbon frame as I sailed down the hill, scattering deer and turkeys in my wake. A redtailed hawk played cat and mouse with me, flying across my path, only to land in a tree, watch me spin by, then do it again. Smiling like a banshee, a distant voice in my head tried to remind me that I would be climbing this hill upon my the final leg of my ride.  But like the the rabbit in Aesop's fable, who didn't save for the future, I ignored the little voice and rode like the wind.

Up and down, up and was glorious and I was in awe of my surroundings.  None of the sounds filtering through the trees were made by man; the silence of that noise was almost deafening in its foreignness. Gradually, growing accustomed to the lack of  'normal' noise, I became aware of all the natural sounds surrounding me....  the rustle of the dry leaves as some small creatures scurries through them, the many songs and tones of the birds greeting the day and each other, the tinkling trickle of water somewhere.  And the, alive and fragrant.  I stopped and gave thanks, full of appreciation and gratitude.

The day was beginning to warm, and within an hour it was in the 80's.  Still my legs churned as I crested and descended the long rollers, strong and full of energy.   Wisely, I had prepared for the heat and the exertion; following the advice of fellow cyclist "Rondog", I set my computer to remind me to drink every ten minutes.  That was genius..........dehydration is a real issue for me, and this assures that I drink enough.

All too soon, it was time to return to the B & B.  The temperature was hovering in the high 80's and road traffic had picked up as people made their way to church.  I still felt fresh, though I was quite damp from the humidity and sweat. As one might say, I was glistening.  I turned and began to retrace my steps.  Still pedaling strongly, I was mentally congratulating myself on a ride well executed when the first cramp hit.

No, this was not a muscle cramp due to electrolyte imbalance....this was a cramp reminiscent of the cramps I had experienced the last two weeks from food poisoning.  Sharp pains shot through my gut, encircling my back and squeezing like a vise. I broke out in a cold sweat and felt nauseous.  I knew what was coming, but there was no where to stop; I was literally in the middle of houses, no gas stations, not even an outhouse.  The surrounding woods were out of the question; they were full of poison ivy and I did not bring any 'provisions' for the green room.

Arrgghhh--another cramp hit, then another, squeezing me with more urgency.  I pedaled faster, reasoning that if all the blood was going to my legs, my intestines would settle a bit.   Arrgghh......well, that didn't work, and as the cramp went into full spasm, I saw up ahead the long, long hill that I had come down at the very beginning.

The good news was, I was close to home; the bad news....I had at least 2 miles of climbing grades ranging from between 2 and 7%....  This is where riding becomes mind over matter...ignoring my middle half, I focused on my legs, my technique and my breathing, (I knew all those birthing classes would come in handy again....).  Tamed under my wheels, the undulating grey snake wound its way up the mountain, with me riding its back as if we were old friends.  The intestinal cramping had not ceased, but my attention to it had, rendering it powerless.  I rode the remainder of the miles without incident.  (I will at this point take a moment and warn everyone to never, ever eat fish tacos at the airport)

It was a wonderful ride, a wonderful way to start the day and a lesson well quote a friend..."where the mind flows, the body goes..."

Sunrise on the Natchez Trace

Long, gradual ascent

Fields of corn and tobacco

As the sun climbed, so did the temperatures.

Light at the end of the tunnel

1 comment:

  1. OMG. What a ride you had. Keep spinning girl. I love to read about your adventures