I made it into Nashville just as planned and found myself out in the airport pickup zone with my bike and gear waiting for Steve, a friend met on one of the Facebook bicycling groups I hang out in, to come by in his truck and take me over to Trace Bike Shop, which I had arranged with in advance to set my Surly Disc Trucker up for the ride.
The shop had agreed to keep my bike bag, box, and duffel during the ride and it will be breaking the Surly down and repacking it for me the day I fly home. Steve rolled up and shortly we were whizzing down the Interstate past downtown Nashville.
The metro area is pretty compact and within an hour of landing I was offloading my bike into the shop.
Steve’s a retired guy like me and a local musician and photographer. We got better acquainted over a nice lunch at a Mexican place next to the bike shop. It just amazes me how kind people can be.
I’ll say it here, too. If you are touring on a bike, join some Facebook or other Internet groups and get the word out. The kindness of strangers has been instrumental to the success of the rides I’ve made in the past few years. It has made me resolve to offer anything reasonable I can do when I know about someone touring in Alaska- if you are planning to do that let me know.
Steve and I killed some time by driving down the Trace, the Northern Terminus of which was just a bit less than a mile from the bike shop, to the Tennessee State Route 50 NTP Bicycle Campground about 35 miles/55 kilometers in. It was a gorgeous drive, but gave me a pretty good idea of the significant hills I would be facing over the first couple of days. On the way back we took a few extra minutes and drove down the Tennessee State Route 96 exit on a significant hill to look at the Double-Arch Bridge (which carries the Trace across that road) from below. What an incredible and beautiful part of the built landscape.
The bike wasn’t ready by the time the shop closed so Steve took me back to his house where I met his gracious wife Susie and we had dinner. I was their guest for the night and worked for several hours to get all my arranging and packing done before bed.
The next morning Steve and I hit the road early in order to reach the bike shop at 10:00 when it opened. We grabbed a McDonald’s breakfast on the way- sausage biscuits and coffee are perfect cycling food in the morning. My bike had a few last minute things that needed my input at the shop, but that didn’t hold us up for long.
We loaded the Disc Trucker onto Steve’s truck for the short drive to Loveless Cafe, which is just a stone’s throw from the Northern Terminus.
I was ready to roll!