Monday, September 6, 2010

The Trace

On Thursday, I realized that Monday was a holiday. HEY! I can go riding! I sent Matt an email asking if he had plans. We set up to meet at 11:00am at the start of the Natchez Trace.

Of course, since it's Matt and I, one of us had to be late. I think Matt was a little later himself, but I was nearly an hour late. It was my turn, I guess. We headed out from the gas station at the North end of the Trace right at noon, and started heading South. I had never been on the Natchez Trace before, and I was in for a treat. The weather was simply perfect. While on the bike and moving, I was very comfortable in my mesh air pants and my solid textile jacket. I would have been perfect in a mesh jacket, but I haven't bought one yet.

It didn't take but a few miles to reach our first stop, one of the very picturesque high arching bridges, this one probably the most photographed on the Trace. This first bridge crosses TN-96 about five miles from the start. It's an interesting bridge as it sort of seems bizarre to build one so high just for a recreation road, but Matt mentioned that he thought it was easier to build it then to secure easements and land rights to pave a road across the valley. A quick stop here to see the site, and then we jumped back on the bikes.

I believe we only went a few more miles before pulling into another "Historic Site." This one was not marked as to what it was. There was a hiking trail and some sort of marker in the center of the loop road, but we decided to keep on trucking. We headed further South on the awesome road cruising along at the 50mph speed limit. I'm sure it would be more fun at a speed more than that, but at 50mph, it's a very fun and stress relieving ride.

I believe that the next stop we hit was the "Water Valley Overlook." We hung out here for a good little while, just talking about the bikes, about how cool it would be to own one of the nice houses down in the valley, and about how we need to find a sportbike rider, a classic British bike rider, and a souped up Vespa to round out our mixed up biker group. We also talked about the potential for business if an outfit opened up shooting action shoots of cars, motorcycles and bicyclists on the Trace. I think the potential is there. We have some further discussion to make regarding this.

After chilling out for a bike, we looped back around on the access road, and then shot a little further down the road to stop at one of the small waterfalls. We decided to hike down to this one, a very quick stroll down an "unimproved trail" to a small waterfall that was really cool to check out.It was nice and relaxing, the air cooler down the small shaded hill and everyone that was there was obviously enjoying themselves. One other young biker decided to climb almost straight vertically up about 50-60 feet to get back to the trail head, and I must say, I was surprised he made it.

By the time Matt and I had made it back up to the bike, Matt said that he was getting hungry, so we decided to take our chances on food in Hohenwald. We exited the parkway about 50 miles from the start, and almost exactly 2 hours after we started. It was a very relaxed pace, and felt great. Matt seemed to remember Hohenwald having more eating options than it really did, and we rode through town 3 times before deciding to just head to the Hardees/Red Burrito and grabbing some fast food. This was nearly an hour after we got off of the Trace. I think we then hung out in the Hardees for about an hour talking and joking around.

We decided to head North on TN-48, which would give both of us a straight shot to our prospective homes. This stretch of 48 was new to me, and was really nice. Much of it is wooded making for a nice cool ride. As we approached Centerville, where we had decided to stop for gas, Matt waved at me as we slowed to turn onto TN-100. His bike began bucking as we slowed and I assumed he was out of gas, again. I rolled up next time him and he says, "My clutch cable snapped."

We rolled to the side of the road in order to get out of the flow of traffic and began discussing our options. My MSF instructor had mentioned that it was possible to ride a bike without a clutch cable, and that he had done it before, but knowledge and application are not one in the same. We discussed techniques and Matt tried a few. I was quite amusing watching him buck along as he attempted to start the bike in first gear. That was not very successful, so he started it in Nuetral and dropped it into gear. It prompted died, so he reattempted that method, this time pushing the bike to get it rolling before dropping it into gear. This technique worked, and we rode all the way through Centerville to where TN-48 seperates from TN-100 before stopping for gasoline.

After we filled up, I called Karen to let her know I was going to follow Matt home, and then we headed out again. I was tailing Matt in order to keep traffic off of him and we immediately got a truck in between us. I should have taken off faster, but the guy realized that we were together and pulled over to let me pass. The rest of TN-48 to south of Interstate 40 was very smooth, shady, and extremely curvy in spots. Very nice ride!

This is were Matt surprised me. I'm not surprised that he was able to do it, but rather that he was able to time it out so well. As we approached Dickson, I think we were both afraid we'd get stuck at a light. Somehow, Matt was able to find detours, time lights perfectly, and get through holes in traffic without ever coming to a stop until we got to his home in White Bluff. It was awesome. He went some 35 miles without ever coming to a complete stop. Brilliant!

When we got to Matt's place, he invited me in for a drink and to meet the animals. They've got 2 awesome dogs and two pretty cool cats. The "spawn of Satan" cat (Emma?) had me cracking up with the way she was lounging on a chair, acting as if it were her throne. After playing with the dogs for a little bit, I hit the road while Matt worked out with Leslie how to get home after she got a flat at work. The trip home was uneventful, and quicker than I expected, the only pain being that the sun was going down, so for the first part as I headed West I felt a bit blind for a bit. I soon headed North again and the temperature dropped the entire rest of the trip home. Nothing eventful happened until I was maybe 4 blocks from home when a woman decided to take a turn after right hand lane ended and she almost took out a light pole. It was pretty wild, and happened just in front of me.

I literally took two photos all day, in the same place. If I get some more from Matt, I'll be sure to upload them. Again, I don't think either of us got a picture of the bikes together.

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