We all know that what goes up must come down, both in life and in hills I encounter on the road. When I woke up in Greenville, Tennessee yesterday morning I was not in a good mood. I have no idea why really, but I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to pack my things, I didn’t want to have breakfast and I definitely didn’t want to get on my bike and cycle. But I did, because it’s what I do. I knew that I had a pretty short day ahead of me, just 60 km to Bean station where I planned to stop for the day. I knew it was going to be a hot day, with up to 36 degrees celsius in the afternoon so that is why I’m keeping to short days and I start riding as soon as the sun goes up. I talked to my mom and said that I felt lazy for being finished for the day by 11-12 already, but that is silly. 60 km is a good distance, and I like having all afternoon to myself.
But anyway. I headed out of Greenville and google maps kept wanting me to follow the smaller roads, but I wasn’t having it. There was a highway heading straight north towards Bean station that had a nice wide shoulder, and after a while there was even a sign that said that it was actually a bicycle route, so take that google! I can make up my own mind. Sometimes.
The heat was pretty intense even in the morning hours, but I was making very good speed and was at Bean Station at 11 in the morning already. The last few kilometers to the tiny city were amazing, just by a lake and I was stunned by its beauty.
Boys collecting garbage by the road. On their vests it said “I am a drunk driver” so I didn’t really have to guess why they were out there…
It felt good to have arrived so early, especially since the heat climbed to 97F/36C later that day. Way too hot to be out cycling… But the hotel, um. I felt like I would leave having been bitten by fleas or bedbugs or something other disgusting. I was not a fan, but I didn’t really have any other option. At least it was cheap. I took a ride in the afternoon trying to find a place to swim, but it was all “private property” and “no trespassing” so no such luck. It’s really making me miss the Swedish everyman’s rights. But I got to ride my bike unloaded and wow, it was so strange. It almost felt wobbly because I’m so used to the extra weight.
Despite the status of the hotel, I slept okay that night and was up before sunrise as usual. After a delicious pizza breakfast I set off, knowing that I would have to climb a hill pretty early in the day. It looked very steep according to google maps, so I had already settled for that this would be another hiking day. But sometimes I’m wrong. I started slowly cycling up the hill, and it went perfectly fine. I just kept on going and before I knew it I was standing at the top looking at the sunrise.
And as I stood there, I started crying. I cried because I was happy. I cried because it was so beautiful. I cried because I felt so incredibly strong, and because I’m actually doing this adventure, despite struggling from time to time. I just felt so thankful. And then came the downhill and I just kept crying because wow, Northeastern Tennessee is beautiful. Yes, I cry a lot, but these were happy tears so everything’s fine!
A fog arrived after that as you can see, and just made the day even more beautiful. It also made the temperature drop, which is the reason I’m loving whenever there’s a fog now.
There were a lot of hills today. A lot. I’ll show you the graph later, but I think I climbed almost 800 meters in total. And I cycled every last bit of them, which really boosted my confidence. In my favorite movie “Into the Wild” there is a quote which I kept repeating in my head throughout the day:
“It is important in life not to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once. If you want something in life, reach out and grab it.”
Right now, I’m feeling very strong, and I’m measuring myself daily.
The day was simply amazing, and the most beautiful views so far. Once the fog went away it got pretty hot again though, so I was sweating buckets. So attractive when your shirt is completely soaked, don’t you think?
When I was almost at Middlesboro which would be my stop for the day, I came upon a tunnel. A tunnel that was forbidden for me. Despite that I kept going, and came upon someone who worked there just before the beginning. He jumped out of his pickup truck and moments later my bike and trailer was loaded onto it, and I got to ride next to him in the car through the tunnel. Apparently they get plenty of cyclists each day, and they would rather give us a ride than have us ride through a dark tunnel with nowhere to escape. Thank you very much for that!
I was dropped off on the other side, and was officially in Kentucky! Woho, state number three!
After that it was just a short ride into town, where I stopped for a milkshake before continuing on to my hotel. It was only 10:30 (!!) but they were super nice and let me check in early. They usually let me do that, and I am so thankful for that. Now I’ve spent the afternoon by the pool, with my hand washed clothes drying next to me. Luxury with pool and hotel, but the clothes kind of reveals my status of homelessness…
Tonight I’ll go to the mall right across the street to see a movie, and feel like a normal person. Going to the cinema is my favorite activity at home, so I can’t wait! And yes, of course it’s Jurassic World I’ll be seeing… I’ve been excited about it for months!
Tomorrow I’ll continue my journey north, and the plan is to reach London, Kentucky.
Honk if you see me on the road!