Day 15 - Sparta, Tennessee

So I'm here in the Red Dot of Quality Motel in Sparta, Tennessee, home of Lester Flatt and Benny Martin. There must be bluegrass juice in the water supply or something. OK, everybody sing "The Ballad of Jed Clampett". Thanks.

My original plan was to make today an easy day of 50 miles, and camp at Cumberland State Park. And then tomorrow, ride a monster 90 miles to Cedars of Lebanon State Forest. However, Allen's cell phone told me that it's going to rain all day tomorrow. So I changed my plan because I'd rather ride longer on a beautiful day like today, and less in the rain tomorrow. So I pushed on for another 30 miles to get here to Sparta, and I got a room. The rain is supposed to start tonight. It should be slacking off mid-day tomorrow, so I'm going to sit tight and watch the weather radar on TV, and take off when there is a break. Tomorrow may be a short day.

The geography of Tennessee totally confuses me. I spent all morning crossing a bunch of little ridges that go from northeast to southwest. Then at Kingston, I crossed the Tennessee River, and rode awhile in the valley, which was nice. However, the road turned west and went up on the Cumberland Plateau. This was about a 1000 foot climb. The plateau is about 40 miles across. The eastern side is very rugged, and the road is very hilly. It smooths out though. Rocky Top must be somewhere on the Cumberland Plateau, because every other business has Rocky Top in its name. The major industry up there is quarrying stone for building. Nice flat stone, golden orange in color.

I came down off the plateau right before Sparta, with five miles of glorious payback, which was great because I had already gone 75 strenuous miles. I feel good.

There's not much out here. I couldn't find any breakfast, and I wound up having two chili dogs at the gas station convenience store ten miles down the road. That did the job for forty more miles, where I found some tasty Mexican food in a strip mall. I was sure I was going to be stuck with fast food. Dinner was a T-Bone right next door at a cafe called Yanni's.

I was looking to make time today, so I was pretty lackadaisacal about taking pictures. But I stopped for some Gatorade, and a fan club appeared.

CrabOrchardFanClub (50K)

The girls had a roadside yard sale set up to raise money for their Brownie troop. They forgot all about it and abandoned it when I came up the hill and pulled into the parking lot. When I left, they went back to their table and continued jumping up and down and screaming at each passing car. These kids all speak with an unbelievably thick southern drawl.

Today I crossed into Central Time. Tonight is also the end of Daylight Savings Time. So now, instead of sunrise at 8:00 am and sunset at 7:00 pm, it's going to be sunrise at 6:00 and sunset at 5:00 pm. I'm never going to be able to get up that early in the morning.

Here's the actual long and winding road for today.

Actual15 (145K)