DAY RIDE 10/25/2008

A New Ride With An Old Friend

October 25, 2008

Tom and I have been talking about going for a ride together for a long time, but have never pulled the trigger. He'd done a bit of riding like me, but not quite the distances. We joked about me only getting to have a gallon of gas to start off with so I didn't take us to Nebraska and back. Well, we finally just set a date, I map out a route and today is the day. Since we are headed sort of west and the Holler was more 'west' than his place, he is coming over to the Holler. And like most fellers that like to ride, he shows up early - which just suits me just fine. He's riding a BMW RT1200 like Guy's except it's a pretty gray/black - quite a contrast to the Arrest Me Red of the Frost.

  Soon we are on the road, headed for breakfast at the Beacon Light Tea Room. Rumor has it that Mr. Loveless, who started the now famous Loveless Cafe, started this one and left the county for some unknown reason. But the grub is good so we are really looking forward to it. We decide the electrics are in order, since it's still early and a bit chilly. As we leave the Holler and run some of my favorite backroads, the fog is pretty thick as it rises off the Harpeth River.

When we stop at the top of the hill on McCrory Lane, he asks me -

"You ever been down that road?" pointing to the one on the right.

"Yep, it's a good one" and I make the turn, departing from the original route. I know where it comes out which will work in where we're going. When we come to a particular turn, I tell Tom -

"That way will take you on a nice road back to Kingston Springs."

Soon we reconnect with Highway 100 where I was headed anyway, and make a left on highway 96. Off of 96, I turn onto Old Harding Road (lots of local roads have that same name) to Fernvale. It's a nice ride, but the fog makes me extra watchful for deer moving about. It's these kind of early foggy mornings that they like to move under the cover.


We make a few turns to get to the road I'm looking for and the highway department has left us a unpleasant surprise - fresh chip and seal covered with lots of gravel. It was only in patches a few weeks ago so I hope we will ride out of. I know Tommy used to ride in the dirt, so I figure we'll motor along for while and see how it goes. But it doesn't get any better so I finally come to a stop. I ask him -

"You okay with this?"

"Yep, it'll be okay" he tell me.

"Well, I know some folks don't like it. I don't prefer it either, but it's a bit like a bank robbery - don't nobody make no sudden moves and won't nobody get hurt" I say.

We both laugh and then get back to the slipping and sliding. Finally we come to the t-junction and we are out of the mess and back on good pavement. Once we get out to highway 100 I hit the remains of some dead critter in the road and my electrical gremlin is back. I lose my taillights, my horn, my gauges, my neutral indicator and few other things. It's frustrating, but not show stopping so I keep cooking. Before long we arrive at the Tea Room, only to find they don't open til 9 AM and here it is a little after 8 AM.

"Well, I'm really batting a thousand today. First I run you over a nasty gravel road then the restaurant is closed" I tell him..

Tom says -

"But I know of a good place in Fairview."

"Well, lead on chief. I'm following you" I add.

He takes us to a little place he often frequents called the Country Cafe. They must know him pretty well, cause the lady brings him his coffee and water as soon as she seems him. It's one of those local places where the grub is good and the prices are reasonable. I notice that they have tenderloin, so my choice is easy. Add some biscuits, gravy and eggs with that and you have got the real deal. We place our orders and talk a little about our different backgrounds, the rides we've been on and other such stuff. We do make a deal not to talk about business since this is supposed to be stress relief not stress inducing.


The food is excellent and he takes the bill while I protest. But I do tell him -

"Be that way then, but lunch is on me."

When we go back outside, I decide I'll try a quick fuse replacement to see if the gremlin has left. But unfortunately the fuse blows again as soon as I switch on the key. At least the short seems to be permanent, so maybe I can find it for sure when I get back to the Holler. Tom really likes my Whelen LED on the back of Frost so I promise to get him the ordering information. He sits on my Russell, he says -

"I see how you can do all of those miles now."

We kid each other about the pros and cons of both bikes and really have a good laugh when some folks walk by. They look at my ST1100 and say -

"Boy, that sure is a pretty bike."

I thank them and when they leave I tell Tom -

"Just think, here I sit with a design from 1991 and the folks like it better than a brand new design."

He's of the same option as me that the new bikes - Honda, BMW, Yamaha, etc. have all adopted the 'mad bird' look and it is just not appealing to the average feller on the street.


But daylight's wasting, so we mount up and head down highway 100 to a little road that I like a lot. Highway 230 is a sweet piece of pavement that runs over to highway 50 with lots of good sweepers. We take it right though the little town of Little Lot, then zip along highway 50 under the Trace to get to highway 247. Highway 247 is another one of those great patches of asphalt with ups and downs and plenty of curves. It runs a good distance across Middle Tennessee through Spring Hill, but we'll be leaving it a little early today. We go through places named Flat Creek, Cross Keys, Riggs Crossroads (the oldest continuously used road in Middle Tennessee), and on to Chapel Hill, in my home county. Chapel Hill is the somewhat disputed birthplace of General Nathan Bedford Forrest perhaps one of the most misunderstood but brilliant Confederate generals to sit in a saddle. We make a quick stop just outside of Chapel Hill for fuel and a hydraulic brake. Then it's down Verona road, where Andy Derryberry, another riding friend since bicycle days grew up. It's a great ride with risers and sweepers and brings us right into my hometown of Lewisburg. When we stop for a moment at a traffic light, I tell Tom -

"None of this was here when I was a kid. This was just cow pastures."

"Yep, I can see that. It's all pretty much new construction" he tells me.

Lewisburg's big claim to fame is that it is the home of the National Registry of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Back when I was a kid, the National Celebration was always held here but the city 'controllers' (as nice as I can put it) would not build a stadium for it so it was moved to Shelbyville (pronounced 'Shovel' by the locals) when they said that they would. I point the headquarters out when we pass and tell Tom the short story at the next traffic light. Before long we are on Springplace Pike, the road that leads to my maternal grandparent's old farm and the first place that I lived. The old '4 rooms and a path' place that sheltered me has been torn down, but we stop anyway. I point over to a big rock and tell Tom -

"That's where the outhouse was. The old house sat just right over there. That little brick house my granddaddy built. Looks like they've torn down the well house."

"Why would anybody tear down a well?" he wonders.

"Don't make no sense to me. City water I guess but it was one of the best in the county - cold, clear water from a limestone well" as I remember well from my childhood.

There's a lot of memories for me here, when I ran the hills and swung on the grapevines and such. Now it all belongs to people I don't even know and they sure wouldn't know me. But we need to keep moving, so I lead on out - knowing we are fixin' to come to some mighty fine curves. As we climb the big hill after a couple of sweet sweepers, I can't help but remember the story that goes with the hill. There was a local feller who had a reputation for wives and mother-in-laws mysteriously dying after large insurance policies were taken out on them. Everybody suspected what was happening, but he was pretty slick - until one particular day. Seems he had killed his current wife and set fire to the car and was trying to push it back down this hill. Unfortunately for him, he got caught before he was successful - which put an end to his money making habits. Also on this road we pass the official city of Possum Trot. I tell Tom -

"Right up that road which used to be gravel, I went to get my hair cut when I was a kid."


A little further along we stop in a church parking lot and I point out the graves of my mother's family up on the hilltop in the cemetery.

"My momma's folks used to live up in the surrounding hollers and my dad is buried here. I actually knew 3 sets of my great grandparents. They all married young back in those days, Up around the corner my great, great granddaddy that fought in the Civil War is buried. But we probably won't go that way today."

As it turns out, Tom never knew any of his great grandparents. Which makes me even more cognizant of the privilege that I had as kid, reaching that far back into history.

We take a little jig on highway 129 then a hard right on Yell Road. This is sweet run up to the top of Yell Hill and we go by Bivins Road, named for one of my other great grandfathers and great uncles. I don't know how much land they owned in the hollers, but between them it was a bunch. It's left the on the bypass and back down 31A to Cornersville - a little town where my momma went to school. A quick tuck up over the Lynnville Hill and we are in the big, little town of Lynnville and home of the Soda Pop Junction , a place I've been before.


I tell Tommy -

"This is place where all the other folks come to take pictures of hamburgers for their ads!"

He happens to notice that Colonel Littleton, "purveyor of fine accouterments in the Americana tradition" has opened a shop next door. The Colonel lives in the area so it makes pretty good sense to me. Tom bought a really nice money clip from him, so we wander over before we eat to check things out. It is a place that speaks of things that are made with the highest attention to detail. None of the stuff is really fancy, just very tastefully done and well made - and not expensive when you consider the quality that is apparent. Across the street is a railroad museum and the old train station. Most of old Lynnville was burned down during the Civil War, and what is here now was built back when the railroad came through. Also, the founder of Mars Candy (Frank Mars) had a large farm in the area that is now being turned into an upscale development.


But it's time to get some grub, so we make our way into the restaurant.

"You want a booth or a table?" I ask Tom.

"A booth will be fine" he says.

So we wander over to one in the middle. A young lady who is all smiles comes right over, ready to take our order.

"I'll have the 1/2 pound burger with cheese and bacon and extra mayo. Now that's a heart attack on a plate. And I'll take a small order of onion rings, a Diet Coke and a chocolate shake. " I tell her. "And give the check to me."

She just smiles and gets it all down.

"Just double that but leave off the extra mayo" Tom tells her.

We talk about the ride today and just how much fun it has been. We've set a good pace that has been comfortable for both of us and have covered a lot of good roads. Soon the food comes and it lives up to my advance billing. They offer a double 1/2 pounder - 2 1/2 pound patties on a bun that is too big to fit into anybody's mouth. But even the 1/2 pounders we get have to be squashed to get a good bite. Sufficiently stuffed with the last slurp of the shakes and the last bite of the burgers, I waddle over to the counter to pay. The young feller asks me -

"How was it?"

"Great as usual. Do y'all provide wheelbarrows to haul us out?" I ask him.

He just laughs and we settle up. Once Tom and I are back at the bikes I ask him -

"We could just jump back on the slab and head for the house or we can head up 166 and jump on the Trace back to Nashville."

"I can always ride the slab, so let's do the Trace" he tells me.

"Well, I'm looking for a short cut, so I hope I can find it" I warn him.

Soon we pass through Waco and onto to Yokely road, then 166 which takes us through the center of Mount Pleasant. When we stop at a traffic light, I tell him -

"Over there used to Snuffy's, another good burger and shake place. But it closed down a while back."

Once we come to 412, I find the back road I'm looking for that should take us to the Trace. There's a couple of turnoffs that we make just fine and it does take is directly to the Trace like the maps show. Tom swears that he hears the banjos from Deliverance playing a time or two. We now have only one small problem - they never built the access road to get on the Trace like the maps and the GPS show us. There's the bridge but it would be a mighty tough hill climb. We take a little side road looking for way to cut over but it just ain't there. I even do a little 'woods' checking to see if we can motocross our way over - but it's just too iffy.

"Oh well, it was a mighty nice road to get here. I guess it's back to 412 and we can get on there" I tell him.

So we work our way back to 412 and soon we are on the Trace making our way north toward Nashville.

  We pretty much have it all to ourselves which makes for a nice way to end the day. When we get close to SheBoss Place, Tom speeds up ahead and points out the bridge that we were under trying to get on the Trace.

We encounter a few turkeys and deer, but gladly they all stay in their places on the sides of the road. Soon we come to the high bridge at highway 96 and Tom signals to pull over there. We take one last rest break before we split up.

"Well, Tom, how many miles will you have when you get back to the house" I ask.

"About 305" he says with a grin.

We were supposed to do about 220 according to my 'route' so I just kind of laugh.

"That just goes to show you can't trust a feller on an ST1100" I tell him.

He ribs me a bit about it, then I give him a big hug and say -.

"We'll do this again before too long. It's been a great day."

"Yep, the most fun I've had riding in a long time" he says.

"Me, too. Now don't forget to take your honey down to the hamburger place so you can earn a few brownie points" I tell him.

With that we mount up and carefully make our separate ways home. As I pull into the Holler, I say to myself -

"Yep, it has been a great day."

Good friends, good riding, good weather, good food, good bikes...

Great memories!

And memories are the one thing that we will have when the world has stripped all else away from our feeble, clutching grasp.