What A Day For A Ride

January 11, 2014

I've got some chores I ought to do, but the weather weenies say it's supposed to get up to 60 degrees today. How often will I get a day like this in January? I figure I can do chores when it's cold and rainy, so I tell my lovely wife, Sharyn -

"I'm off like a dirty shirt. I'll see you some time this evening."

After all these years, she understands my need for me to get my head in the wind. SweetTreat gets the nod today so I'm out to the stable to mount up.

I don't really know where I'm going, but I do know I need to get gas and some fuel for myself. There's a Shell station two miles from the Holler that has a few breakfast sandwiches, so it'll do. After filling SweetTreat, I snag a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, some milk and a banana for me. I've been having trouble with muscle cramps, so I now try to eat at least one banana a day.
As I munch, I try to sort out where I'd like to go - which is a great problem to have. Surrounding the Holler are all sorts of great roads to chose from, so I run through my head ones that I haven't been on for a while. I decide north instead of south today and head for River Road which is real close from where I sit. There's a reason for the name - it plays tag with the Cumberland River and runs up and down the ridges.
It has some mighty fine twists and turns and really good pavement which makes it a joy to ride - if you like that sort of stuff.
Instead of turning left and heading west, I decide I'll go right and make a big loop north, east, south, then west, avoiding Nashville proper. I've not done that ride in a while so we'll see how well my synapses synapse and my rememberer remembers. I may not remember people's names but I usually don't forget roads. This takes me through the town of Ashland City. There used to be a killer good dairy dip here but the owners finally gave up and now there's a chain restaurant in it's place. They had some of the best pork tenderloin sandwiches that you ever stuck between your teeth.
Outside of town, I hit Bear Wallow Road, another one of my favorite runs.
I'm sort of on automatic pilot as I just turn where the brain says turn, enjoying each road as I come to them.
A lot of the back roads just follow alongside the creeks and rivers which make for great motorcycling. Creeks have never been known for running straight ...

As I pass by a familiar historical plaque, I can't help but smile. It reads -

Big South Tunnel

On August 12, 1862 2.7 miles north of here, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders, aided by the citizens of Gallatin, demolished the Big South Tunnel on the Louisville & Nashville railroad by crashing a locomotive into a barrier of timbers. The resulting explosion, fires and collapse of the tunnel cut off United States Army supply lines to Nashville for 98 days.

You have to give Morgan credit - he was pretty creative working with what he had to work with. Sometimes when the subject of the Civil War comes up, folks think we in the South are constantly 'refighting it'. They don't seem to understand that a lot of it took place right in our backyards and in our fields - which makes it much more interesting to us. Only Virginia had more battles fought in the state than Tennessee, so there are lot of these historical plaques around.

And here's the railroad that he shut down that day - still in use.
I wander down some two lanes that are probably not in any 'motorcycle' ride list, but they are pretty sweet. I'm blessed to have many of these 'filed away' in my head and can stitch quite a few of them together to make for an interesting ride.
My stomach tells me it's time for some fuel and SweetTreat could stand a little herself. So as I pass through Westmoreland, I find one handy and make a stop.
Just east of Westmoreland is another on of my favorite roads - highway 141.
It is a fine set of twists and turns and elevation changes - just the sort of thing a rider looks for.
As I get south of Hartsville, I pass this tragic scene. This was one of those lovely old country houses and I can still smell the smoke.
And unfortunately, a little farther along I smell the 'smoke' of progress.
Unfortunately, 'progress' has started to straighten out this lovely road, destroying the old road as it does. I know it will become just another 2 lane straight piece of asphalt. I guess that will make some folks happy, but sure makes me sad. I feel like I am losing an old friend as the original road is disappearing. It makes me really glad that I came this way today. The next time come here, the road will probably be nice, shiny, and straight - about as much fun to ride as hitting your thumb with a hammer.
Fortunately, they don't have enough money or desire to 'progress' all the roads, so there will be plenty of curves for me for quite a while.
My meandering takes me along the Caney Fork River and up towards the Center Hill Dam.
Center Hill Lake is 190 feet at it's deepest point and home to lots of water recreation and fishing. The dam, built in 1948 is an imposing structure currently undergoing a repair program.
There also just happens to be a wonderful section of Highway 96 that runs above the reservoir that is less than straight.
And it runs for a pretty nice distance to boot.
I figure it's time for a break, so I pull into a little shop for fuel in Woodbury. Best I remember, the local constabulary are pretty vigilant, so I really behave myself.
  On my way down highway 53, I decide I'll do a little exploring when I come to what looks like an interesting road. I figure sooner or later I'll cross a road that I know and pick it up from there. It's a good road, but the pavement could use a little work.  
  Sure enough, this road runs into Highway 280 which I am very familiar with. From it, I know the route I'll take back to the Holler. I include a little run up and over Pull Tight Hill while I'm at it.  
  As I ease through Spring Hill, unfortunately the traffic picks up. I can remember years ago before Saturn came here, you would be lucky to see one car on this road.  
  As I get closer to the Holler, I pass one of my favorite old country homes still standing.  
  This area has turned into a 'high rent' district as some folks have more money in their fences than most folks have in their entire place.  
And some folks even have nice fountains to look at ...
  As I make my way back along another section of Highway 96, I pass under the amazing Natchez Trace bridge. It is so tall that you can easily see it from the seat of a commercial airliner if you are positioned just right.  
  A few more twists and turns and I am back to my beloved Holler. I've logged over 300 plus miles - and a lot more smiles - today. I figure that ain't too bad for the first ride of the year.