Day 13

Thursday, 7 Jun 2007
  Townsend, TN to Athens, TN
78.1 miles, 6h44m, 11.5 mph
Elapsed Time: 8h53m, Max speed: 37.5mph
Total Climbing: 4281ft, Max elevation: 2513ft
Total mileage: 810.4

Copyright 2002 DeLorme. Topo USA. Data copyright of content owner.

What a day! The weather was perfect. It might have been hot, but I'm pretty used to it.

There is a bike path that runs along the main road in Townsend, so I took that until it ran out. Then I crossed the river on to the Old Walland Road. I expected this to intersect the Foothills Parkway, but...

D'oh! I want to be up there!

So I had to ride all the way into Walland, then cross the river and ride back on the highway to reach the entrance to the Foothills Parkway. The Foothills Parkway was Tennessee's answer to the Blue Ridge Parkway, except that it is way less impressive. It is run by the Park Service, but of the original planned 70 miles, only about 22 miles have ever been finished. There are 18 miles in the segment I rode today, and 4 miles way out at the other end east of here. Then there's the partially finished section just east of here. The state resumed working on it a couple of years ago and they expect to be done in about 15 years. There are other sections that have never gotten that far. The local cyclists like to ride the unfinished section on Sundays, when there are no dump trucks.

This is the west entrance to the unfinished section.

I had to climb for about 5 miles at the start and then more as I went along. A local rider caught me on the climb and rode along with me for a while. Hearing me wheezing, he asked me if I wore a heart rate monitor. I said no, I don't want to know.

Looking west from the Foothills. No mountains!

There are some good views from the Parkway, but nothing compared to what I've been seeing. Eventually I descended for several miles and was dumped out on US129 along one of those TVA lakes.

This is the lake behind the Chilhowee Dam.

It was right at the Chilhowee Dam that Linda found me. She had flown in to Chattanooga in the morning and was working her way back up my route. We had spoken on the phone while I was climbing on the Foothills, but cell coverage was spotty so it came down to actually finding me. She took my bags and headed off to explore the Foothills Parkway, while I continued west. We made arrangements to meet for lunch.

Lunch was at a real classy pizza joint in Venore on US441. After an ample meal I headed off down the road. US441 was busy but had a large shoulder. The only problem was a brutal headwind. The wind slowed me down, but it also kept me cool. Apparently the temperature was near 90, but it didn't seem that hot to me.

Linda and I met again in Madisonville, the next town down the line. I attempted to continue down US441, but ran into a very annoying construction area. Heavy traffic, two lanes, no shoulder. I started by riding down the gravel bed intended for 2 new lanes. It was slow going.

Not good times.

All bad things must come to an end, but they don't have to get better. In this case, the construction got even worse, to the point where it wasn't really rideable at all. So I turned west into the Tennessee back country. Linda stayed with me in the rental car. At first she went ahead, but then she followed close behind me to protect me from dogs.

Pretty country. Kind of hilly though.

Linda following me on dog patrol.

Linda saved me from several dogs, some of which I didn't even know about. There was the white dog that gave up at first, but then resumed the chase when some other dog mocked it. Linda hit the horn and the dog backed off. Then there was another little dog right after that. And I guess a couple of big dogs that I didn't know about. Linda thought she was going to have to run one of them over, but they backed off before that became necessary. Isn't Linda great? She would kill dogs for me (if necessary).

By the way, I still have my one shot of pepper spray left but I noticed it is "Best if used before June 2005." I imagine any dog I sprayed would only be lightly seasoned.

Since our jaunt through the countryside was on the fringes of my map, there were some "issues." Mistakes were made, wrong turns were executed. But eventually we reached Athens and checked in at the motel. It was a long, hard day.

Tomorrow is my last day of riding. I'm ready for the trip to end and to get back to normal life. On to Chattanooga!


"Blue Ridge Tour 2007" Copyright © 2007 By Bob Clemons. All rights reserved.