Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Little Background...

Back in the seventies and eighties, I rode bicycles... a lot. It all started in 1973 when I felt compelled one Saturday morning to ride my beautiful 1973 Schwinn Sunset Orange P15-9 from Kodak, TN to Sevierville, TN.

Not Me
That's not me in the picture - my bike was like the Orange one below the dude with the sweater . I never had that much hair and I never tied a sweater around my neck - in public. But hey.. that is the model of bike that I had. It weighed 28 pounds - naked. It costs $450 (msrp) back in 1973.
Bike Like mine in 1973
That seems cheap but in todays dollars, that would be a $2,400 bike! Back then State Route 66 from Kodak to Sevierville was a two lane curvy and bumpy road. I must have averaged around 4 mph because it seems like it took me around two hours to cover the 8.6 miles. Today Route 66 is a four-lane (soon to be 6-lane) autobahn that is bumper to bumper most of the time ferrying people from I-40 to Dollywood, Taffy Stores and Outlet Malls in Pigeon Forge. Some people might even make it to Gatlinburg. In 1973, Pigeon Forge was a place you stayed if Gatlinburg was full. Today it seems, Gatlinburg is an excursion you take when you vacation in Pigeon Forge. On Sunday morning, everyone decides to go home at the same time - effectively turning Northbound Route 66 into a giant parking lot. I was so worn out after my arduous 8.6 miles ( 1/11 century-ride) that I hitched a ride home with Poddy's Mother, Lillian, who was buying groceries at Latham's IGA in Pigeon Forge. Granted, it wasn't a ride to brag about but it was enough to hook me on bicycle touring. Over the years - mostly in the early eighties - I made three long tours and several short ones. Bill Robbs and I made the first trip from Rock Spring to Panama City Beach. That's the trip I'm going to try to re-trace. Prior to that trip, Bill and I thought it would be a good idea to ride from Chattanooga to Atlanta for "training" purposes. That proved to be a disaster - at least for me. Riding shirtless in the summer heat, I got tangled up with a dog south of Calhoun GA. My bike flipped and I hit the rough asphalt. After Bill gave me a peroxide bath at a convenience store, we went on toward Atlanta. I didn't make it. Somewhere in North Marietta, I gave up. Bill went on and met our ride and they picked me up on the way home. The next year Bill, Jack Goodlet and I rode from Rock Spring to Hilton Head. The year after that, Jack, David and Vickie Moseley and myself took an unusual trip. We boxed up our bikes and boarded Am-Track in Atlanta. We got off the train in Washington DC, checked our bikes in at the Greyhound station and then toured The Mall. Later that night we took the Greyhound to Virginia Beach and re-assembled our bikes under a street light. After a night in Virginia Beach, we headed for the Outer Banks where we island hopped our way south. We eventually ended up in Myrtle Beach SC. A few years later, Dan Kauffelt and I rode from Chattanooga to Gatlinburg. It was a tough two day ride for me. On another trip, my other cousin, Alan Bullard, Jack and myself rode from Orlando to Tampa. For whatever reason, I drifted away from cycling for several decades. About five years ago, I had an adult student in my Network Operating Systems class. She mentioned that she was a cyclist and one thing led to another.  Betty Boudreau and I have been fair weather riders for the last five years. I am going to try to complete this trip in eight days. I will need to average 48 miles per day. I really don't know if I'll even make the first day. My knees are the unknown factor. If the knees hold up, I should make it. Thanks to my old college friend Dene Land for motivating me to train with weights and to Stephen Rucker for bringing me up to speed on modern bycycling. I'll be posting daily updates as I go along. Wish me Luck!

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