I drove about 185 miles from Conway, Arkansas, to Lakeland, Tennessee. Lakeland is very near Memphis. In fact, it may be considered a suburb of Memphis, but it is far enough out that there are a lot of country roads to ride on. Also, there is a bike club that has put up some rides on MapMyRide.com which was the basis for the rides I have made for myself. The neat thing is their rides start less than a mile from the campground so I can just ride up to their starting point.
The weather today was wonderful with a temperature of 68° and just a little wind. By the end of the ride it had dropped to about 62°, but that is still great riding weather. The sun was out, but my ride took me through a lot shady spots like this “canopy of trees.”
I arrived at the campground about 11:30 a.m. and talked for a long time to the campground manager and a friend of hers so I ended up killing about a half hour. Then when I was setting up the motorhome, I took my time and did some things I had been wanting to do so it took me a lot longer to set up than usual. I had hoped to be on a ride by 1:00 but it was almost 2:00 before I left on my ride. Just before I left, I checked and found out sunset is 4:50. That’s when I got a little worried about how much time I needed for my 43+ mile ride. With the pictures I take and other stops, it would normally take me about 3½ or more hours to complete the ride. However, on the last couple of rides, my speed has picked up…I hope this isn’t something temporary and I really am improving my riding.
Anyway, I looked online to see if there were any shortcuts I could take in case I felt like I wouldn’t make it back before dark. I identified a couple – one was just past MM10 and the other was at MM16.
My first decision point would, shown in the picture at the left, would have given me about 30 miles for the day. Of course, all these checks were taking precious minutes away from my riding. I decided to go to the next “shortcut” at MM16. When I got there, I found out that the road was not paved. It looked good, but I opted to press on with my original 43-mile ride. I was averaging over 17 mph. I think there might have been a little wind in my sails. Right after the last decision point, I turned south into the wind and my pace slowed a bit, but I still thought I would be able to make it. The picture on the right is just for James and the one on the left is just for Emily…The Jersey in Tennessee
I took very few pictures and I only stopped a couple of times to take a quick assessment of how much time before sunset and my estimated time for completing the ride. I was, as they say, dancing on the pedals going up the hills and trying to keep my speed up. I finished the ride at approximately 4:45 just 5 minutes before the sun set. I took this picture of the sun as it was sinking low and the picture of my trusty mount and myself as we looked at the end of the ride. I was proud to complete the ride with a speed of 16 mph! Maybe someday, I will be able to ride with the “big boys.” In the meantime, I am having a ball.