Last weekend I had the opportunity to explore new roads when we took a trip out to eastern TN to see family. Using Strava segments as a guide, I scoped out some local climbs and planned a route. Strava’s routing is still obviously in beta mode as I couldn’t get it to work very well, so I fell back to RideWithGPS. RWGPS works fairly well, I do have some complaints about the interface, but it helped me figure out a route for packing in the most elevation in a 2h ride. However, on closer look, RWGPS would have taken me down a non-existent road. Tip: Scope out your sight-unseen routes with Google Maps and Streetview. You’ll learns some things, like road surface, shoulders yes/no and whether the road actually exists or not!
I decided on a main loop (which climbed over one of the local “ribbon mountains” in two places) with some options off of that to take up the slack if I made the main loop faster than originally planned. Generally, that’s how it worked out, and I got what was some good elevation gain for just a 30 mi ride before breakfast. (Strava link at the end if you’d like to see the route)
Yes that’s right – I got up on Saturday like it was a workday – 6am – to get a ride in.
I like most everything about a summer morning ride. It’s cool, low traffic, and you get to see the sun rise. You’re not battling heat and having to worry about finding gallons of water, or using lots of electrolyte tabs.
It’s just so darn early!
On the way out, catching the sunrise near a local church:
Typical secondary roads in this area. Not much shoulder but very smooth.
One of the climbs, headed up Old Decatur Rd (eastward climb). I had actually been on this climb a few years before, and it’s amazing how different things are when re-visiting a stretch of road after putting in the training hours. I used to really struggle up this. Now I was doing repeats!
Coming over the west side of the “mountain” looking towards Athens, TN and beyond.
On the loop again in the reverse direction. Here I am about to turn left onto Coile Rd (SR 114), which I thought was a bit tougher in sections than Old Decatur.
On Coile Rd headed west. At this point I heard what sounded like the noise of a logging operation in the distance. Right after this photo a logging truck passed me. I was a little nervous knowing how narrow the road was and hoped I didn’t see anyone else up the climb.
Thankfully all the other workers and their vehicles were in the woods so I was able to climb up and over without issue. Here’s another pic of the climb. I would call this a tertiary road for quality but still not too bad compared to typical SC roads.
Back down the other side of the hill to Rocky Mountain Rd (SR 130):
Continuing on the loop past another local church. I really like getting photos of these small rural churches, they have so much more character than big city mega churches.
One of the few turtles I saw that had survived a road crossing:
Having done the main loop twice I headed east to the area where one of my relatives had a house (to see if I could remember where it was) … but had to turn around as I was running out of time. Two quick pics of the view back west, towards the “mountain” where I had been doing repeats.
Check out the shoulder! Wish we had roads like this back home. Smooth, wide and room to get out of the way of drivers.
Gratuitous shot of my road bike ready to go:
Almost back to the hotel, sun is getting higher and it’s getting warmer out. Time for breakfast!
When I originally looked at the Strava segments, I saw what looked like some impressive times. My contributions to the leaderboards were both good news and bad news. Good news, as I was in the top 10. Bad news, as there were less than ten people who attempted! What a laugh. I was either last or next to last. Someone has to make everyone else look good I guess 🙂