Middle and Eastern Tennessee wore me out. Sunday got off to a bad start because I wasn't three miles into the day and I ran over something that cut a 1 inch gash in through both the tire and tube of the trailer. Replacing the tube was easy, but the tire was an issue. I glued and taped the tire together to try to create something that would hold a shape until I could get to Cleveland.
Sunday was brutal. It was hot and there was a lot of climbing as made my way to Smithville. In Sparta, I made a decision that I would kind of regret. I decided to push to Fall Creek Falls State Park. It was another 30 miles or so and would put me closer to Cleveland in the morning. I did not realize that there was going to be a climb of over 2200 feet to slow me down. By the time I got to the turn off for the park I was toast. I stopped at an inn and had dinner with a family from Greensboro. My plan to camp across the street in the community center was spoiled by a sketchy car parked there. So I rode the 4 miles to the campground at Fall Creek Falls-- in the dark. I never like to ride after dark, even though I have lights. But I made it. The campground was nice enough and the park has lots to offer-- waterfalls, a golf course, hiking and backpacking.
Monday was more of the same. I got an awesome downhill to come out of the Cumberland Plateau and a break in Pikeville, but then it was more climbing (photo below)to get to Dayton. 6 miles, 2000 feet and lots of heat. From Dayton, it was about 30 miles to Cleveland. I had to hustle because I wanted to get there before the bike shop closed. I spent all my energy trying to make it to the shop, which I did. They were super nice at Scott's Bikes and let me hang out and cool off. And I got to replace that tire on the trailer.
Yesterday was another day that involved lots of climbing. And descending. And then more climbing. I followed the Ocoee River, which I've rafted a few times and which hosted the whitewater competition during the 1996 Olympics. Did you know it was the first Olympic competition held on a natural river? The ride was fine, it was the traffic that was bad. The trucks gave me no room, I was run off the road twice! I've gotten comfortable being passed by 18-wheelers, but these trucks far surpassed my comfort level. They literally scared me off the road.
But I did break into North Carolina. It was nice to smell my homestate. I love the Smokies. I wasn't in North Carolina for long. Dropped down US 19 towards Blairsville, GA. My third state of the day. More up and down. Luckily, my brother found me along the road. He took the trailer and panniers off me and it's amazing how much more efficient I am without the extra weight. I met him down the road at a campground where we set up for the night. Vogel State Park is an excellent park that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a nice outing.