Thursday was a pretty good ride. I had almost forgot what it was like to ride with fresh legs and a clear head. My biggest thrill of the day was crossing my first time zone. I left the Eastern time zone and headed into the Central time Zone. I danced back and forth over the line playing Back to the Future with the clock on my phone. It’s the simple things in life that make you smile.
Fresh Legs and a Clear Mind
I hit the road around 11:30am. I waited that long because my clothes were drying on the railing of the hotel from the bathtub scrub they got the night before. I had hung them up in the room but they didn’t get totally dry, so I had to wait.
Once I got everything packed up and checked out, I realized my back brake needed tweaking, so I spent about 30 minutes tinkering with that.
On the road, I felt great. My legs were strong from all the food I inhaled the previous 36 hours and my head was crystal. I was cruising down the road at a pretty good speed. One thing that I forgot was the temperature. Leaving that late put me in the middle of the heat of the day. Thankfully it was only in the mid 80′s but I did get a fair amount of sun that I’m paying for today (Sunscreen, dude! It’s in your bag!)
Roll On. Roll Tide.
Coming from the foothillls of Tennessee, I was used to these long drawn out rolling hills. They’re fun to ride. The curvature of them is similar to the naked rear of a woman from head to shoulder: sexy undulations that keep your eyes busy and your mind focused.
It’s strange when you cross state lines. It’s almost like certain things abruptly stop when you go from one to the other. Most of it’s probably mental, but it seems otherwise.
The hills in Georgia are sharper and and more erratic. The long rolling hills of Tennessee were a thing of the past and sharper inclines hit me unexpectedly. So did the monster that is Lookout Mountain. In terms of mountains or inclines, it’s not that bad. It is bad when you’re not expecting it.
I actually love climbing. As I’ve said before, the best part of going up is coming down. There’s also a huge feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top. You get to experience your own “Rocky moment” skipping around and throwing your hands up in the air when you reach the top. That’s a good feeling. Yesterday, I wasn’t expecting it and it kind of ticked me off.
It doesn’t do any good getting frustrated at the terrain. It sure as hell isn’t going to change it. I did anyway and it didn’t change anything.
If you’re a cyclist and you like climbing, check out a buddy’s site, called Steep Climbs. Aaron West has loads of tips, trips, and photos of climbs he has done all accross the region.
The elevation of Lookout Mountain is 1800 feet. I climbed just over a thousand feet to reach the top. Since I wasn’t prepared for it, I also didn’t think I was going to make it up with enough water. I did. I ran out just as I reached the top.
At the top is the Lookout Restaurant. I stopped in to fill up my water bottles and grabbed a menu. If I was hungry at that time, I would have stayed for a meal. Alabama was beckoning me and I heeded her call.
Before I made it up the mountain,the last town that I passed through on the way to Alabama was Menlo, Ga. Along the main street were a thousand plus signs put out to honor American Soldiers.
Back to the Future
Around 5pm I crossed into Alabama. Alabama is the fifth state I have ridden into. That in itself is pretty cool. I have now been in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and now, Alabama.
I stopped and took a picture of the sign as I always have done when I go into a new state. This one was different because on the Alabama sign it tells you that you are now entering the central time zone. I opened my phone and looked at the time. Eastern time was 4 o’clock. I didn’t expect it to change, but I walked past the sign into Alabama just to see.
The sign is at the top of Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain is a long plateau that runs from Chattanooga, Tennnessee to somewhere around thirty miles south of Mentone, Alabama.
Mentone is a small town. According to Bill Thomas, the innkeeper at the Mentone Springs Hotel B&B, there are around 350 people that live here. In the summer, that number surges over a thousand, as people come here to escape the heat of the valley below.
Bill also told me that Mentone is the kind of place that if you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing, walk down the street and ask someone. Everyone knows what the other is supposed to be doing.
The area is also home to half a dozen summer camps. Parents drop their kids off on top of the mountain for a week or two during the summer and then use Mentone as their own getaway spot to eat and shop.
The Desoto State Park is just down the road from here. Apparently there is a lake, waterfalls, hiking and biking trails. I’ll be checking these out the next few days I am here.
Bill asked me to stay for a few days and really soak up all that Mentone, Alabama has to offer. He did this over peach moonshine on the porch of the Mentone Springs Hotel after my dinner at the Wildflower Cafe last night. There’s no better way to twist my arm than with a few glasses of shine. Done deal!
Before I went to dinner, I walked a block down the street to look over the valley below.
After dinner, I walked down to the same spot and found a glowing friend to photo with the same scene in the background.
I think I better watch myself here. When people don’t agree with something here, this is what happens. Looks like this sign is not very popular. It’s filled with bullet holes.
Total Miles Thursday = 43