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Day 17 - 24 Coast To Coast 1999 by Eric K. Andersen (click on images to see larger pictures)

Day 17 Oak Ridge, TN I went through a town called Wartburg today and entered the Central Time Zone. I wanted to get to Cookeville so that I could make it to Nashville the next day. It was a long day of rolling hills. I made it to Cookeville around 6pm and as I was checking my map to find the road to the interstate, another bicyclist appeared behind me. I asked him for directions and he offered to ride the back road with me towards the motel strip. As he was about to leave me he invited me to his home for dinner. It was an offer I couldn't refuse. Gary invited me into his home and introduced me to his wife Melba. They asked me if I would like to spend the night and once again I accepted. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and hospitality. Gary gave me a Team Sumo T-shirt that his riding team created. I enjoyed a great dinner and Gary and I exchanged cycling trip stories. I hope I'm lucky enough to meet more people as great as Gary and Melba during the rest of my journey. Total Miles: 87
Day 18 Cookeville, TN After a quick breakfast I said good-bye to my generous hosts and hit the road west. Except for a large downhill after Chesnut Mound it was mostly rolling. I passed the 1000 mile mark of my journey before I got into Lebanon for lunch. I continued on 70N for Nashville. The road was heavily trafficked and the shoulder was poor to nonexistent so the going was slow and careful. Finally as I got into Hermitage I caught a glimpse of the Nashville skyline, but I was still 10 miles away. I made it into downtown Nashville and turned up Broadway. Live country music blasted from the clubs. I made it to my friend Peter's around 7:30. Total Miles: 89
Day 19 Nashville, TN I spent the day hanging around the office/home of my friend Peter who is in the process of putting together a feature film as well as a weekly TV series. That night we went to TheExit/In music club to hear Billy Block's Western Beat Roots Revival. We heard Don Walser, The Pavarotti of the Plains sing songs about John Deere and  whiskey drinking. Audrey Malone performed jazzy western country swing. Billy Burnette who once played with Fleetwood Mac carried the Rock & Roll torch lit by his family, the Burnette Brothers. Radney Foster, half of Foster & Lloyd debuted material from a new solo album. All in all a great night of music. 5 bands - 5 bucks. Cool.
Day 20 Nashville, TN Peter had to film some local songwriters recording demos of their newly written songs at a recording studio on Music Row. I tagged along and spent the day watching these guys lay down tracks with top Nashville session musicians as Peter glided around the studio with his camera. It was a real treat to see these guys create their music which they hoped to sell to major stars. Names like the Wallflowers, Tim McGraw, and Shania Twain were tossed around as they cut their tracks. The beer and booze flowed throughout the day. I met some great singers and musicians and caught a glimpse of Nashville the tourists never see.
Day 21 Nashville, TN After saying good-bye to Peter, I headed north hoping to make a campground at the Land Between the Lakes. I passed through a town called Henrietta. After 53 miles I was in Clarkesville and I headed west to Dover. It was getting late and the campground was another 16 miles so I called it a day, got a motel, ordered a pizza, and watched The Knicks. Total Miles: 82
Day 22 Dover, TN As I headed into Land Between The Lakes, I noticed it was harder to get up the hills than usual. As I was coming down a hill I heard a new sound. It was the sound of a flat tire on the trailer. I quickly changed it, but the tire had a slight wobble to it. I stopped to adjust it but there was still a slight wobble. I figured I'd fix it later. I planned a shorter day with my goal being a campsite on the north side of the park in Kentucky. I found the campground and set up my tent just before a line of storms passed through. The weather cleared in about ten minutes. I started a campfire and cooked some chili over it. I turned in early so I could get an early start the next day. Total Miles: 50
Day 23 Land Between The Lakes, KY I rejoined the Trans-America bike route in Marion, KY. I crossed the Ohio river into southern Illinois on a ferry and visited the cave at Cave-In-Rock State Park. The cave has a long history. It's been used as a gambling hall, hide-out and brothel.The back roads the map had me on were short, steep, roller coaster hills. As I was pushing my load up one short hill, two guys on smoking mopeds sped past. They turned around and came back to talk to me. They said that they see cyclist struggling on these back roads all the time and that there was an easier way. They introduced themselves and one of them shared my last name.  I asked if he spelled it with an "e" or an "o'.  With an "A" he replied, taking a swig from his can of beer. They gave me directions to a better route west. It meant I'd have to go farther today but a shorter and easier day the next day.  It was good advice. Total Miles: 88
Day 24 Harrisburg, IL I avoided a lot of zigzagging by taking yesterday's advice. The road today was straight as an arrow; a wide four lane highway with equally wide shoulders and very little traffic until I neared Carbondale.  I arrived there with hopes that the bike shops noted on the map were open. There would not be another shop on the route until Kansas and I needed new cycling shorts and a helmet since mine developed a bad crack. I called all three with no success. It was Sunday. I found a Super 8 that was next to a BBQ joint and movie theater so I called it a day. I watched the Knicks again, called home, went to a movie and ate BBQ. Total Miles: 38


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