That other cyclist in Collinwood I met up with in the evening was also heading north. So Bruce, which is his name, and I decided to ride together and see how it would play out with our different skill levels and stamina.
We left Collinwood at around 9:30 after getting breakfast at a really nice little local place called Chad's if I remember correctly. We biked about 30 miles without incident, it was nice to have a buddy to chat with during the day. It definitely energized me a bit and we made some decent time. The road started getting hilly again though, not as bad as Alabama, but still bad.
Shortly after about 30 miles, I got a flat tire! No big deal, I started to change it, and the new outer tube I got at the bike shop was WAY tight on the rim compared to my last one. I wasn't prepared and ended up slicing my inner tube more with my tire iron while removing it... I scrapped that inner tube and just pulled out one of my spares, however, my bike pump had been loosening at the seams for a few days now. While inflating the new tire, my bike pump broke apart!
Bruce was nice enough to let me use his pump, but I was now in a predicament. If I had another flat tire, I'd have no way to inflate it without relying on someone else's pump! Not too big of a deal so long as I was riding with Bruce, who had a pump.
We rode another 11 miles and those hills were getting huge! To help me power through the hills, I kept getting up and peddling while standing at very low gears. This was a mistake, slamming down on the pedals that hard puts massive strain on the rear wheel of the bike! So... I popped another spoke. Luckily, there was a campground 2 miles up the road. I tied my spoke down so that it wouldn't get tangled, and determined my wheel would survive a few miles, and headed over to the camp site.
When we got there, Bruce and I decided to part ways, Bruce had to be in Nashville the following day and this campsite was a little dangerously far away, especially with the hills! I met a nice man in the campgrounds who had a full set of bicycle tools in his camper. He let me use his tools which I used to replace my spoke and balance my wheel. About an hour and a half later, I was gonna get food from the restaurant that the campsite owns, and pay for a primitive campground for the night, but they take cash only I found out! I asked where the closest ATM was, and it turns out it was only a few miles short round trip as the next campsite on the trace was one way (which was my original destination). I was bumming. It was now 6:30, I couldn't stay at this campground, and I had another 16 or so miles to cover now before sunset at 7:45; without a bicycle pump if I had the misfortune of getting a flat.
Well, I didn't get a flat, and I climbed the biggest slope of the trip. It was about a mile and a half of a constant incline. I was so stressed by the end because if I had to deal with hills like that the whole 16 miles, I wouldn't be there until midnight! Luckily though, once I reached the top, the road followed the ridgeline the entire way! I coasted for almost 10 miles without peddling just cruising downhill! I broke my speed record this trip at 37mph! I made it at the next campsite, much to Bruce's surprise, at 8:00 on the dot; just as dusk was ending!
This morning, Bruce and I woke up at around 6:30, cooked breakfast, and started packing up our camp. While we were packing up, a man named Cliff, rolled up to our secret campsite and chatted with us for a good 45 minutes! He's toured in the past which is why he knew about the secret camp, and we talked about bicycling the whole time and traded stories.
We set off around 9:00 and started the final stretch to Nashville! The hills were excruciating! Absolutely relentless! I felt like the whole day was uphill with hardly any downs! I was still feeling the day before in my legs and I was really hurting all day, I could barely keep up with Bruce! Bruce was much better at hills and could maintain low gears much longer than I without his legs giving out. The day went painfully slow, but there weren't any incidents! We made it to the end of the Natchez Trace and into Nashville!
Coming out of the trace, we hopped on route 100 heading into the city. Immediately on the left, there was a restaurant named Motel Loveless Cafe which I was told back in Mississippi I had to go to! So we decided to stop in and have a nice BBQ dinner before parting ways for good! We both got a BBQ pulled pork dinner, and it was pretty fantastic!
After dinner, we both called for cabs, he had to get to his car parked out by the airport way on the other side of town, and I had to get to the hostel I reserved downtown. I wasn't really willing to drive 10 miles as tired as I was in city rush hour traffic, which is why I also got a cab.
So here I am, relaxing my legs in the common area of the hostel!
My phone is dead, which is where my pictures are. So I'll post them in a seperate post tomorrow morning sometime!