How have I not been to Nashville before? I mean, a city that is all about live music, BBQ'd meats, letterpress printing, and cowboy shirts?! I feel like nothing short of a conspiracy has kept this place off my radar until now. How fortunate though that I finally am experiencing this national treasure. While I have a pretty plush perch at the Hermitage, just blocks away, I have been headfirst into the grungy honky-tonks, record shops, and western wear stores that, if you know my wardrobe, are an indulgent dream.
These last 36 hours have been time off to recover from another week of intense riding. The mileage hasn't changed, but the landscape introduced a lot more climbing, and the deluge of rain didn't necessarily make it all easier.
I finally got my Trek Madone 6.9 back in action this week (many thanks to John Burke at Trek Bikes, Lance Armstrong, and the Trek Travel mechanics, Dan and Berkas, who pulled together to get it back on the road). That bike is so damn fast that I felt I just needed to push myself to put in some performances worthy of it. Thus, the last few mornings I ignored all advice to pace myself and just went out of the gate with reckless abandon. And, oh boy, has it felt great to push my heart rate into the red and keep it there for 100 miles.
Of course, there is absolutely no reason to blow through our routes quickly. We start so early in the morning that when we arrive at the next town, rarely are our rooms ready to be inhabited. So, greasing the course only exacerbates the waiting to be done on the other end. But, there has always been a certain competitive/self-destructive/extreme gene in me that just needs to push the envelope. In that light, while my body is indescribably sore, the last few days of riding into Nashville have left me feeling alive and strong.
Tomorrow, we strike back out toward the Atlantic. Just a week left now. It has been such a privilege to explore this great country so far and I am continually digesting both the celebration of, and concern I have for, our uniquely storied nation. For now though, I want to call out a couple more of the reasons why I am riding:
I don't know of anyone who is doing more to fight on your behalf for the cause of Net Neutrality as well as the independence and diversity of news sources than Free Press. They are nonpartisan and non-profit, and focused exclusively on ensuring your unfettered access to communications platforms and the freedom and quality of information on them. I am a fan of their work and am grateful for everything they do for each of us. I would be very grateful if you would donate a few bucks to them so they can continue to kick ass. Seriously. These guys are ninjas fighting corporate interests for you. Please help me help them help us.
The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society is a non-profit dedicated to saving Philly's homeless, abadoned, and unwanted animals. It is not just the city's largest rescue program, but is the only no-kill shelter in town. When you give to them, you are funding adoption programs, spaying and neutering, and vaccinations all with the goal of eliminating the unnecessary killing of Philly's animals. Please take a moment to check out how you can help.
Last, I need to point out that the supercool jerseys in these two photos were among those made for me by Hincapie Sportswear. Hincapie has consistently produced the best kits in cycling for years and each of their jerseys I wear while on the road invariably sparks a conversation from folks I meat along the way. George Hincapie is one of the most famous and accomplished cyclists in the world and, he and his brother Rich, take that same drive and put it into all the apparel they produce. I am beyond grateful for the chance to get suited up in Hincapie gear everyday. Be sure to check out what they can make for you.
And, on that note, I am shutting the lid on this laptop because a mere 126 miles await me in the morning. See you in Crossville, TN.