the bedbug debacle we didn’t get much sleep, which put us in a foul mood as we
left for Knoxville. Around lunchtime we found ourselves in an area with only an
Arby’s, which frankly upset me (terrible bang for the buck). We had a couple
lengthy climbs as well but the terrible morning led to a beautiful afternoon
descent down an old Tennessee highway that chased a river down the mountain.
The road led us into the suburbs of Knoxville just in time—we would be cutting
it close, with about an hour of daylight left. We were less than twenty miles
from Martha’s when Nick got a flat.
aren’t many things in life I want more than to never experience a flat tire
again. While Nick was fixing his tire a guy in a pickup truck pulled up and
asked if we needed any help, lifting our spirits a bit. The number of strangers
who’ve offered to help us, even when we haven’t asked, has been really
the time we were ready to ride again the sun was well on its way to setting. We
had some sketchy climbs on forested bike routes in complete darkness and, I’m
going to be honest, I was seriously afraid something large and angry was going
to leap out and claw me to death. But we somehow avoided the deadly wildlife of
urban parks to arrive at Martha’s beautiful house.
unpacked, showered, and had an awesome dinner cooked by Martha’s mother, Joan.
Her father, Victor, was mayor of Knoxville for sixteen years before serving as
the ambassador to Poland. Although Martha will never admit it, Nick and I had a
great conversation with her dad over dinner. He told us he would try to get us
some media coverage while we were here.
we passed out, again without setting an alarm. I swear all of these rest days
were planned—we decided to backload since we knew more people in the east.
next day began with a huge breakfast, then an interview with the local news!
They came to Martha’s place to shoot some footage of us and hear our story.
That was pretty cool. Afterwards we drove (no way we were biking those
Knoxville hills again) to City Hall to meet the county mayor, Tim Burchett, who
eclared September 3rd, 2013 as “California to Carolina for the Cure
Day” in Knoxville. Tim was the man—we never shook his hand but we fist bumped. (Here’s
a link to the proclamation: http://knoxcounty.org/news/news.php?id=289)
Clearly, Martha’s dad kept his word.
we drove around parts of downtown Knoxville and UT’s campus, did some bike
maintenance, then returned to Martha’s place. For dinner we had great homemade
ribs, wings, cornbread, and fried okra. I’d been told that I had to try some
fried okra while I was in the south. I’d been imagining a large, eggplant-like
vegetable, deep fried whole, but clearly I was wrong. I actually liked it a
lot. It kinda reminded me of stuffing.
wrapped our day up with a dip in the hot tub to loosen our muscles. I’m sure by
now you’re all tired of hearing me say this, but it’s still so weird for me to
see friends from the past in unfamiliar settings. This is our last planned stop
with one of my friends, so enjoy my nostalgic musings while they last.
we turn east towards Durham. Only four days left!