Transcon Log 1             Back to Bike Stories  //  Back to the Weeville Home Page

Note:  While I was on the transcon ride, I made it a point to force myself to write something down with pencil and paper about the day's progress or brief events at the end of each day.  The entries are all short because I was tired and didn't have the time or wherewithal to write much of a story.  After I got a full page or so written, I'd find a post office in a town and mail the piece of paper home to The Herald.  That was the technology back then.  That kept the column going while I was gone.  The logs are just that - short entries.  The real people-stories were happening every day, but I had no time to write them until I got back home.  They were all on my low-tech micro-cassette dictation recorder.  I had to mail home a box of cassettes from somewhere in Kansas, and then find a Radio Shack store where I could buy some more tapes.  My, how techno-things have changed in 20 years.

The Herald April 28, 1989 
 
Biker heads west
 
Rusty Forrest left April 14 on a cross country bike ride to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Here is his first report from the road.

Day 1/April 14/109 miles from Rock Hill to Lake Lure, N.C.
 
The usual pre-launch jitters were strangely absent from this morning's departure.  I can only attribute it to the fact that I was fully prepared and quite tired of waiting.
 
When I took a rest stop at a gas station in Sharon, I was accosted by a Herald reader who recognized me and wished me luck.  I am always thrilled to talk with a reader, and this feeling pumped me up for the rest of the day.
 
Riding through Sharon and Hickory Grove, I was reminded how beautiful that area is.  I spooked two deer right beside the road, and they white-tailed it into the woods.
 
I cruised past Gaffney's famous peach-shaped water tower and into the hills, finishing up at a motel facing Lake Lure.  I don't feel like I had ridden 109 miles.
 
Assessment:  The Adrenalin is flowing.
 
Day 2, April 15
 
69 miles from Lake Lure to Cashiers, N.C.
 
Early rain showers encouraged a late start for a full day of climbing on Highway 64.
 
At several rest stops along the way, people wanted to talk at great length about my trip.  Most of the mountain folk are very aloof, while others are extremely talkative and cordial.
 
Some of the locals in Cashiers gave me the scoop on a sneaky way to get from Cashiers to Franklin without using U.S. 64.  I'll take their advice.
 
Assessment:  I'm tired from all the climbing, but it's a "good tired."
 
Day 3, April 16
 
 
77 miles from Cashiers to Murphy, N.C.
 
This ride was a bonafide killer.  The back way to Franklin was strenuous but scenic.  West of Franklin, U.S. 64 grew into an awesome series of climbs.
 
The first hill of note was a three-mile 8 percent grade with two sandpits to catch run away trailer trucks.  After that it was a grind from one "steep hill" sign to the next, broken by brief but wild 45 mph descents.
 
Just when I was ready to wave the white flag, I dropped out of the Smokies and ached through the foothills to Murphy.  On the difficulty scale, this ride was 10, and the complete lack of facilities during the hardest part made me thankful for the food and water I had on board.
 
Assessment:  Kids, don't try this particular day's ride at home.
 
Day 4, April 17
 
99.5 miles from Murphy, N.C., to Spring City, Tenn.
 
Did I say the mountains were behind me?  I turned right off of U.S. 64 and rode straight into the Appalachian Ridge.  The climbs were stiff, but I made it through in a couple of hours.
 
Somewhere near Tellico Plains, Tenn., I asked a man at a gas station for a map, and got a speech about how times are changing in America.  Maps used to be free, he said, and he refused to charge customers for something as trivial as a road map.
 
I later found everything I needed at the Madisonville Chamber of Commerce, along with some great words of encouragement from the lady who worked there.  The maps and the conversation were absolutely free of charge.  America is doing OK after all.
 
I was pleased with this day's mileage after a struggling start.  Still, there are more hills on the horizon.
 
Assessment:  Any minute now, I expect to wake up and be in the midst of a hard day at work.
 
Day 5, April 18
 
54 miles from Spring City to Sparta, Tenn.
 
A junior league mountain range west of Spring City soaked up most of the morning.  When the switchback climbs ended, I was exposed to a howling headwind.
 
Everyone who lives on U.S. 70 has those wind-activated yard ornaments like flying geese and little guys in boats jerking on a big fish.  One even depicted Snoopy flying his Sopwith Camel with scarf attached.
 
Snoopy was flying the same way I was riding, and his propeller was roaring.  Averaging less than 10 mph, six hours of this abuse was all I could stand.
 
Assessment:  Hills have a beginning and and end, but wind is disgusting.  For a bicyclist, a headwind is nature's form of terrorism.
 
Day 6, April 19
 
87.6 miles from Sparta to Franklin, Tenn.
 
A gray morning offered me a great tailwind for some quick early miles.  Highway 96 from Liberty to Murfreesboro was the best bike riding road I have ever seen.  It was extra wide and lightly traveled, and the hills were gentle.
 
From Murfreesboro to Franklin, the hills became more radical and the wind was turning to head.  After yesterday's experience with the wind, I wasn't interested in pushing it past Franklin.
 
Horses outnumber the cows in this area.  Near Franklin, I spied a genuine Tennessee Walker strutting his stuff with a buggy driver in tow.
 
Assessment:  Tennessee sure is big when you do it lengthwise on a bicycle.

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