In the fall of 2002 I had a business trip to north Texas, and 12 days off afterwords. So I tool the chance to to some bike riding in the south.

Here is all the stuff I took with me.
It turned out to be more than I needed, but I planned the possibility of cold weather.

Here is all the stuff packed into the bike bags.

Finally, here is all the bags with all the stuff packed into a bigger bag for airline travel.

Now I had to pack my large bike into my travel box.

Here is how the bike fits into the box. My frame is 61cm. It was necessary to remove the crank in order for it to fit.

The wheels fit on the next layer.

The box closed and ready to go. I flew on Southwest to Oklahoma City, and they charged $40 for the bike, and the big green bag went free.

After my business trip in Dallas, I drove back to Oklahoma City to start my ride.
This map shows the route I took across Oklahoma.

Riding Day 1

I shipped by bike box with my laptop, carry-on bag and the green bag in it to the hotel in Nashville where I planned to end up using UPS ground for about $30.
I then returned my rental car to the Oklahoma City airport, and rode into town. Airport access by bicycle was excellent.
This is the skyline of Oklahoma City looking north from atop a bridge over the river.

I rode pretty much east for about 75 miles, I free camped in a woods next to the road near the town of Okemah. My first thoughts were a) Dam its hot (high 80's) b) It is very dry here. c) At least there there are no mosquitos.
Holy crap look at the size of this spider. Yikes, I was sleeping under that?

Riding Day 2

Very typical Oklahoma roadway. Oklahoma is not as flat as it looks from the air, but it is not hilly either. Just endless rolling hills.

At the end of my second day's ride of about 60 miles, I found myself in the town of Okmulgee on a friday night. What luck! It was homecoming so I went to the high school football game. Okmugee star Eric Johnson scored several touchdowns as a running back as well well as dominating as a linebacker in the Okmulgee Bulldogs 30-7 victory over the hapless Idabel Warriors.

Riding Day 3

On the third day I did 70 miles and stopped in the town of Vian. OMYGOD it was hot. Mid 90's all day.
Here is the view crossing the bridger over the Arkansas river near Webbers Falls.

Riding Day 4

Here is an interesting sign. I still felt Oklahoma was a bike friendly place. If only it could be a bit cooler: more 90's and growing humidity.

Finally, after another 60 miles or so, I make it to the Arkansas border.

Here is the Arkansas River again, crossing into Fort Smith.

The town of Fort Smith has got to be the homeless capital of the United States. Armies were camped in the park at the base of the bridge and were also being put to work sweeping the streets.

The heat was unrelenting. I did not feel like continuing across Arkansas in it. So I got lazy and rented a car and drove to Memphis and took a day off.

After my day off in Memphis (which is a really really pretty city, with great barbeque, music and other things to do) I planned out another loop to try. I started from Natchez Trace State Park, and went to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area and back.

Riding Day 5

My first impression of riding in Tennessee was "This is the Dog Chase Capital of the World!". In Oklahoma, I was not chased by a single dog. In the first 30 miles in Tennessee, I was chased by more than 10 different dogs, or packs of dogs.

My theory of dogs:
Unchained big dogs are not the problem. You scream "NO!" and "STAY!" and the do! In defence of Tennessee's rural dog owners, it seems that they are responsible enough to not let the really insane, untrained, and undisiplined ones run free. Small dogs, however, are a different matter. The thinking seems to be "how could my little precious hurt anyone?". Little ones in general are much less likely to respond to commands or tire from the chase easily.

In this part of Tennessee, cotton is the big crop. Here a crop duster makes a low pass to give me a good view.

Tennessee is a good bit hillier than Oklahoma( I did not know yet how hilly). On this day I did about 70 miles, finishing 1.5 hours after dark in Paris Landing. Dispite the dogs, I was finally free of the heat (low 70's all day), and after the ride I felt much better than I had on any day in Oklahoma. My best day yet!

Riding Day 6

Across Kentucky Lake and I was into the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. This was a wonderful place to ride. Almost no traffic, excellent paved roads, moderatly challenging climbs and fun decents, and no dogs. Wonderful weather too. I suppose it might be a bit more crowded in the summer, but I bet it is still fun.

This panorama is of Kentucky Lake from the shore of LBLNRA. According to the girl at the motel, the Bass Masters where out there somewhere.

This butterfly visited me on the shore. He then set out to cross the lake.
On this day I did about 70 miles, and stayed in a regulation campsite, with shower, just accross the Kentucky border.

Riding Day 7

I went south out of LBLNRA and took the TVA road (very nice paved road) south down the east side of the Tennessee River. The hills on this day got much bigger. Them thar are real hills now. 600 ft up. 600 ft down. Repeat...

Did about 70 miles again and ended up in Waverly. The ride from Midway To Waverly was the most nasty traffic wise of my trip. No shoulder, fast cars, trucks, and more than a few of them. More hills. to. Took a hotel room in waverly because Hurricane Lili was coming, and I did not want to get wet.

Riding Day 8

The next day started in the rain and 20 MPH headwinds with 40 MPH gusts driven by Hurricane Lili.
I took these pictures as I crossed the Tennessee River on US70. The big railroad drawbridge was particularly cool. It had stopped raining for the most part by the time I got here, but the wind was still blowing hard. Note the very dark clouds.
Riding on US70 was not too bad, at least there was 2 lanes. After coming off the bridge things got worse : down to 1 lane with no shoulder as we went through a swamp for about 5 miles. Then it was back to dog chase land. Again, about 70 miles for the day.

Riding Day 9

I drove to Nashville for my flight home. I took the opportunity to do about 50 miles out and back on the Natchez Trace Parkway. WOW!. I have got to get back here. They have good barbeque too.

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