TAT day 1 – Friday

For us to make it to Trinidad, Colorado in the time we’ve got, we need to put some miles behind us. We were up without waiting for the alarm, had a moderately bad hotel breakfast and some really bad coffee, and hit the road around 7am. We crossed I-65 and turned south on the trail, less than a mile from the hotel.

The roads were pretty good, some paved, some gravel, and some that used to be paved but are now becoming gravel. Of course, some roads are always being resurfaced and we located a few of those as well. Just as we topped a small hill, we found fresh chip-n-seal – more chip than seal. And, to make things even more interesting, at the bottom of the hill was a sharp left-hand turn. I could see that I wasn’t going to make the turn so I braked, let off, braked, let off, braked but the rear tire slid out to the right and I low-sided. Banged my knee on the road, smashed my left-hand ring finger, and banged by helmet on the road. Gear is good – gear that you’re wearing when you need it is priceless. The bike came through it unscathed; I wound up with a sore finger and knee. I’ll be even more careful topping hills and rounding curves in the future.

We found several water crossings, something I had not done in a number of years. From reading TAT reports I knew that at least one was notoriously slippery and I think that was the first one. John slipped and slid as he crossed, and we walked my bike across. When the water is clear you can more easily pick a good line, and it seemed that the water levels were down compared to some photos I have seen.

If you’re hungry and find yourself in Olive Hill, Tennessee, you won’t starve. There’s a small country store that has burgers and drinks and a very nice lady running the place. It doesn’t look to be too busy so stop in and say hi as you pass by.

I have some experience riding in the rain, and it seems that all I need to do is to put on a riding jacket and take the bike out of the garage. Very shortly thereafter, any droughts in a 1000-mile radius will vanish. I had decided that it was my Goldwing rather than me that was the catalyst for rain. I was wrong. It is me. As we were eating at the Olive Hill store, some other folks stopped in and said it was raining in the area and that some of the rain was pretty heavy. Wonderful. Not only do I have a smashed finger and sore knee, but now I get a shower too.

The rain didn’t take long to find us, but for the most part we managed to avoid the heavier rain showers. That is, until we got close to the TN-MS border. It was really coming down, lightning, thunder, and strong winds. There was no shelter that either of us could see, so we just kept moving. When we were about to get into Mississippi, we broke out of the woods onto a ridge and the lightning was all around. This was not a good place to be but I figured a moving target would be harder to hit so we kept going. We finally descended off the ridge and got into Mississippi, where the sun was actually shining. We were soaked, and decided to break off the trail for a hotel in Ripley, MS.

A hot shower, some dry clothes, and dinner was a welcome respite. I don’t know how much the rain slowed us down, but I don’t think it was too much. Making 350 miles per day is going to be very difficult, and maintaining that average over several days is damn near impossible.

Here is the stats for the first day on the trail:

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