A Brief Ride to Volunteer Country

Yesterday was my first ride in Knoxville, Tennessee. For starters, let me say that it’s HOT. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s hot considering I just moved from Detroit where winter, though on its way out, is going down kicking and screaming. So, biking in an 80-degree weather took a quick toll on me, mainly on my armpits. Today's ride was brief, a way to get a feel for the city and to meet up with a friend who’s a professor at the University of Tennessee (UT). Though the ride was practically a straight shot and only 3.3 miles, the hills (Oh, the hills!) made it far worse than it should have been. That 20 minute ride made all those evenings of Core Strength classes at the Detroit YMCA well worth the time, effort, sweat, and money. Many thanks to my instructor, Rachel!

Once I reached downtown I stopped for a moment at a red light and ended up having an impromptu conversation with an older pedestrian who was waiting to cross the street. He complimented me on the setup of my bike, specifically the Dyad rim I have, which is made by Velocity USA. At the moment, I have a mix-match set of rims due to a fall I had months ago that bent my original front rim beyond repair. So, the rear set is courtesy of Alex Rims. Because he seemed so knowledgeable, my most official sounding voice I asked, “Do you ride?” He stated that he has a 1984 Trek 520 touring bike. This kind stranger referred to the combination of his aging body and bike as “an antique on an antique.” As I looked and listened, I could not shake the feeling that I had seen him before. Turns out I had, sort of. He resembles Dale, a character from The Walking Dead. Dale was a caring, reasonable, at times nagging, older white man with a scruffy white beard, a Winnebago, and a rifle. He succumbed to a walker’s rapacious appetite in Season 2, Episode 11. Anywho, Dale’s doppelganger warned me, as the light turned green, “Watch out for these assholes. Remember, just because they’re in car doesn’t mean they can drive.” And with that, we shared a laugh and bid one another adieu

After mounting and descending a few more hills, I made my way to UT. The UT campus is nothing to write home about. Sorry UT fans. Unlike the self-aggrandizing antebellum architecture I have come to know from studying at the University of North Carolina, UT’s campus has a drab mid-20th century aesthetic. The most attractive parts of the campus are the steep hills and the numerous places to sit in the sun or lay in hammocks. I know you may be thinking, “What’s exciting about this ride?” Not much, I suppose. But since I road, I figured I would write. Besides, they’re more rides to come. And thanks to Strava, you can peep a bit of the trajectory of my ride. Happy Saturday!

beau-willie