Since Jens Voigt the mountain bike is still laid up in the hospital with a fractured derailleur, I made a late-week decision to take a trip to Chattanooga for the 3 State 3 Mountain century ride. It’s been rainy, but the rain has been patchy, and the weather channel was showing a break in the showers Saturday morning. I was also incredibly bored with Memphis area roads.Ã‚ So, last night I swapped a compact crank on to the BH (not that I can’t get up the mountains without it- it’s more of a question of do I want to go up the mountains without it) and this morning I set out on the road.
I made plans to stay at the Raccoon Mountain Caverns campground. However, when I arrived today, the place was packed… not with just the usual campers, either- it had been taken over for a large Bluegrass Festival! There were tents packed in to every open patch of ground on the property, and people packed in and around them in much the same manner. The guy at the front gate told me that there was room for primitive camping. “How much for one night?” I ask. He tells me ten dollars. Score!
At least I thought.
“Oh yeah, then there’s the price of admission to the festival, and that’s twenty bucks, so yer lookin’ at thirty total.”
I’d like to pause here and say I honestly think that hanging around a bluegrass festival tent farm could probably be pretty damn fun. However, with a long run planned for the afternoon, a century planned for tomorrow morning, and another 70 miles on Sunday, I really can’t justify doing that right now. I’ve got to race a 12 hour in a week!
So I tell him sorry, that’s a bit steep and head back down the road to find a motel. Best Western. I unload the car, change, and head back out to Raccoon Mountain for some trail running. Even though I took a trail map with me, a couple of the turns were not marked and I ended up only getting in about a ten mile run rather than the 15 I was hoping for. I gotta hand it to the SORBA people… that is a first class trail system! We could never have anything that nice in Memphis because people would tear it up the first time it rained. I didn’t pass a single spot that had been rutted or widened.
When I arrived back at the motel, I turned on the TV only to see that the area was about half an hour away from getting slammed by some thunderstorms. That, along with my own hot shower and indoor plumbing made $80 for a room seem not quite as bad. My tent has a rainfly, but I’m pretty sure it would keel over in high winds. Once I was cleaned up, I went to a nearby Chinese buffet where I heard a really good joke courtesy of the people at the table next to me. It was a husband and wife (I’m assuming), two teenage girls, and a ~8 year old chinese girl who appeared to be an adopted child. I wasn’t paying too much attention to them until I heard one teen girl say to the other, “Hey, you want to hear something funny? Hey Caroline (to the Chinese girl), where do babies come from?”
“From China!” Caroline answers happily. Everyone laughs. I giggled a bit myself.
So now I’m back at the motel. The weather forecast has changed, and it looks like tomorrow will be wet. I really wish I had a rain cape. Maybe I’ll go to WalMart first thing in the morning and get something waterproof so I don’t freeze on the descents. I think the weather was a lot like this last year except a little cooler (though apparently it cleared up later in the ride). I’m just glad I’m not too busy racing to do things like this. It’s a nice break, even if the weather is crappy.