I don’t know what it is about a misty overcast day, but those days, more than any other, are the days that I really want to go riding. As luck would have it, that’s exactly what today was here in Nashville this morning. It’s been months since I’ve been riding and it’s become a “I’m getting around to it” thing. I keep meaning to go, but I never seem to find the time. The biggest hurdle has been getting up in the morning. I’m not much of a morning person and for some reason, I’ve been unable to get my butt out of bed and onto the bicycle. With Daylight Savings Time ending, I figured today would be a good day to get a jump on waking up early. I could wake up at 6am and it’d feel like 7am. So I set the time on my pa1mOne Tungsten C back one hour and set the alarm for 5am. What the heck, if I’m going to wake up early, let’s really wake up early. 🙂

The alarm went off at 5 and I reset it for 5:30, then for 6:00 and that’s when I dragged my butt out of bed. The only problem was that the Tungsten C took it upon itself to update the time. So in effect my alarm was set back two hours and not one, thus it was 7am, not 6am. Normally my perfectionism will kick it at this point and I’ll decide to scrap the ride, but when I saw that it was misty and overcast, I threw “reason” aside and went out for a ride anyway.

It took me a little longer than I would have liked to get ready. I couldn’t find my shorts, or my jacket, or my tool kit, or my pump – well you get the idea. Even with the delays, at 8:00am I was out the door and coasting down the hill Ahh, the joy of a quiet ride on a misty morning. I love it!

My hope is that I’ll begin riding every morning for an hour, so my plan was to find a loop that would take about an hour to ride. Although we live in the city, we’re very lucky to have plenty of country roads just behind our subdivision. It’s starting to become more developed, but so far the roads are still low traffic and a lot of fun to ride. As I made my way down Petus and then on the Old Hickory, I noticed that my chain was not engaging the freewheel like it should. It make the few small climbs I had a bit of a bitch because the chain was bouncing around all over the place.

Eventually Old Hickory met with with Petus again, so I started to make my way back home. As I begin climbing a pretty decent sized hill, my chain went nuts. I tried throwing it into a low gear to try and have it catch and the chain ended up wedging between the freewheel and the spokes. As Juliet quickly came to a grinding halt, I was about to rip my foot out of the cleat just at the last second and catch myself before I fell to the ground. After a few minutes, I had the chain back in place and Juliet and I were no worse for the wear. In fact, after the chain was back in place, it shifted perfectly from there on out.

As I turned on to Blue Hole Road and back towards my subdivision, I looked at my cycle computer and noticed that it had just been over 30 minutes. I wasn’t ready to quit riding yet. My legs had done surprisingly well and my butt was holding up just fine. I could have made the loop one more time, but that didn’t appeal to me too much. Just when I thought my ride was going to be short, I remembered a paved path about a mile or so away that I wanted to explore. Woo hoo – the exploring could continue!

I made my way across Bell Road and over the Interstate to Antioch Middle School. Across the street from the school is a path called Mill Creek Greenway. It’s part of the Nashville Greenways system and offers walkers, joggers and cyclists a nice safe area in which to exercise. There’s a great PDF brochure about the entire Nashville Greenway system at this link. I’m not so big on these kind of paths, but I’d really like to get Holly riding her bike with me and figured this might be a good place for her to begin riding again. Once she’s comfortable with her bike again, we can then venture out to more exciting destinations.

There was a big sign that displayed a map of where I was and where the path led. Mill Creek Path consists of a half-mile loop and about a half-mile straightaway that will one day connect with other sections of the Nashville Greenway. At least that was what the map said. “Maybe they’ve extended it further since the map was drawn?”, I thought. Since there was only one way to find out, I took off down the path.

The path itself is about six feet wide and paved with smooth as butter blacktop. Every so often the path will cross Mill Creek with a wide metal and wood planked bridge. It’s a fantastic path and the bend and small climbs make for a very pretty and scenic ride. The only negative is that the path parallels I-24 so you’re always within earshot of traffic. I don’t see that as a huge negative, but some might. The only thing I found disappointing was the fact that the map was correct – the trail ended after approximately half of a mile.

I did notice that there was a wide stone and dirt trail that continued. It was about the same width as the paved path, so I thought that perhaps they were working on carving out the trail further and decided to continue on. After some large stones, the trail became a hard pack, so I could continue riding. After a few hundred feet the trail began to climb and with the climb came mud. I have fenders and fairly wide tires for a road bike, but the mud was about two inches deep and quickly began clogging everywhere. I had mud caked in the fenders, the bottom bracket and all over my cantilever brakes. I hopped off the bike and walked on a little further only to see that the trail turned to the south, heading back towards the start of the path. Clearly this was a dirt trail loop that did not connect to other paths. 🙁

Slugging my way back to the path, I used a stick to scrape out all the mud I could. Without a hose there was no way I was doing to clean out all the mud. I was simply going to have a little drag as I rode home. Oh well, not like this hasn’t happened before, so I hopped back on my bike and followed the path back to the loop. I took the loop around back to the start of the path so that I could experience the entirety of the Mill Creek path. It’s short, but it’s a very nice path overall. Hopefully I can take Holly here next weekend.

I made my way back home and when I turned onto my street, I immediately bailed and dismounted. I don’t know what the incline is on my street, but it’s a steep hill for sure. Although my legs had done really well today, considering my lack of exercise, I knew there was no way I was going to make it with the mud all over me. I had plenty of drag on the wheels for one, but my cleats where packed with mud as well. This meant that I couldn’t really cleat in properly and my feet were barely on the pedals. My personal “Moby Dick” would have to wait until another time.

Overall, it was a great ride. I’m full of energy now and I can’t wait to ride again in the morning. If I didn’t have so much work to do today, I’d be out there right now. 😀

Distance: 12.66 miles
Time: 1 hour 13 minutes
Avg Speed: 11.6 mph
Max Speed: 34 mph