Just playing catch up here…
Lest anyone think we didn’t squeeze in an adventure on the big bike this past weekend, after joining our tandem cycling club for a 48-mile ride on rural roads north of Atlanta, we quickly got ourselves home, cleaned-up and back out the door on Blue to join two other couples for a quick motorcycle trip up to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
I think we finally met up around 2:30p after a third couple’s motorcycle developed a problem that kept them home. After asking if we were going to take I75 or backroads to Chattanooga I was drafted to be the ride leader after confessing that I knew how to get there on the roads less travelled. It was the same route I’d mapped out back in May for our trip up to Nashville, TN, with David & Deb over the Memorial Day weekend.
The forecast for Atlanta & Chattanooga had a “zero chance” of rain but the skies overhead as we approached Calhoun, Georgia begged to differ. Sure enough, as soon as we were on US route 27 we ran into a wet road and light rain showers that dogged us all the way up to Chattanooga. Nothing that was heavy enough to warrant putting on the rain gear and, in fact, it did a nice job of cooling off what had started off as a very hot ride.
Before describing our time in Chattanooga I should probably note that it was selected as a destination because there was apparently some type of festival and a concert scheduled in town that caught our friend’s attention. As we got close-in to downtown on Market Street it quickly became apparent what the festival and concert were for: the Gorge River Omnium bicycle race series. Yup, gridlock city once we hit the in-town citizen’s race course on Market Street.
Sadly, I’d lost my bearings and thought we were a lot closer to the clubs and restaurant district on Market & Broad Street when I snagged a nice parking space for the three bikes next to the fountains. Sugar’s was the destination and without considering how far off the beaten path it was, I used that as my “target”. Moreover, I think I was more interested in getting us out of traffic and on our feet and just didn’t take into consideration how far the Aquarium and other attractions were even from Sugars. So, note to self: always do your homework before heading somewhere! My memory was clearly lacking in this instance.
All that said, it was good to get off the bikes and get in a nice walk. Sugars turned out to be pretty nice: good food, good staff and it was a great place to sit and relax with friends. It was also across the street from the Cupcake Kitchen where our friends dove into some really massive, sugar-packed cupcakes.
The original plan was to hang-out in Chattanooga and listen to some live music. However, with thunderstorms in the area and most of the concerts not starting until 9:00pm, the consensus seemed to be let’s head home and maybe catch a band at Locals. I was all-in for that, as I’m just not crazy about late night rides on the motorcycle. I have no problem in the early morning hours, but once you have tired motorists, drunks and otherwise stupid drivers on the road after dark… the fun factor drops a lot. Backroads might seem to be a nice idea, but as we move closer to fall you can bet your boots that there will be deer wandering across the roadways in the middle of the night as well. So, call me a wuss… I was just fine with heading back home.
Of course, as we headed out-of-town I finally found where we should have parked and kicked myself for not being a better host. I definitely want a second shot at leading a trip back to Chattanooga. However, next time I want to leave before noon so we can have lunch on the north side of the Tennessee River, ride up to the top of Lookout Mountain, and then return for dinner on Broad Street near the aquarium…. perhaps even spend the night so we can really relax and enjoy one of the Riverfront Concerts and all of the goodness that the many clubs and restaurants have to offer.
The ride home was a straight shot down I75 and I gotta tell you, it was actually a pretty nice ride. I locked the bike on cruise control at about 5 mph over the limit in the center lane and that seemed to keep us in a fairly uncluttered stretch of freeway with minimal run-ups on other cars and just a few highway heroes blasting through. The air temperature was warm not hot, but the humidity was 100% which made for a much colder-feeling ride than it was. In essence, our shirts were saturated with moisture and the steady flow of air just seemed to suck the heat out of our bodies. By the time we parted company with our friends at the Red Top Mountain exit I was ready to put on a jacket and we nearly froze when we walked into our 80°F house. Of course, as soon as I took off my shirt I immediately warmed up: I encouraged Miss Debbie to likewise… (wink)!
Shortly after we arrived home we got a message that the visit to Locals wasn’t happening: everyone was heading home to relax. To be fair, it was a lot of riding in not a lot of time: about 200 miles in five hours and that last 90 on the freeway really sucked the life out us. suspect it was similar for our friends. We ended our day on the bikes with a late evening visit to Olde Towne Tavern & Grille to share a small Italian pizza. We’d had a large lunch at noon, then just a snack at Sugars and needed something to cap off the day.