Day 9: Tennessee Hills: Dover, TN to Shady Grove, TN, 96.6 miles, 814 miles total

Whispering Pines Campground might not be the most appropriately named spot, what with its proximity (about 50 yards) to TN Hwy 79. On the plus side, the shower was hot, we slept like logs, and the fog in the morning was gorgeous.


We got our earliest start to date, leaving the campground by 8:30 am, and pedaling through the thick fog. We quickly turned off the highway onto Old Rte 76 and cruised along the empty road–fog in front of us, autumn trees on each side. After about four miles, we were surprised to find ourselves at the intersection of Hwy 76 and Old Rte 76 (again). We had gone in a complete circle. Perplexed, we turned on the phones and discovered that there was yet a third intersection of the two 76s. It was this third option that would lead us south toward the Natchez Trace trailhead.

On the right track (literally), we continued on and made good time through beautiful rolling hills. We stopped for a snack on the porch of our “dream house”! Cute, isn’t it?


The fog burned off and the hills turned steep as we crawled our way toward Waverly, where we stopped and ate lunch at a little memorial grove commemorating the disaster of 1978. Not-so-fun fact: Waverly was the site of a L&N train accident where 20,000 gallons of propane gas exploded–decimating a large chunk of the town and killing 16 people, including their fire and police chiefs. I think I had heard this history not that long ago as part of the news reporting on more recent train derailments.

We headed out of town and continued along beautiful scenery with long ups and downs. Both of us like climbing hills, and these were fun, although some quite challenging. We hit a trip best on one: 52 mph. (Yes, the hill we had to climb to do so took its toll, but it was worth it.)


And — with one major exception — the drivers here were exceptionally courteous about sharing the road. More than once, a driver would hang back giving us space on a long descent and ensuring the cars behind didn’t crowd us on narrow sections. Overall, the drivers here seem much more courteous to bikers than the drivers we regularly experience on Wisconsin’s country roads.

The one exception was some dimwit who had rigged his pickup truck to blow black exhaust at cars (and bikers). We got a blast of it as he zoomed past us, clearly trying to give us a scare. I can’t understand why someone would spend money to do something intentionally mean. But it was just a glancing insult to an otherwise awesome day.

Due to the hills and short fall days, we barely made it to the campground before the sun set. But Mike had picked up a little refreshment at the last convenience store.


Home for the night is a cyclists only campground. Tomorrow we will finally be on the historic Natchez Trace.

Mike made a lovely dinner and we ate by the fire restoked from existing hot ashes left by a recent visitor. After tidying up camp, Mike beat me in the trip’s first game of cribbage.

There’s a sliver of moon in the sky, the hum of cars going someplace, and the yips of a coyote pack. Everything but is and our little green tent seems far off and of a different world.

All in all, another great but exhausting day.

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