I’m not even sure where to start! The past two days have been amazing! The ride to Gatlinburg TN was a rough one but a great one in my opinion. We biked up the Blue Ridge Parkway! It was mostly uphill and I was going about 4-5mph most of the time. We even walked a little! Haha! It took so many hours to get to the top! I will post pictures soon and I took some videos so check out those too! The views were absolutely incredible! The mountains that went on forever looked like a painting. The ride down was crazy! I was going about 30mph and top speed was 38mph. There were also dark tunnels that was kinda interesting and reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when they go through the tunnel in the boat and everything pretty much spins and goes by fast. It was such an incredible experience to have biked the blue ridge parkway. So surreal! It even got a little chilly at the top. I learned that little bags of fruit snacks and small bags of peanut m&m’s helped me through it with little spurts of sugar. We had lunch at the bottom which was around mile 40. I had a great talk with leader ryan about the ride up and down blue ridge and I learned we’d basically be riding it again but into Gatlinburg. It was suppose to be a 73 mile ride. We got a few miles out and a car had pulled over in front of me and started reversing so I panicked and took a little tumble at about 5mph on my gear side. Everything was fine but I was a bit surprised the car never stopped. We continued on and another rider was having trouble so we had to pull over. We didn’t have cell phone service so another rider biked up to call the van. It was an interesting 3 hour wait for the support van. We flagged down a trooper to get a responder to contact but the van showed up around 7pm. We then rode into Gatlinburg and picked up other riders because it was getting dark. Our fastest riders made it to the host at about 6pm and were super spent. It was such a tough ride! We stayed at Crazy Horse Campground and slept in an arcade room. Once we had showered we had to drive into town to get dinner. It was so late and we got to bed around 11pm. Sleeping in the arcade room was rather weird and kinda creepy with all the lights and weird noises. We ended up unplugging then and sleeping. I didn’t have time that night to blog so I’m currently in Maryville TN now. Today was such an amazing day! I was happier than ever today. We left Gatlinburg, (thankfully, I wasn’t fond of the town. The mountains were beautiful but the town was simply a junky tourist town in my opinion) and rode 53 miles to Maryville. About 13miles in we stopped at Dunkin Doughnuts and got iced latte with a crispy crème doughnuts! We continued on and I rode mainly with Lo and Meegan. We had a rough climb at first but then we ran in Laurel Falls and locked our bikes up. We hiked about 1.3miles to the falls and it was so nice! We took some pictures too! From then (mile 20) on it was mostly downhill and flat. I was averaging about 21mph for a long stretch. We were biking along Little River and it was super pretty! So many folks were swimming, tubing, and kayaking. We decided to stop at a swim stop and lock our bikes up. The three of us jumped from this big rock straight into the water! It was freezing but felt great. Then, surprise surprise Simon Carbone was in Gatlinburg! He’s a great friend I met in highschool! We hungout a bit there and took a picture! Its such a small world and was great seeing you Simon! We continued on and 2 other riders caught up with us and we ran into a rope swing! It was so great! We stopped of course, and each climbed this tree with wooden steps and to a swing at it into the water! This was my first time on a rope swing! It was a bit nerve-wrecking for me. I was literally hugging the tree at the top and scared to let go! But with the help of the others I took of and basically belly flopped! Haha! Finally, we biked on and were close but we found some locals jumping from a bridge into the water. It looked absolutely crazy and is illegal! After talking to the folks we had such a jolly time and decided to park our bikes on the side of the bridge and jump! I jumped off a bridge for my first and last time ever! It was super scary but so thrilling! The water was super cold and all the folks were nice and fun. Then, we biked to a bike shop where our bikes were cleaned and tuned up. I bought batteries for my head light and rummaged through the clearance and found the last pair of nice Hincapie socks for $3!!! What a deal! We are staying at a Boys & Girls club tonight. We showered in a portable shower trailer. It was pretty neat actually! It had 5 showers! Now we are getting ready for dinner now! This blog post is super long and I might be my longest! These past two days have just been absolutely incredible. I tried to explain everything that happened but honestly, its simply an experience that is hard to put into words. I’m having such a great time! Thank you again to everything that has supported me. I’m learning so much, having the time of my life, and simply thankful and blessed to be having this adventure. J
The night in Maryville was pretty nice. We had a good wraps with pasta and fruit salad donated to us but we were all still hungry. So we went to this Mexican restaurant last night and I split a combo with 2 others and just had a small burrito with a frozen peach margarita. When we finished a group went back out in the town to go listen so some karaoke music and then a group of us went back to sleep. It was pouring rain and we had over half a mile to walk! So we used plastic bags for phones and wallets and danced back to the host in the rain. I brushed my teeth and passed out really fast in what is called the “quiet room” for those that sleep earlier. This room was freezing cold! I slept till about 6:30am and we went to the build site. However, it was still pouring down rain so Habitat called and told us they were calling off the build. So we went to Starbucks where they gave us all (15 of us) free coffees and a bunch of different coffee cakes and breads to share! We then did some grocery shopping at Krogers and Target and they gave us day old breads and fruits which was nice! We also got a pot and some rice/beans so we can cook some and I just bought some extra sunscreen. I’m getting a gradual farmers tan so I’m doing pretty well with reapplying! Now we are back at the host for some free time, laundry, then affordable housing presentation and more free time. I’m posting many pictures and videos so check them out! I will try to start getting postcards, writing, and mailing them out!