In case any of you care (or remember), several weeks ago JS Haiku Shop and I did a pre-EBRAT (Eric's Bike Ride Across Tennessee) ride report. It was a litmus test of sorts for my first tour. I left Memphis, TN on Sat 11/23 and arrived in Johnson City, TN (my hometown) on Wed 11/27. It was quite an amazing trip with some really long days. Physically, it was demanding (I did a 133 mile day on Sunday), and mentally it was tough. TN is a long state, and I had no companions for motivation. I towed a BOB trailer behind my mtn bike (with slicks on it) and camped along the way.
The local paper did a writeup on my adventure. Here is the URL in case you'd like to read it.
Things I learned
Park rangers will boot you out of the park if you camp illegally. I learned too late that there is no camping allowed in Shiloh National Military Park.
Bag Balm makes excellent chamois cream. I used half a tin.
Cleanliness really counts. I took showers when I could and made certain to wash up each night.
35mph descents with a 50lb trailer can be interesting affairs....especially when logging trucks are involved.
TN is a much more beautiful state by bike than by car. My wife drove me home after Turkey Day, and the interstate is pretty boring.
I thought most people in this world were a$$holes, but this trip really opened my eyes. I met a lot of great individuals one of whom opened his home to me at the end of a 8 hour day (in which I'd been riding for the latter half of it in the pouring rain).
It's important to be flexible. I'd been planning this trip since June, and on the first day, after riding 100.12 miles, I knew I didn't want to ride 15 miles more (out of the way!) to make it to my first night's destination. In the comfort of a bedroom, an extra 15 miles doesn't feel like much, but at the end of a hard day, it's world's away. I ended up staying in a private campground 2.5 miles away (not on the map). Next time, I'll opt for shorter days.