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Leipers Fork, TN
May 12, 2009
Early Saturday afternoon we pull past beautiful, freshly mowed estate lawns and into the lot behind Gran Fondo Bicycles, a high-end, independent bicycle shop in the Belle Meade neighborhood of Nashville, TN. Within minutes we’re treated to a spread of local wines, prosciutto, blue cheese, crackers and olives as we mingle with Gran Fondo’s owners and tomorrow’s ride host Lynn and Vida Greer, their employees and their customers. Just before they lock up we bring our bikes down off the van and into the shop for some light mechanic love (see Mississippi Delta floods) and a round of brand new and bacteria-free water bottles—a generous and much-needed gift from our hosts.
After another home-cooked meal from the grill of Lynn and Vida’s home, including a night of conversations ranging from cycling to skateboarding (a recurring theme for the trip), we drive out to the village of Leipers Fork to settle in. Here, just past the Puckett Market we land at the neat and clean cabin that Vida has organized for us for the weekend.
The next morning Keith, our driver, followed shortly by Vida and Lynn arrive and we roll out as a group. After days of riding in the delta south, cooler temps and these rolling, shaded and crispy-green hills are a welcome change. On a network of back and seldom trafficked roads we wind through small communities, country enclaves, farms and estates. Dogs, sometimes two or three at a time, chase after us after every house we pass. Barking Rottweilers, nipping Sheppards and yapping Shih-tzus.
We ride by immaculate equestrian estates with massive driveways, hundreds of acres of uniform black and white wood fencing, large brick gates. Lawns, dark green and striped, freshly cut by tractor or riding mower. Massive, ancient wooden barns in various stages of disrepair. Steep and mean canopied lanes. Rolling ridge roads with sweeping vistas, plummeting descents. Honeysuckle. Lakes, creeks, streams and rivers adorned with short, simple bridges. Double-wide trailers tucked into wooded pockets with their narrow front yards full of rusting toy bikes, appliances, cars, swing sets, satellite dishes and trampolines. The Baptist churches, with their parking lots steadily filling on a Sunday morning. High wispy clouds, diffused sunshine and the smell of rain. The ride and route itself a study in flow and rhythm - winding and thundering, riddling, standing and sprinting mile after mile.
Leipers Fork, aptly renamed ‘Killing me Softly’ by Sam at mile 70 since the ride is seductively inviting but it’s climbs will get you in the end. Still, a road ride we would happily do over and over again for years and years. After a week of floods, heat and rocks (which we fully and absolutely appreciate) this ride, this day and our hosts—all sublime.
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