2021 Tour of Honor – Tennessee Day Ride

May 7

I have an appointment to get the bike serviced next week. I will drop it off on Thursday evening, the 13th, they will do the work on the 14th, then I will pick it up that afternoon. I need to get closer to 36,000 miles, I am about 1,000 miles short.

I have gradually visited the sites that are close. I check the Tour of Honor sites and the various bobus/optional sites. I decide to head to Shelbyville and go north to Murfreesboro. There are two 9/11 memorials along this particular route. I can also visit a few sites to get points for the other challenges I have joined.

I head east to Killen, then make the turn to Lexington on County Road 71. This is a well maintained road that I have used for a previous CMA ride. My first stop is the Post Office in Lexington. This will give me a second letter in the BMW challenge (spell SADDLE UP AND RIDE).

From Lexington, I hit a familiar route to Pulaski through Minor Hill. I ride along US-64 until I pass I-65. About halfway to Fayetteville, the GPS has me turn onto Barnes Hollow Rd. The name alone causes me to have a little concern. The GPS doesn’t even list it as a County Road, so I approach with caution.

As I near, I see that it is also TN-244, this eases my concerns and I make the left turn. I am glad I did! This is a pleasant road, sweeping curves, well maintained, and beautiful vistas! I cross US-431 and continue to Shelbyville.

The memorial is in the corner of the area around the court house. Luckily, there is an area with large stone pots with plants where I can park the bike. I get a few pictures, drop off a poker chip in the soldier’s hand, then head on out to the next stop.

I head north on US-231. I make a gas stop and realize where I am. I had stopped at this gas station while leading a ride to Bell Buckle a few years ago. Vanessa and I took off on the road across the highway, I rode into a ditch a few miles down the road. I sprained my ankle pretty bad. “Biker boots” saved me from breaking the ankle.

Anyway, back to today. I gas up and head to the memorial north of Bell Buckle. I ride past the gate, ignoring the sign which states I need to check-in at the main office. I get some nice pictures. As I start to submit them, the app tells me that this site is supposed to be closed. I submit them via the app anyway, with a note that the area was open for visitors. I go to the main office and talk with the receptionist and the office manager. The area was recently re-opened to visitors, though you must check in at the office first or the guard may not let you in. There is a guard at the gate 24/7 (unless he is out making rounds), but the office is only open during regular business hours. This may be a limited access area.

I decide that I want to ride over to Bell Buckle for lunch. Again, I scrap plans for the later part of the ride. I get to Bell Buckle and find a parking spot just bike enough for the bike at the front door of the cafe. The wait is only 15 to 20 minutes, I don’t have any place to be in a hurry, so I wait patiently.

I talk with a few visitors to the area and walk along the store fronts. A couple of kids ask me very specific questions about the bike. One knew all the specs and was asking how it handled in various situations. The kids were in awe when I told them it had close to 36,000 miles on the odometer and was only two years old. Considering it sat for 6 months, not bad!

Lunch was out of this world! The chicken and dumplings were on the level of Mawmaw’s, the beets and okra was great, but the tomatoes and cucumbers were “slap yo momma good!” Cut tomatoes with cucumber chucks in a balsamic vinegar dressing. Yes, I got a picture. With blackberry cobbler being an option for dessert, I couldn’t pass that up. Yes, I had it with a scoop of ice cream. The cobbler was good, but the tomatoes and cucumbers were worth the trip!

Already deciding to forego the visit to the 9/11 Memorial in Murfreesboro, I choose to ride the road where I sprained my ankle. I will not let a road get the better of me. I head out of Bell Buckle toward US-231. Traffic is too busy for me to shoot straight across, so I make a right turn and go to the next opening in the median to make a U-turn. I make the right turn onto Eady Rd. I recognize the slight hills and the easy curves. As I round another curve, I recognize the spot where I rode off the road into the ditch. There was no reason other than I was not paying attention to cause the accident. I slow down and look over the area. If I were on the GS, I could have easily stood on the pegs and ridden it out. As it was, another guy eventually drove up and was able to ride the bike out for me. I rode the Harley home from there.

The road that I took that day have calming views and light traffic. That day, I was more concerned about the pain. Today, I was able to enjoy the views. I pull back into Shelbyville, realizing that I had paralleled US-231.

I do my best to explore new routes. I turn off routing on the GPS and just ride. I wanted to see where the roads would lead. Eventually, I would either get to a dead end or to a road that I knew. I stay on state roads and find myself pulling into Pulaski from the north. wind my way through town and finally find myself on US-64. I am west of Minor Hill Road, so I get to find a new option home.

I ride until I get to US-43, then head south. The problem with US-43 is that it is a four-lane road, through farmlands, but only a 45mph speed limit in Tennessee. In the few towns, the speed limit lowers to 35 or even 25, then back to 45mph. Once I get to the Alabama state line, the speed limit raises to 60mph then 65mph.

I don’t stay on US-43 very long, making the right onto County Road 47. I ride through St Florian, then pull into the gas station near the house. I notice that the SpotX quit broadcasting my location in Lawrenceburg. At least the Rever tracked me the entire ride. I turn off the tracking on Rever, gas up, then head home.

Lunch was the best part of today’s ride, though the memorials were very touching. I now need to get focused on planning the North and South Carolina ride. I will need another day ride before dropping off the bike, but I should be able to get that in early next week.