Day 16: Gatlinburg to Maryville. Scott and I were sweep this day. Everyday we have 2 sweep riders who stay behind the group all day to make sure that everyone gets in. If anyone has bike trouble or minor injuries along the way, the sweep riders carry tubes, an extra tire, and a first aid kit to bring to the rider. It’s not the most fun job, especially for two riders who like to ride faster than most, but everyone’s gotta do it at some point, and it’s a great excuse to ride slow and take it easy all day.
Since we had to ride 12 miles out of the way the previous day to get to the campsite, we had to ride back in the direction we came from to really get our ride started. We stopped for coffee at McDonald’s with a group of riders, and in true sweep fashion, we hung back for quite a bit to let other riders get ahead of us.
We were told that there would be no major hills to climb, unlike the day before. That was only kind of true. We had to climb up one semi-big mountain, but it was not nearly as big as the ones from the day before, and after we made it up, the rest of the day was at a negative grade, so we just coasted all day long.
Meegan, Lo, and Lauren (we call her LoBro) had chalked on the road that they were taking a trail to the waterfall about 1.3 miles into the woods. Scott watched my bike and his as I followed in after them, figuring this was a chance to do some exploring! I took some “selfies” and landscape photos along the way…
I finally caught up with the girls at the waterfall!
We made our way back to our bikes and headed off toward lunch. Here’s Scott making a delicious sandwich of honey and Ruffles chips. Lunches get weird on B&B.
After lunch, we saw that two riders had chalked a spot where they had stopped, so we went to see who it was and what they were up to. It was two of our leaders Ryan and Steven, who had found a cliff to jump off of into the water (not super high, but high enough to make you nervous to jump off!). We joined them! This is the kind of adventure that I’d been looking forward to on bike days!!
We had to stop a few more times along the way for people who stopped to swim in the Little River. This is what kinda sucks about sweep… You might be ready to just get to the host site, but you have to wait for everyone else. And considering the long day that we had the day before, our patience was running thin by late afternoon.
However, getting to look back at the mountains we just biked through in the last couple of days was pretty rewarding.
When we got to Maryville (apparently pronounced “Mer-ville” with a very heavy southern accent) we stopped at a local bike shop called Cycology (get it?!) and they were AWESOME because they checked out all 28 of our bikes to make sure nothing was wrong with them and then gave us supplies to clean them too! All for free! They also had snacks and drinks waiting for us upon arrival! They were the nicest people and we are so thankful for them!!
We got to the Boys & Girls Club that we were staying in for the next couple of days, as we would have a build day in Maryville the following day. To celebrate the success of making it into TN the day before and conquering the western NC mountains, we went out and got margaritas!
Day 17: Rained out build day in Maryville. It’s unfortunate when this happens because we enjoy working with communities and knowing that we’re making an impact, but it was POURING rain. By 7:15am, we had already gotten up and loaded the first group in the van, but by the time we got to the site, the Habitat chapter had cancelled the build day. So since we were already up and at it, we drove over to Starbucks, where Sarah (I call her Sare-bear) put on her charm and DM-ed 15 coffees and numerous pastries for all of us… All for free!!
Later in the day, we did a “team building” activity: a classic game of hide-and-go-seek. Then, some of the guys spent the rest of the day making a “no girls allowed” fort with blocks. The amount of maturity in one room was astonishing.
The host made us cotton candy too!
It was a relaxing day for napping, blogging, and just resting in general. It was much needed… Especially before 7 days of biking in a row! Yiiiikes.