The original plan was to drive from Oak Ridge to Tellico Plains on Saturday, ride River Road (which runs along the Tellico River up toward the North Carolina/Tennessee border) on Sunday, and have a day off work on Monday. However, looking at the weather forecast the week before, it looked like Saturday would wind up being the nicer day — about 10 degrees warmer and more pleasant. As it turned out, they were pretty much identical. The weather man was mistaken.
In any case, I took Friday off work rather than Monday and we drove down Friday, did the ride Saturday, and came home on Sunday (today!).
We stayed at The Lodge at Tellico, which turned out to be delightful. Our room (one quarter of a large cabin) had a porch overlooking a goldfish pond surrounded by trees and flowers. Water babbled from a higher pool to a lower one, providing a soothing “babbling brook” sound during our whole visit. Birds flitted through the trees and sang to us. We saw blue birds, a mated pair of cardinals, a robin. We watched the goldfish push a pond lily around their pool. We spent several hours in the rocking chairs on the porch.
The room was very comfortable, with a private bath, king bed, beautiful hard wood floor, and jacuzzi.
Saturday morning, we were up early to get a good parking place to launch our bike ride from. We drove from the hotel six miles or so to the beginning of River Road off the Cherohala Skyway. The Skyway is pretty heavily travelled — it’s a favorite of motorcycle riders — but River Road has much less traffic. We were started riding by a little before quarter to nine.
River Road is a fairly narrow road with no shoulder, but the traffic was light and slow enough that this didn’t pose a problem. When cars came along, I dropped back behind Karen and we rode single file until they were past. Most of the time we were able to ride abreast and talk.
River Road slopes gently up from the point where we began our ride as it follows the river toward the state line eighteen miles away (along the road — it’s probably much shorter as the crow flies since the river, and therefore the road, has lots of curves). We weren’t sure how much riding up the gentle hill was going to tax us. As it turned out, it was more than expected.
By the time we reached Bald River Falls about six miles into the ride, we were both starting to get tired.
However, we also both needed a restroom. Thankfully, about a quarter mile past the falls, there was a parking lot/picnic area with pit toilets and bear-proof waste containers. We took a break, had a snack, caught our breath, and then coasted back to the car. Our total distance wound up being about 13 miles in just under two hours.
We plan to go back and do the rest of the distance to the North Carolina border, in stages if that’s what it takes.