67 miles (108 km) – Total so far: 659 miles (1,061 km)
Another 20-30 miles rolled by and I began to wonder what state I was in. I vaguely remembered that I’d be crossing into Tennessee at some point. Fortunately, by way of welcome, they told me not to burn their state to the ground.
But wait, dear reader! Let’s not think this trip is going to be all beautiful vistas and zen like serenity. Not one mile from the idyllic ‘lone homestead’ scene, I stumbled into the “WTF South.” Seriously. WTF. Apparently I found Jim Bob’s Stage Coach Graveyard and Shrine to Disney, the South, Naked Ladies, and Skeletor.
Around the same time I had passed Jim Bob’s SCGSDSNLS, I had noticed a strong uptick in the number of canines. I had experienced a little of this yesterday, but things got real today. I was chased by around 40 dogs today. No, I’m not exaggerating. Yes, some of them meant business. I’ve had enough experience with these pooches to create a classification system for the bike tourer.
Level 1: Harumphing Disapprovers Your basic laid back dog, too old or too mild to chase you. Don’t be fooled: they hate you. They would clamp their jaws around the throat of your soul. They’d just prefer if you’d come over and lay down in front of them to do it.
Level 2: Terrified Guardians These guys know they hate you, but not what to do about it yet. They always chase, but after it is clear they don’t have a chance to catch you.
Level 3: Downhill Chasers These guys decide to go for it. ‘Kill the bicycle beast’ they think while howling as they try to catch you as you are flying by downhill at 20 MPH. The ‘downhill’ here refers to the bike orientation, not the dog. Basically, if you are going downhill, its fine, you can outrun them.
Level 4: Uphill Chasers Starting to get serious now. These guys noticed you at about the time you were passing. Time to kick in some acceleration and get away. Funny how the legs don’t feel fatigued anymore.
Level 5: Uphill Interceptors Uh Oh! They saw you coming, and got a full head of steam before you were even close. Here’s the technique. Stick to the middle of the road, and just as you are about to pass/get mauled, veer off to the other side and blast your extra loud whistle with as much breath as you can possibly force through it. It should rupture your ear drums as well as the dogs. This scares the s!$# out of the pooch, but only once, and only for about 2 seconds. Fortunately, that downgrades them to a Level 4 Uphill Chaser. Proceed as per the usual.
Level 6: Uphill Gravel Road Bulldog Interceptor with Attitude OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT!
The final 10 miles of the day were riding along the Cumberland mountains and approaching the Cumberland Gap. I’m looking forward to Kentucky tomorrow. I may plot a route along busier roads to give myself a day off the dogs.