Day 12-13: Newport, TN to Knoxville, TN
Total Mileage: 52 miles (plus a service/rest day)
Initially, today’s route was supposed to be around 75 miles to Knoxville, TN with a 20+ mile detour to Tuckaleechee Caverns, but a majority of the team was feeling a bit exhausted from the 3-day climb in the Appalachians and opted for a more direct and shorter route to our host, St. James Episcopal Church. We made the decision after the first water stop, so we had to reroute a bit. Michael, Kat, and Katrina decided to go with the detour and visited the caverns, rolling into the host after 9pm. The rest of us took the 52-mile roundtrip route to Knoxville.
Today’s team name: Team Ali Straub with Ali, Lauren, Sara, and Hilary. We couldn’t really figure out a name for our team, so Ali just screamed out that the team should be named after her. As soon as we were about to leave for the host after lunch, a wave of thunderstorms rolled in, so we had to take shelter at one of the local churches. They told us another wave of storms was coming, so we left as one large group and tried booking our way to the host. The second wave ended up hitting us as we entered Knoxville, and at this point, I was with Hilary and Rachael. We do not bike when there is thunder and lightning, but we do bike in rain. Even with the wave of thunderstorms, we got to the host before 4, which is a great feeling because we all had time to relax. Most of us went out that night to explore Knoxville.
On day 13, the team split up into two groups for our service day: half went to the Ronald McDonald house and my group went to the Covenant Health Fellowship Center, which is a free outpatient lodging center. As always, we introduced ourselves to the service coordinators and cancer survivors that were there to greet us, explaining the 4K and who we fight for. Some team members did yard work, cleaned up the outpatient rooms, sanded and repainted benches, and trimmed the trees in front of the fellowship center. Two cancer survivors served the team lunch today and expressed how thankful they were to us for doing the 4K for Cancer.
We spent a couple hours in downtown Knoxville exploring the city and walked through University of Tennessee’s campus. Having down time is a gift since most of our time in the cities we pass through is on bikes. We go from one city to another, with little time to explore on foot, so we value our service/rest days and do our best to make the most out of our time.
Special shoutout to Greenlee’s Bike Shop for showing our mechanics a couple tricks when dealing with bike issues and fixing my bike, along with Carolyn and Kat’s bikes. Greenlee’s Bicycle Hospital is the oldest family owned bike shop in the US and the 7th oldest in the world, operating since 1899. Absolutely great service and big thanks to them for servicing our bikes for free.