Friday, May 7, 2010

Memphis, Tennessee

Another 103 miles down (208 miles for the 2 day total), and another day in the heat of the south.  We rode about 30 miles before crossing over into Mississippi (new state #5) by crossing the Mississippi River, the climb up and over the bridge was pretty intense due to the heavy traffic and lack of shoulder but we still managed to stop and snap a couple of pictures at the pinnacle.  Shortly after crossing into Mississippi we made a left hand turn and headed north on Highway 61, a familiar road for someone who grew up in eastern Iowa.  Another few hundred miles north on that highway and you could end up in my front yard but Memphis was our destination for the day so I didn’t quite make it that far.  Highway 61 was a busy four lane highway and we had to ride on it for about 35 miles before turning on to a quiet winding back road which took us around the south side of Memphis.  We crossed into Tennessee just as we were approaching our destination for the night, the First Baptist Church of Germantown.  I think we were all glad to see the church come in to view after the incredible number of miles we had covered in the past 2 days, 2 century rides in 2 days is a cycling feat even for the best riders and our front group road them hard both days. The ride wasn’t one of my favorite because of the weather and the road conditions but we were all in a good mood because of our accomplishment.  Some members of the Memphis Hightailers, the local cycling team were waiting at the church to welcome us in with waters, Gatorade and pizza.  They had also gone ahead and made reservations for the entire team at one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at.  The Rendezvous is located down a set of stairs in a back alley in downtown Memphis, the directions we were given weren’t even to the actual restaurant but to the hotel across the street where we were to ask for directions on how to get there.  The Rendezvous is famous for ribs and everyone from professional athletes, dignitaries, and the last 5 presidents could be found pictured on their walls as patrons.  President Obama personally gets them shipped in to his family.  The Hightailers picked up the bar tab for the night so we had a lot of fun even before heading to Beale Street which is world famous for it’s nightlife.  Beale Street is 2 blocks of bars, restaurants, and open containers reminiscent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, we spent the night hopping from blues club to blues club sampling the local music scene before closing the night by doing some performing of our own at a dive karaoke bar.

We dipped into Mississippi for awhile.

Fancy kitchen. Amazing ribs.

Beale St. at night.

The bars were so welcoming of us.

A couple of tired cyclists.

The congregation of the church we stayed at was super serious about their pickleball.  We were woken up at 630 am by a group playing and I don't think they stopped the entire day. They had multiple state champions and some had even competed at the national level. Pretty awesome.

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