Friday, October 06, 2006

'Somebody is watching out for you'

He made it.

David Crocker said before his 600 mile trek began that Day 3 and Day 6 would be the hardest days of his journey.

"And it kind of turned out that way," Crocker says.

Today he had more hills to climb as he made his way from Morristown to Mountain City. And he was riding his bike directly into a wind coming out of the northeast.

"It was cooler and it was just harder."

On the final day of his journey, Crocker averaged only 17.1 miles per hour, by far the slowest day. He traveled 102 miles in five hours and 50 minutes.

"Bicyclists hate the wind when it's in your face. It was unrelenting today. Worse than climbing a hill."

The wind aside, Crocker loved his journey through upper East Tennessee.

"Really beautiful scenery," he says. "North of Elizabethton, it was really pretty."

Crocker says the foothills area is less populated and the homeplaces are extremely well preserved.

But it was the wind -- and that cool windchill -- that caused most of the problems today.

"The last few miles were really brutal. I didn't have any extra clothes on, no arm or leg warmers. So (at the end) there was a good bit of relief and a huge sense of accomplishment.

"And it was quite meaningful. I'll have it as a memory for the rest of my life."

Crocker says if someone had asked him before the trip if he would really make the entire 600 miles, he would have given himself a 50/50 chance.

"Either because of the weather or just after four or five consecutive days, I would have a time where I just couldn't do it. But that didn't happen."

But something funny did happen. At the end of his trip, after 600 miles without mechanical problems, Crocker found himself at an intersection in Mountain City, the final stop on his tour.

His wife, Clara, was waiting in a church parking lot to take pictures and help him prepare for the journey home.

"Literally at the very end after I got off the bike, and I put it up on the rack, the tire went flat. I had picked up a little staple somewhere in Mountain City. I had thought about changing the tire the night before, but thought I could get one more day out of it. Which I did -- barely.

"You get the feeling that somebody is watching out for you. You know they say that God watches over drunks and fools. I don't think there is any doubt which category I fit in!"

As the sun sets on his journey, Crocker says he is really glad he made the trip.

"As far as the bike riding goes, I feel very good about what I was able to do. The remaining thing is I hope we get enough money to build a Habitat house in Knoxville, to see a family move in and get joy from that."

After such an adventure, it's hard to believe money will be an issue.

Donations for David Crocker's 600-mile journey across Tennessee, all of which will go toward the building of a Habitat for Humanity house in Knoxville, can be sent to David Crocker, 4815 Santa Monica Road, Knoxville, TN, 37918. Make checks payable to Habitat for Humanity, earmarked "Bike Ride House." None of the funds given for this project will be used to pay the expenses of the bike ride.


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