We rode today on a mix of highways. Crumbling. Newly paved. Wide smooth shoulders. No shoulders. Designated bike lanes – the kind that make drivers think bicycles should be off the driving lane, even when the bike lane is too narrow to navigate, or not passable – due to cracks, gravel, potholes, debris, even an open rural-mailbox door that takes up half the bike lane.
From a country road, we glimpsed a white crane in a pond. By the time we doubled back for a good look, the crane had gone. We met Joey Click instead. (His shirt says Jim; that’s his brother in Arizona, who sponsors a bike team.)
Joey and Jeffrey had a great chat about the joy of having enough – but not too much. Joey is a bass player for the Josh Turner country music band. The work is fun but requires travel; he takes his bike along for head-clearing rides, and his wife is a teacher who anchors the family in a regular schedule. Joey told an interesting story about a friend who survived a bike crash after a kid in a truck threw a water bottle at him; the friend refused to press charges and forgave his attacker.
We took a break at a convenience store. This place, like many others in this region, sells pure gasoline. We don’t know the effect on air pollution, but pure gasoline provides higher mileage than an ethanol mix.
Like several other small-business persons we’ve met in this area, the woman behind the counter grew up near Mumbai. She lived in Georgia and Florida before moving to Tennessee to join family here. Like last night’s hotel proprietor, she had only good things to say about her America-born neighbors and customers.
Outside, Jeffrey asked this gentleman why he is barefoot.
The man said he just likes the way it feels.
We continued through an increasingly crowded and suburbanized landscape until we encountered Barbara and Kenneth at the entrance to a bikeway along a busy highway. They pointed us to a path that would let us avoid the increasingly nerve-wracking rush of cars and trucks.
Barbara grew up near Pittsburgh. Kenneth is in the landscaping and horticulture business. They are kind and friendly people.
Kenneth asked whether Jeffrey is Christian. Jeffrey has been asked that several times on this Ride. The question led to a discussion of the kinship of the Peoples of the Book. Kenneth expressed unease with American Muslim schools that, he and Barbara said, indoctrinate children with violent notions of jihad (which are associated with particular minority strains of Islam). Jeffrey told brief anecdotes about some of his Muslim clients – good, peaceful, hardworking people who love America and who reject the version of religion that upsets this couple.
None of us wants people in our community who promote violence. So far as we know, there are few-to-no “violent jihad” schools in the U.S. Our worry is that by mistakenly tarring the Muslim community with this brush, we could alienate that community and create the very problem that we seek to avoid.
Another person we met earlier on this Ride said he was worried about the 50 (fictional) American jurisdictions that, he said, recognize Sharia law. The power of these myths is sobering. Read our earlier post, The Backfire Effect, to see why.
Grateful for the food for thought, and for the route advice, we proceeded to the Music City Bikeway. We were in Hermitage – Andrew Jackson country – part of Greater Nashville.
(Photo courtesy of a passerby.)
This bike path was great. Note the raindrops on the fairing – better on the Chopper than on Jeffrey’s legs. (The rain soon stopped.)
But it wasn’t long before our GPS diverted us onto streets – the usual mix of good, bad, and terrible. Then we saw the Nashville skyline, distinctive with the building reminiscent of Batman’s cowl.
We made our way through an industrial area to the Vanderbilt University neighborhood.
Tomorrow we’ll get our bearings and meet some local people to talk about immigrants, refugees, human rights, the TIRRC, and Human Rights First.