Each episode of Tennessee Uncharted documents the experiences of Erick and his crew across the State of Tennessee. This is the full text of the short story that resulted from their adventure in Middle TN.

“Like a true nature’s child, we were born, born to be wild.”

When I was a kid, I had a cassette tape of Steppenwolf’s Greatest Hits. And I can’t tell you how many times I popped that tape into my Sony Walkman, fast forwarded to the song Born To Be Wild, and hit the streets on my Huffy BMX bike, searching for something new and exciting to discover, ready to take on the world.

When we’re young, we’re fearless. Mortality is nothing more than just another word that’s hard to pronounce. Scrapes, bumps, bruises, and broken bones are just part of doing daily business as a kid.  But as adults, we often get too caught up in the possibility of losing our lives and lose sight of what it really means to live. Now I’m not saying that adulthood should be lived with the same reckless abandon of our youth. At some point, we all have to grow up. But what I am trying to say, is that “growing up” doesn’t have to be boring.

On this episode of TNU, I’ve got my motor running, and I’m heading out on the highway to Hurricane Mills, TN, looking for adventure in whatever comes my way at the annual Middle Tennessee Dirt Rider’s Spring Ride at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.

Dirt Bike Prep w/ Thomas:
Over the last two years on this show, I’ve been able to ride on some pretty sweet wheels. I’ve ridden roller coasters, riding lawn mowers, tractors, and ATVs…But I felt like it was about time to take things to the next level. So today, I’m making the jump from my old Huffy to the granddaddy of all off-road bikes…The dirt bike.

In case you didn’t know, my wife was a nurse for 10 years, so the word “motorcycle” is a pretty big buzz word around our house, usually used in a sentence that sounds something like… “You’re never going to get a motorcycle.”  Not to worry, though, thanks to my life insurance policy, I was able to get her consent to go for a ride.

However, this being my first time on a motorcycle, safety was a big concern for me as well, but, once I started gearing up, most of my worries started to fade. Because by the time I got everything on…Helmet, chest plate, knee braces, moon boots, uniform…I felt like I was going into battle more than just going for a ride. So I figured if I felt safe to walk into a sword fight, I should be good to go to get on a motorcycle.

Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle on ice?  Well, it’s a lot like trying to ride a motorcycle for the first time in the mud. So with that being said, the conditions for today’s ride were less than ideal. Let’s just say they’re called dirt bikes, not mud bikes, for a reason.

But as they say, with great risk, comes great reward.  And even though my first ride had a few falls, it was definitely enough to kick start my interest. Today I may not have ridden any wheelies or even gotten out of 2nd gear for that matter, but at least for a few minutes, I did get to feel a little closer to the boy I used to be.

MTDR Spring Ride at Loretta’s:
At this point, I’ve barely even balanced a dirt bike, but already, it’s expanding my horizons and taking me to a new part of the state, Hurricane Mills, located about 75 miles West of Nashville, right in the center of Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.

Back in 1966, Loretta Lynn and her husband Mooney bought this beautiful piece property, complete with the entire town of Hurricane Mills. This is where they raised their family, and they proudly state that this ranch is much more than just a tourist destination, it’s home. since 1974, they’ve opened their home and all of its 6500 acres to the world, giving devoted fans and weary travelers alike a chance to feel like part of the family.

Today, Loretta Lynn’s Ranch is one of the most visited attractions in TN.  In addition to the many historical buildings and museums here that chronicle Loretta’s life and career, there are also a wide range of activities year round, including concerts, rodeos, camping, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, and fishing.

But today, Hurricane Mills is not only the center of Loretta’s Ranch, but also the center of the Middle TN Dirt Rider’s Spring Ride, a family oriented group connected by the shared love of one common interest…dirt bike riding.

It’s one thing to ride in circles in an open field, but it’s something very different to ride a narrow trail through the woods. Now I’ve got the added worry of hitting a tree to deal with. So before I hit the trail, I wanted one more training session to make sure I was ready to ride.

I was a little nervous at first when I saw just how many people were here.  It’s pretty intimidating seeing hundreds of dirt bikes buzzing around when you barely even know how to start one. But thankfully, I wasn’t the only beginner here.  And honestly, I can’t think of a better place to learn to ride.  I was surrounded by experienced and knowledgeable riders, who couldn’t have been more encouraging.  There were riding opportunities for all ages and skill levels. And MTDR does a great job making sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time. Once I hit the trail and realized it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be, I was finally able to relax and enjoy the ride.

But beyond the riding, the best part of the weekend was being part of this community, this family. These folks not only know how to balance their bikes but know how to keep a healthy balance of adventure in their lives as well, all in a family atmosphere. After just a few miles on the trail and a couple of cold nights sharing campfires and cold beverages, I can definitely say that I’ve felt the thrill and seen the beauty of dirt biking.

Tayla Lynn/Erick and Crew Enjoy The Ranch:
As I mentioned, this ranch is more than just a destination for the Lynn family, it truly is their home.  And while for many, adventure usually means leaving home, for Tayla Lynn, Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter, it meant coming back.

I don’t believe that Loretta Lynn ever recorded “Born To Be Wild”, but her songwriting was anything but tame. Using her own experiences as inspiration, the subject matter in her songs pushed the boundaries of country music and paved a way for female artists to follow. And after having my eyes opened to another great community just by trying something new, as well as hearing what makes the ranch so special to the Lynns that they want to share it with others, the crew and I decided to push our own limits and enjoyed everything else the ranch has to offer.

Stocking Trout w/ TWRA:
The “A” in TWRA doesn’t officially stand for “adventure”, but since they make many of the adventures that are available here in TN possible, I believe that in many ways, it does. And today, I’m helping them provide the folks in this area an opportunity to experience a fishing adventure that traditionally has only been enjoyed in the waters of East TN.

Beer and Hymns:
With all this inspiration and harmony in my heart, I’ve decided to make one final stop on my way out of town to sing my praises with a group of folks who are raising the spirits of Nashville with an unlikely musical combination...Beer and Hymns.

In a big city where most folks probably don’t even know who their neighbors are, Beer and Hymns is a musical adventure that’s bringing people together, creating an open minded and accessible community, connected by the spirit of love.

They say that life is meant to be an adventure.  And I really do believe that to some degree we were all born to be wild.  But as we get older, time has a tendency to tame us.  We start taking fewer chances, measuring the consequences of our choices to the point that we stop moving forward. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with playing it safe, just don’t live so cautiously that you miss out on life.

Looking back, before I started working on this show, I realize that the daily business of being an adult had dulled me. At some point, it became more about getting through the day, rather than making the most of it. But as the days pass and the volume on our sense of adventure is slowly turned down, we lose a lot more than just the sounds of a great classic rock song. Because as I look back on the last few days, it scares me to think of all the things I would have missed if I’d never taken that first ride.

You may never ride a motorcycle, but that doesn’t mean adventure isn’t out there waiting for you. I know that it’s not easy to try something new, but this episode has taught me that it can be as simple as singing an old song with a new group of friends, or for some, just taking a trip back home. Sometimes all you need is a Sony Walkman and the wise words of Steppenwolf…“Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen. Take the world in a loving embrace.  Fire all of your guns at once, and explode into space.” Because after all, we were born to be wild.