My last update was 12 days ago. Since then I have crossed into Mississippi, Alabama, and then Florida. Today marks the first month on the road since leaving town. Currently I’m very happy and content- but as the rolling hills of Alabama tested my legs and lungs, the last 12 days have been a roller coaster of emotions. I had absolutely amazing days and nights, and wanted to quit the whole thing on others.
Sorry mom, but some of the roads that the Underground Railroad follows should NOT be cycled. My problem with two lane roads with no shoulder and a 55 mph speed limit, fairly constant stream of cars in both directions and a few logging trucks, is riding on them. It’s terrifying. On those roads, I’m no longer the virtuous/adventurous biker, I’m the dick-head slowing down traffic. I’m ok with being wrong and a jerk every once in a while, but not when every person has a weapon that could annihilate me.
It’s tough to get off the bike and walk, or ride really slow in the grass, but sometimes it’s just necessary. Although my rear-view helmet mirror is a source of much anxiety, it came in handy a few times. Log trucks really hate stopping, so they won’t, the people driving those trucks have no soul (probably). At least day-dreaming about slashing tires and whopping ass (psych!) makes the time go by. I want to learn karate just so I can walk up to a trucker and karate chop their dumb heads.
I think the biggest improvement of this trip was getting my tent in the mail. Before that I had (two) too many miserable nights slapping mosquitoes away from my face, sweating in my fully zipped up sleeping bag. If they would just suck my blood and leave, that’s fine, but they always take a trip by my ears *BUZZZZ*. Never thought bugs could make me so mad, but they really got to me. The first night that I had my tent, it was set-up and everything I needed was tossed in, once I crawled in and zipped up…oh my gosh it was amazing. The rain fly doesn’t go on for me unless it might rain, the stars and moon were out in full force, I just laid there and smiled. A little reprieve from the elements goes a long way.
The Logistics 9/30 — 10/11
Total trip: Waverly, TN -> Pensacola, FL = 622 miles (by adventure cycling maps)
- 9/30: Waverly, TN -> Decaturville, TN (behind The Diner) = 72 miles
- 10/1: Decaturville, TN -> Tishomingo State Park, MS (campground) = 97 miles
- 10/2: Tishomingo S.P. -> Amory, MS (Tenn-Tom inn) = 58.5 miles
- 10/3: Amory, MS -> Town Creek Road, MS ( COE campground)= 43 miles
- 10/4: Town Creek Rd. -> Pickensville, AL (COE campground) = 39 miles
- 10/5: Pickensville, AL -> Demopolis, AL (Days Inn) = 85 miles
- 10/6: Stayed in Demopolis = 0 (~6 miles)
- 10/7: Demopolis, AL -> Bladon Springs County Park, AL (old campground) = 79 miles
- 10/8: Bladon Springs, AL -> Grove Hill, AL (municipal park) = 51 miles
- 10/9: Grove Hill, AL -> Hubbard Landing Rd, AL (campground) = 66.5 miles
- 10/10: Hubbard Landing Rd, AL -> Pensacola, FL (extended family’s home) = 70 miles
- 10/11: Around Pensacola = 0 (~7 miles)
Total mileage = 661 (not counting rest days)
Miles/day average = 55
What I’ve learned
- Taking a day off is crucial. Sometimes I wear myself out with all the riding, and the mosquito-filled nights, and junk food. There were times when I was not feeling good about the trip and taking an easy day, or a day off really helps. I had my tent mailed to Linden, AL so that I had an excuse to spend an extra night in the Days Inn in Demopolis.
- I crave fresh fruit after not having it for a while. At the Walmart in Demopolis I bought a bag of apples, several plums, watermelon, grapes, bananas, and then ate it all while laying in bed watching TV. That was refreshing!
- I picked up a book at the Demopolis library for 25 cents! and why haven’t I gone into libraries more often before this trip? Reading is a great boredom reliever and helps me go to sleep. I am reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, in hopes that he can help guide my life-decisions…so far I’m just very confused.
- MPGc (miles per gallon of coffee) should be a bike touring measurement. I would guess that I get about 1000 MPGc on this trip.
- Riding on the scarier roads is unfortunately just part of this trip. I hope that there is not too many of them, the Southern Tier route is more popular and thus should have bigger shoulders. I don’t know though.
- Having a bug-free shelter helps me maintain my sanity.
- Talking to the police department before camping in a town is key. They have all been really helpful. The E-911 dispatch in Clarke County Alabama gave me a gift of $19 with a note that said God bless you. I passed it on to my bike kitchen fundraiser.
- The hospitality and generosity of strangers fueled my soul this trip. It’s hard to be the vulnerable person and receive help, but there are so many good people out there. I’ve been offered money three times in the last 12 days, everyone is genuinely concerned for my safety (in a good way), I was able to hangout at other people’s fires in campgrounds and one family offered me food and drinks. A lot of talk happens about the world going crazy and falling apart, but I haven’t seen much of that. I’m starting to think the opposite, that the craziness is becoming more exposed through unfiltered lenses, and we are all slowly coming to grips with that and getting our act together. Being generous and friendly to strangers is a good way to spread the joy.
Thanks for reading,