Sunday, November 20, 2011

One month since the end of the East Coast ride. Time does, indeed, go fast. Seems like just yesterday we were cruising along the outer banks. Anyway time to moves on. On the shoulder issue. Torn rotator was not able to be repaired so I will rehab it and if I'm not satisfied with the results they will replace the entire shoulder joint. As the doc said "your shoulder is shot". I wondered if that is proper "doctor speak" but what the heck. The good news is that I am still able to ride and while I am spending time at the rec center on the stationary bike I was able to go outside a few times since I've been back. I even tried the recumbent stationary bike but didn't like it much so back to the upright. Trying to decide when my next big adventure will be but it won't be for awhile. I'm still intrigued by the Great Alaskan highway and that might still be in the future. For now, its winter biking inside.
Also, when asked which was the better ride, cross country or east coast, I explained they were both unique with advantages and disadvandates to both. So, it is difficult to compare them. Enough for now but updates soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Amy and Scott at Daytona airport before leaving-nice hats

Hank, when not riding his bicycle

Last day in DatonaBeach-advertising Russells Cycle

Good friend Bill and me

Don, me and Michael from Canada one of 3 riders from other country

East Coast riders from 09 cross country ride-Me, Mike T, Jack, Al, Jim, Tom D, Tom Bob, Hank and Peter up front in m

Marsha Rae
Central Illinois Alzheimers Assn
606 W. Glen
Peoria, Il
note-Champ Walker East Coast bike ride
Never to late to make a contribution


East Coast Ride complete. Time for reflections on the journey. All in all I would recommend this ride for any bicyclist who likes to ride longer distances. In terms of terrain, it is not terrible difficult. After the first week of going through the mountains of Maine, Delaware, New Hamsphire, New York and Massachusetts the road flattens out. For some that is disappointing because many of the riders on this trip enjoy the challenge of climbing. So, if that is ones pleasure, a West Coast ride would be preferable. The advantage of the East Coast ride is the amount of early American history available to enjoy. With that in mind, here is a good place to start.
Beginning in Bar Harbor, Maine with its connection to J.D. Rockefeller, travelling through all the small towns with their own unique history, finally arriving in Portland with its ship building tradition, this trip started in the midst of Americana. The famous lighthouse in Portland was definitely one of the visual highlights of the Northeast. Working our way south I was physically able to attend actual geographic sites I had taught about for over 35 years. Fort Clinton and the Battle of Saratoga, New York, which was the turning point of the American Revolution, to the various battle sites that abound in this part of America all added to the overall
We trekked south with stops in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and believe me there were plenty of stops as we rode through the mountains in those states. Travelling through New York, especially Bear Mountain Park and crossing the bridge over the Hudson river added to the historical significance of the ride. Having left the mountains the history tour went through New Jersey, notably Somerset where the first Marconi broadcast of the radio wave in America occurred. Through Delaware and Maryland our route turned toward the ATLANTIC ocean and it was here we noticed the remains of the devastation that hurricane Irene wreaked on this area. Many roads were still under repair, and mile after mile of litter that still remained, did not deter the people from being resolute in their approach to recovery . In typical American style, they were determined to rebuilt their property and their lives back to which they were accustomed.
As we ventured into the Southern states, the southern culture was evident in speech, manners and historical tradition. Without question, one of the highlights of the trip was the Wright Brother Memorial Park at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In all the places we stopped, we met quite a few southerners who exemplified these characteristics. As we continued through the outer bank areas of resort towns and condos a "laid back" way of life was evident. The attitude seemed to be "don't worry, be happy". Vacation home after vacation home with names painted on them like Pink Monkey and Rusty Anchor seemed to illustrate this point. Plus, for the historically inclined Ocaracoke island of this area was the site of Blackbeard's final battle.
Heading further south Savannah, South Carolina, of course, was another highlight that probably matched Kitty Hawk. To the extent I could have spent a week in Savannah gives testimony as to its importance. Then, when we entered Florida, well, its Florida. What can you say. The oldest permanent European settlement at St. Augustine draws historical buffs from around the country to experience the culture. There is a reason that so many of the seniors retire to that state. Even on a bad weather day it's still a good day. Miles and miles of ocean beach, sunny skies, and cooling wind, especially when the humidity is low, entice visitors to come and for those reasons, decide to stay. I reiterate, the history of this trip was a major reason I decided to do the ride and it was not lost on those riders who are not history "buffs".
Here is the irony at the end of our bike trip. Riding a bicycle is a rather pristine way of enjoying travel from place to place. Another form of biking, of course, is motorcycles. So on our last day we shared Datona Beach with over a hundred thousand bikers. Ha!! Motorcycles that is!!
Now for the weather. It rained many of the days we rode. I have stated often in this blog I do not mind the rain unless it endangers the riders or is of monsoon proportions. On the rain issue, I determined it doesn't do any good to put on rain gear in an attempt to stay dry. While covered in a waterproof raincoat, because there is not adaquate ventilation, I sweat so profusely, that I am totally drenched by the end of the ride. So, if I decide to ride in a rain, and it is not extraordinarily cold I will not wear rain gear. Wet is wet.
At the end of the ride, many commented on how many rainy days we encountered. I had to remind them that after leaving Jacksonville NC we had a tailwind virtually all the way to Datona. Given rain versus wind, give me rain any day. And, in fact, the last three days were a bikers dream in terms of weather. I mean, really, averaging over 20 mph at 50 plus mph for a rider like myself is unheard of. Lance Armstrong, on your left, I'm passing you. Ha, yea, right. In my dreams. So, weather was not much of a negative on the ride.
Now for the coup de etat. That involves the relationships made with other riders over a three and a half week period of time. I am not being soliticitous but there is not one single person on this ride that I didn't like. I'm not sure the feeling is reciprocated but I had some incredible interactions with the riders. There were 25 in all and it was great. That doesn't mean that sociological factors didn't come into play, but not to the degree that animosities were evident. Let me begin with the two riders with which I had little interaction. Obviously, I will use first names only to protect the guilty. Michael, one of the three foreign riders, and Sam were usually so far ahead that I didn't get much interaction with them. They were very nice fellows and very strong riders.
To begin, we have five riders, all of the class of 09, who were always out fast and early in. Jim, Al, Peter, Mike T, and Jack (another of our foreign riders from Israel). Jim, being the navigator and resident intellectual, Al the consummate Michigan machine, Mike T with legs spinning like pistons even as he is recovering from back issues and Jack (one of my favorites) who rides like the wind and you never see him without a smile on his face they set the tempo. If you want to ride fast join us (as I did for one 35 mile stretch) if not enjoy the ride at whatever pace you like.
Stu, another very strong rider, rides a style similar to mine. If he is in a peleton he likes to be at the back and apart from the rider in front. That is, he is uncomfortable riding on anther's wheel. Because of his riding style he prefers to be alone and ahead of slower riders. Heading into Beauford SC, as I was riding alone, I saw him in the distance. After several miles miles I caught him at a stoplight and asked. "Were you trying to lose me?" "No," he replied "I didn't see you".
When the light changed he took off like a bat out of hell. No way could I stay with him. After about a mile another red light stopped Stu. When I caught him he said "That time I was" I cracked up. Stu showed me he was toying with me and could out ride me at his leisure.
Then there is Don. He can ride with any of the groups and usually did. He had the ability to ride ahead of the fast group, and did on the 120 mile day ride, as well as the more leisurely riders like myself and the group I would occasionally ride. I found him a very interesting person as well as bike rider. He probably took more pictures than me and I took about 500. Glad I got to know him.
Now I will introduce the people with whom I would ride. They are all strong riders but choose to enjoy a slower pace, take pictures and stop when the occasion arose to either get something to eat, rest one's weary keester, or answer the call of nature. A very eclectic group. Usually leading this crew was Larry. At the beginning of the trip he would stop and take many pictures. But, since we all have bit of competitiveness in us, by the end of the ride he would abandon us after the first SAG to ride at a faster pace. That was fine with the rest of us as we all had our own agendas.
Also in this group was Tom. Again, another strong rider who would, when he wanted to show this ability, sprint to the front of the pack to lead the group. Or, if he got behind for some reason he would sprint and eventually catch up. One enduring trait about Tom is that when there was a lull in the conversation, you could always count on him to keep the conversation going. He could talk a blue streak and never miss a beat.
Chris was the only female that rode with this group. What a tremendous individual to put up with we knuckleheads for most of the ride. She was as good a rider as there was in our group and it was a pleasure to have shared the ride with her.
Bill was another of this group. In the beginning we relied on him to be sure we did not get lost so he was at the front of the pack. I first met him when, after the second day, I had severe leg cramps. I knew that I had not hydrated enough that day and payed the price. Bill was generous enough to let me have some of his electrolyte tablets and my cramps never reoccurred. Also, toward the end of the ride I was having issues with punctures to my front tire. On one occasion, after a flat, Bill stopped to render assistance. I indicated that it wasn't necessary and I would catch the group when the repair was finished. He refused to leave and helped with the repair. So, when he left his camera at the loading zone on the last ferry of the trip a few days later, he went back to retrieve it, I decided to wait for him until he returned about 45 minutes later. Several other riders did the same.
The next of this group is Bob, one individual for which I have a great deal of admiration. Before this trip, the last time I saw him he was laying on the pavement in Delaware, Ohio having being struck by a motorcyclist. This happened on the cross country ride in 09. Spending months in recovery, Bob once again jumped on his bicycle and started pedaling. Lesser individuals would have gotten into another sport like shuffleboard. Not Bob. Not only did he begin biking again and join us on the East Coast ride, but he was as strong a rider as anyone in the group. Kudos to you Bob. You exemplify what spirit and determination can accomplish.
Last but certainly not least and one of the strongest riders in our group was Doug. He, like Harry from 09, is from England. I love the accent and can even, most times anyway, understand what he is saying. A happier disposition, well maybe Jack, could not be found with this group. I really enjoyed Doug as he allowed a picture be taken of him at Ft. Clinton near Saratoga NY where the British were soundly defeated by the colonists. If you check, he is laying on the ground under the sign with my foot poised over him. What a great attitude. However, he paid me back toward the end of the journey when, after me getting a flat tire, he broke from the group to come back to help. In my haste to get back on the road, I inadvertently put the same tube on my wheel that had flatted. A big no no. He and I were the only ones who knew that, but, by the end of the day, word spread like wildfire and I was the subject much ridicule. Much deserved by the way. To show his competitiveness and biking ability, a bicyclist not from the cross roads group, much younger and a lot stronger, blew by us. Doug said, let's catch him. He and I started out in a sprint. As the mph neared 26-27 mph, we knew we were gaining on him but not much. So, discretion being the better part of valor, I dropped the chase to rejoin our group. Not Dougie. He not only kept that pace but caught the guy and stayed with him until it was time to change routes. Now that was impressive. Doug is a good man and I am glad to have ridden with him. these are the ones that I became more familiar with during the trip through having ridden with them most. There are also other members of the East Coast ride who I didn't get to know as well but have determined they all are very strong bikers.
Mike (13) and Charlie rode together almost all the time. They were in no hurry, enjoyed their own pace and seemed to really enjoy the experience. While I didn't ride with them much, I got to know them better in social situations at Ocracoke Island. They are definitely my kind of people. Frequenting particular establishments to savor the vast variety of brews available in these places was an excellent way to enjoy a rest day. These two gentlemen are the type of individuals worth getting to know better. It was my pleasure to have met them. Also, a special shout out to Charlie for sharing an ointment that improved a condition that developed in my shoulder.
Two others who I didn't really get to know until later were Amy and Scott. They rode together at their own pace, took many pictures and seemed to really enjoy the experience. They to were strong riders as was shown when our group was lost in their dust heading into St. Augustine Fl.
Scott is another individual from Illinois so what would one expect. Great going downhill but struggles somewhat when climbing. Just like me.
Always try to save the best for last. We had six women on the ride, two already mentioned and four others; Jan, Bev, Barb, and Ilze. Make no mistake about it. These women are excellent bicyclists. While I did not get to know them as well as others in the group they biked with as much determination and spirit as anyone on the trip. Jan saved my when my computer went weird, Bev is the most positive person with an infectious smile, Barb was great with hat day at the SAG and Ilze, Mike's wife, was kind enough to send me Elvis pictures when I failed to bring it to Elvis Fest. My hat goes off to them. They embrace the attitude that empowers today's women. I cannot say enough to express my admiration for them.
Okay, Hank. Don't worry, I didn't forget about you. I have met few people in my experience like Hank. When one is seventy six years old you would think the highlight of their day would be to watch reruns of The Rockford Files. Not Hank. First, and I'm not making this up, he is one of the strongest riders of the entire group. His riding style is so unique, he is always the easiest to identify among the riders. He exemplifies the attitude that age is only a number. If you set your mind to it you can accomplish it. Hank was my roommate on the 09 cross country ride and we share kindred spirit. He was the first to notice I was having a little shoulder difficulty and offered some well needed assistance. His constant humor and positive attitude is something I will always remember. I will always count him as a dear friend and hope his head doesn't explode with these compliments.
And finally, yea I hear the cheers, I would like to thank the support staff. Robin, always smiling, pleasant, happy disposition, Tom I still owe for the should massage, Mack without whom many riders would be walking because of his ability to repair bikes, Carol, you are awesome in every respect, well maybe except for choice of spouse, ha you know I'm kidding, and of course Tracy leader of the pack that has that ability few have to lead, inspire and motivate to do beyond what they believe they are capable. There, the end to another adventure. Of course there are untold stories but until next time adios.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two great members of the support team Robin and Carol

Taking a break in the sand on highway A1A

Riding with "Bubba and his babes"

View of ocean during ride on A1A

Srolling along Datona Beach

Larry receiving CrossRoads ma[

Day 25

Distance-53 miles- total miles with rest day riding, and backtracking because of a few wrong turns-1679 miles

Weather-perfect with a 10-15 miles tail wind

Today was the last riding day for the East Coast ride. St. Augustine to Datona Beach for a total of 53 miles. Now, you would think that after riding over one thousand six hundred miles the last day would be one of a leisurely nature. Well, you be the judge. Their was a tailwind of 10-15 mph and the morning temperature in St Augustine was 59 degrees. So, conditions were ripe for our group to ride in a very conservative nature and enjoy the sights of central Florida. We started out in a moderately fast pace of 17-18 mph. The individual leading our pace line was trying to stay with the riders who usually ride faster. It wasn't long before we were riding 20-21 mph on what was to be our last riding day. Not to be trifled with, the group of faster riders increased their speed to be sure we would not catch them and so it went until the first SAG at mile 23. Even with stops in the small towns along the way, our average speed was over 20 mph. At the SAG, I determined that I would not continue in this manner since I had already missed at least one good photo op. So I was happy to join Hank and his crew to finish out the final 20 miles.

One interesting observation I made is that when riding mile after mile of ocean views I never get bored while riding mile after mile between trees gets very boring. Someone needs to do the research and explain why that is so.

Now for the rest of the story. Ten miles from the end of a 1,650 mile ride, I broke a spoke on my rear tire. That caused the tire to go out of "true". Basically that means the tire is warped and will rub on the support bars and brakes. How depressing. Only 10 miles from the end and I would have to "bump" into our final destination in Datona Beach. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I would release my rear breaks. After doing so the tire spun and barely scrapped the support bar. So, I felt I could make 10 miles before the tire wore through and caused a puncture. I was off like a bolt of lightning. A slow bolt notwithstanding. While I had no rear break, and I certainly do not recommend anyone not ride with both brakes functioning properly, I had adequate breaking power with my front break. The good news is that I was able to navigate my way to the hotel and complete the ride without "bumping" the last ten miles. After a long walk on the beach, a couple of "dehydrating" drinks and a swim we were treated to a fine banquet to celebrate the end of the journey. Tomorrow I will summarize the East Coast ride.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This is the typical view of the road we rode mile after mile through the Carolinas and Georgia
Florida-Georgia border
No, I didn't fall. That's me resting while others are taking care of business
Crossing intercoastal waterway on bridge on A1A-Sorry about the
obstruction Access to Fernandina Beach FL
Fernandina Beach-Loved it-wide, long, relatively deserted
Day 23
Distance 61 miles- total to date 1,500
Weather 70-83 degrees
wind WSW 5-10 mph
Today was a 61 mile jaunt from Brunswick GA. to Fernadina Beach Fl. The scenery has not changed much since we entered Georgia; roads and pine trees. Our main route is CR17 and today it was not the crowded, congested four lane we have had the last few days. In fact, there were stretches where there was virtually no traffic. On the other hand, there is no shoulder for bikers so we had to be on the main road. Again there were "share the road" signs to help remind motorists there could be bicycles on the road. Oddly enough, one of the highlights of the last few days was watching a bunch of vultures devour a deer that had the misfortune of meeting the front of an automobile. I thought about stopping and taking a picture but thought better. Two reasons. First I don't think I would publish it on my blog because it was so gross. Secondly, I couldn't be sure those vultures wouldn't think of me as dessert so I deferred.
On another aside, I would like to compliment the Georgia rednecks for being consistent. Today, I rode with several of my brethren and as one particular pickup truck passed it revved its engine and discharged a huge plume of diesel smoke that engulfed the entire group. We literally could not see the road or other riders around us. Doug, our British rider, indicated he couldn't see a thing until the cloud dispersed. My guess is that conduct is a common tactic for those rednecks who need to get their kicks picking on the defenseless. Hopefully, their foolishness doesn't result in the injury, or worse to bicycle riders.
Ten miles from our destination, we turned onto the famous a1a that parallels the ocean. It is one of the major North/South arteries used by locals and tourists to access the many towns and cities that dot the eastern part of Florida. Plus, the wind that was coming from the west was now at our backs, so the last 10 miles were a breeze. (pun intended). We have two more riding days before we reaching the end of the tour.
Tomorrow, at 10:00 WHOI channel 19 is conducting an interview concerning my biking the East Coast.
Contributions to Alzheimers Assn:
Marsha Rae
Central Illinois Alzheimers Assn
606 w Glen
Peoria, Il. 61614
note-Champ Walker's EAst Coast Bike ride.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"smallest church in America" hummm smaller than one in NY?
actual stained glass window in "smallest church"
A giant entering "smallest church in America"
We need one of these in Illinois
Day 22
Distance-82 miles
Weather-fog, cloudy 78 degrees
wind-5-10 SW
Our ride today took us from Savannah, GA to Brunswhch, GA for a total of 82 miles. The day started out with the three F's: fog, flat, frieght. A fog shroud covered the entire Savannah area and at times visibility was less that a mile. All blinking lights were turned on. It may not have been difficult for the bikers to see, but certainly the motorist vision was impaired. Then, after about 2 miles a freight train blocked out path. It took almost 15-20 minutes for the train to move from the crossing. And finally, 8 miles into the ride I had a puncture. Thankfully, it was a front tire and didn't take long to fix. From then on, the ride went smoothly except for a head wind we encountered half way into the ride. The good news is that our group formed a "pace line" which really helps in those conditions. From then on it was a rather uneventful experience. The scenery, however, did not change much. When we traveled from between to town it was trees and road and road and trees then trees and road. People often complain that when they travel through the midwest during summer it is mile after mile of corn and beans. One of the followers of this blog even mentioned the scenery was not as diverse as my cross country trip. I fully agree. It is what it is! The highlight of the trip was a stop at what is referred to as the smallest church in America. See above pic. Tomorrow we head bac to the ATLANTIC coast as we head into Florida and cross out 13th state line.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forsyth park-one of the 22 "squares" in Savannah
Example of Spanish moss on many trees in Savannah
Statue of Layfayette in square
British cannon from the Battle of Savannah
Bonadventure cemetery-soldiers of foreign war section
Unique head stone-I assume the deceased like to play piano
John the Baptist church-First Catholic church in Georgia after Oglethorpe (colonial founder) banned CAtholics when the colony was first established.
Now that's one big pumpkin
Savannah nightlife
Day 22
Total distance to date-Portland Maine to Savannah Georgia-1,340
Savannah-rest day
Today was our final rest day and we spent most of the time touring Savannah. Many sites to visit and so little time to do so. Pictures tell the story.

I always use rest days to thank those who have contributed to the Central Illinois Alzheimers Assn. Your contributions are appreciated and there is still time to contribute before my ride ends.

Because of the significance of Savannah to the history of the United States, todays shoutout goes to the Social Science department at East Peoria High School: Marty Green, Kevin Collins, Jenni Lamb, Zach Fleming and the rest of the department who arrived after I retired.

Marsha Rae
Central Illinois Alzheimer's Assn.
606 W. Glen
Peoria, Il
note-Champ Walker East Coast Ride

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beginning the day riding with Don(very strong rider) in the rain
Dinner in Savannah with the beautiful Veronica and good friends Carol and Hank
Savannah at night
Day 20
Distance 46 miles
Weather-60-72 degrees rain
wind NNE 15-20 mph
Our ride today takes us into Georgia from Beaufort NC to Savannah GA. A ride of only 46 miles.
Anyone looking for pictures that I usually take during the ride will be disappointed. Here's why. We started out in a steady rain. I don't take pictures when it is raining for obvious reasons. Well, maybe not so obvious. A wet camera gets ruined and stopping for pictures on the road in the rain is very dangerous. So, I will describe a good photo op I missed. As we traveled over a series of bridges (one bridge very dicey) the marshes near Beaufort were very picturesque. Use your imagination! When I say dicey, one particular bridge we had to ride on the sidewalk. It was narrow with a barrier on either side. Plus, the wind was howling from a cross wind direction. One mistake and the rider would either wind up in the river or fall into traffic. In addition, there was a pedestrian with a child in a baby carrier going in the opposite direction so we all came to a complete stop as she passed. Aren't we a courteous bunch? As far as the rain goes, the weather people predicted a 2 inch rainfall in Savannah. For once they were absolutely correct. Our steady rain in the morning turned into a light rain followed by a steady rain followed by a monsoon and just outside Savannah it stopped. Ahh, a nice way to enter Savannah. But, no such luck. After we crossed the bridge that enters Georgia, a steady rain began. When we arrived at out destination we were soaked even though we all wear rain gear.
Now for the good news. For the fourth day in a row we had prevailing tailwinds from the Northeast. On occasion they were gusting to over 20 mph. For myself, and I have stated this before, I really don't mind riding in the rain. Wet is wet and at some point I will get dry. But to have a wind at my back all day is a luxury. I could ride all day in wet weather if I had a tailwind. So there it is. A short ride, wet the entire time but a great wind at our backs.
More good news. Savannah is a rest day and I am really looking forward to visiting the historical sites. I am like a kid in a candy shop. This city has as much history as any on the East Coast. So, I suspect tomorrows blog will be mostly pictures.
Also, most of the people who use this blog site have indicated to me it is hard to for followers to leave comments. For some reason it is even hard for me to add comments so many have sent e-mails.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Staff encouraged me to wear this hat saying I looked pretty. Whadda ya think?
Neat old church between Charleston and Beaufort. Met the paster. His name was Sachmo.

Typical view of today's last 40 miles. Look closely for hanging moss

Description of chuch ruins in prior photo
Day 17
Distance 80 miles
Weather-60-72 degrees
wind NNE 10-15 mph gusting to 20
Today's journey went from Charleston NC to Beaufort. After the first sag the scenery got more interesting. Overhanging trees covered with moss was the fare for most of the second part of the trip. The four lane busy road turned into a two lane with few cars. With the wind at our backs, it was a very nice cruise. Lets hope our good fortune with the wind continues. One of the visual highlights, in addition to the scenic road, was the remains of an old historic church (see pic). I would have stayed and explor he ruins more but when I stopped my bike, the mosquito's began to swarm and treated me like I was the afternoon meal. It was brutal so after a couple of pictures I was off. Another incident made me aware that not all the motorists are in love with bicycles on the roads. Shortly after I photographed the church ruins a truck began to pass. Not thinking about it much, the truck pulled beside me and just as he passed he gunned his engine. It turned out to be a diesel engine and a thick black smoke came from his exhaust pipe that was mounted behind the driver side door extending his cab roof. Ts so black I literally could not see the road. I shouldn't think ill of all the South Carolina red neck hillbillies because of the action of one but maybe so. Anyway, I'm sure he and his buddies had a good laugh. Anyway, all in all a very pleasant day. Tomorrow we ride to Savannah GA. but the weather looks dicey. Lets hope that it passes before we attempt the ride.
Since this is Sunday, I noticed that past Sundays I have taken pictures of churches. So today's SAG stop was in a church parking lot so the tradition continues.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ferris wheel in Myrtle Beach NC
Part of Myrtle Beach
Stars and bars still flying in South Caroling
Hey, 120 miles. Guys got to take a rest
Charleston Bay bridge
Aircraft carrier in bay-photo from peak of bridge
Day 17
Distance 120 miles
Weather 60-76 degrees
wind-NNE 10-15 gusting to 20 mph
The journey from Little River SC to Charleston SC, with detours, was 120 miles. The first 50 were on route 17. Not to disparage the road builders here in South Carolina, but why did you build 4 lane divided highways with no shoulder. With a 60 mph speed limit, knowing cars are going at least 70, it is like driving on interstates with no shoulder. Even disregarding the fact that bikes use this road, what about an auto that might need to stop for an emergency. There is literally no room. And, in fact, when they did have a shoulder it was no bigger than 18 inches wide and they put rumble strips on them. That meant that bicyclists had to ride in the road which is not a good situation for bikers or motorists. The amusing part of this is that there were signs to "share the road" with cyclists. Go figure. After leaving Georgetown the next 50 miles were mile after mile of pine trees. At first they made the biking a very scenic experience. But after the first 30 miles the scenery was getting redundant and one might even suggest BORING.
With a very favorable wind and the fact we were biking 120 miles this made the ride seem like.....................WRONG. It still seemed like 120 miles. Even with or without a wind that is a long way for a bunch of old geezers to bike in one day.
Two major high spots were the ride through Myrtle Beach and crossing the Charleston Bay Bridge. Myrtle Beach upon first observation was a typical resort town. But after a mile or so it became apparent it was somewhat different. In addition to the magnificent hotels, it was obvious there were many entertainment options. In addition to water parks, amusement rides for children as well as adults, and a plethora of restaurants one could just go to the ATLANTIC coast beaches to swim and relax. Some of our group mentioned Myrtle beach is the best beach they have ever been to. I would like to vacation there sometime.
The other highlight of the day was crossing the Charleston Bay Bridge. At over two miles long, it is the longest cable-stay bridge in the Western hemisphere. The climb to the peak was intense as it rises 116 feet above the bay and the wind was swirling. At the top, the view is grand and photo options unlimited. I took many photos including the aircraft carrier Yorktown in addition to Will Smiths yacht. Apparently he is in the area this weekend. Well, that concludes today's adventure so stay tuned for more tomorrow. We travel to historic Beaufort, SC.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our road through North Carolina for the first 50 miles-loved it
South Carolina state line
Giving a barracha
Our riding group, Tom, Chris, Hank, me, Bob and Bill the photographer
Day 15
Distance-109 miles
Weather-55-78 degrees
wind-NNE10-15 mph
Today's blog will be rather short. Our journey from Jacksonville NC to Little River SC was long without much opportunity for pictures. The first 50 miles were through pine forest on a nice paved relative traffic free roads. Then, the last 60 were on a 4 lane, divided highway with a 18 inch shoulder. Oddly enough, there are rumble strips on the 18 inch shoulder leaving no room for bikers. As a result, we had to ride on the road and that is quite an experience. I have ridden interstate highways in the Southwest that I felt far safer than these roads but for the most part, the motorists give us plenty of room. However, that was not always the case. A cement truck passed one of our rides so closely that the draft blew the rider into the grass.
Now for the good news. Again, as you can tell, we had a favorable wind all day. That is a real luxury. We averaged, over the last 30 miles, 21 mph and for the day averaged 18 mph. Now for all you Lance Armstrong types, that may not seem very fast but, for a bunch of old geezers, it's not bad. The group I ride with are in no hurry to get to our day's destination so me make stops every 20 miles of so to "take care of business". Tomorrow we ride 117 miles so that should prove to be very interesting. Enough for now.