Day 341: Sharing this Road
So long time, no update.
Sometimes plans become quite circuitous and silence is not a void, but a time of transition.
[blah blah blah metaphysical stuff goes here]
I’ve moved my bicycle adventures over to www.sharethisroad.com
The new location is a joint venture with my partner, Esme, as we join forces to continue to bike SOUTH to Patagonia …
We’re leaving October 7th, 2016 from Sabula, Iowa and our first milestone on the road will be reaching St. Louis in a week or so.
So, jump on over to Share This Road and follow the adventures. We’ve also got a facebook page up here: www.facebook.com/sharethisroad
Second line in Mid-City
Day 70: taking it easy in the Big Easy
Day 55: Christmas eve
Day 53: getting ready for Christmas
Day 47: Another day in the Big Easy…
I’m sitting in a coffee shop catching up on some work and next to me is a man in scrubs and a couple of girls in school uniforms. Next to them is a blonde haired woman old enough to be my grandmother sitting alone in a leather chair wearing royal blue eye shadow, a bright pink feather boa, and revealing fishnet stockings colored to match her flamboyant fashion accessory.
Nobody seems out of place and nothing feels out of order. So, New Orleans rocks, if you didn’t know…
It feels like this city has a high number of happy and friendly people who are courteous and giving, as well as productive. People flow around this city seeming like their motions are effortless and the general culture here is very thick with a deeply laid back attitude.
So laid back, in fact, that on top of being able to buy a beer or wine at the corner store and walk down the street enjoying your beverage of choice that they allow outsiders to drink themselves stupid in one of the city’s most historic and beautiful neighborhoods whether it’s 6am or 6pm… year ’round, any day of the week.
This has been the most bike friendly city I’ve experienced since Minneapolis. Bikes everywhere — I’d say for every half dozen cars I see, there’s a cyclist pedaling along. No hills in the city would make cruising around easy if it wasn’t for popular routes filled with broken pavement. There are plenty of alternatives, so it’s been easy to route around the rough patches.
Something I’ve found and confirmed with other people is that GPS doesn’t reliably work here. I wonder if it has something to do with the half the city being under sea level… not sure. I googled around about it, but didn’t find much information about the phenomenon. I personally seen three people, myself included, who’s phones point them in the wrong direction often and won’t orient properly.
The local “formal” greeting is “How y’all doin’?” It’s shortened to something else, but I don’t recall it off the top of my head (I might have been drinking when I was informed of the informal greeting.) The appropriate response is not “Good” or “Great,” but rather “A’right.” I started my first few days saying Good Morning to people, but soon learned that “How y’all doin’?” receives a much higher frequency of response.
Weather is great — 60-75F during the day, 40s and 50s at night.
Unfortunately I haven’t escaped Christmas Music… it’s here. Walking around in shorts and seeing holiday lights and decorations without the cold weather and snow took a few days to sink in.
Feral cats roam the streets, sidewalks, alleyways, and just about everywhere else… I have yet to see a mouse or a rat.
This city feels like a soft plush couch. You can spend the day just drifting and don’t even feel bad about it…
Total Miles… 1,607.6
So apparently I wandered around a bit… as Google estimated the route to be 1,322 miles. Of course, I’ve learned (frequently) that you should really just ignore what Google suggests for route planning on a bicycle.
I have been relaxing today and just resting and putzing on the computer.
I tallied up the mileage for the trip and it looks like it took me just over 1600 miles of pedaling (not including the couple of lifts I got along the way.)
Not once during the entire trip did I wear a bicycle helmet, nor did a crash the bike. That statement was not made for political reasons for or against, just stating that being aware, observant, and performing routine maintenance are key to safety. Accidents still do happen, and they did, but they helmet didn’t work for or against any of the incidents that occurred.
That gives me a 38.27 mile per day average, if I include days off… if exclude days off, I did 44.65 miles per day!
A little under my 60 mile per day desired average, but the days were short and cold. I wasn’t tired on many of the days, there was just no daylight left.
Day 19: Photo of the Day
Day 31: 50 miles on the shoulder of death
.. Or how I converted to living in the now and accepted that eventually, I too, will die…
I headed out, late, as usual, from Seller, Tennessee and started off on US Highway 45. The shoulder was nice and wide like most US highways.
Once I’d hit the Welcome to Mississippi sign, the shoulder became packed stone set about two inches lower than the main roadway.
No problem, I can work with that…
South of Corenth, Mississippi the packed shoulder tapered off and I was left with anywhere from between six and eighteen inches of space to the right of the white lane line. This was also a space I was forced to share with persistent rumble strips.
Since it’d been another day of all rain I was damp after only a couple hours into the ride. My strategy today was switching out of my boots and into my sandals. That way at least I’d have dry, warm footwear at the end of the day.
After three and a half hours, my pruney feet and soggy socks were number to the first metatarsals. I pulled off the road and was preparing to dig through my bag to change into new dry socks when I looked up and saw a man coming towards me. I stepped back and he held out a bag of snacks and water. He introduced himself as Michael, a fellow Cyclist, from the Booneville area. He offered me the food and water and I thanked him. He also offered a ride and advice about local routes. We chatted for about twenty minutes about the local cycling, Michael’s employment at the Caterpillar plant as an engineer, and just general South North things. He was incredibly helpful and generous. Thank you again, Michael!
I’ve got a few minutes of shoulder of death footage on the GoPro to share at a later date when I get WiFi. The most dangerous part occurred between Saltillo and Tupelo because not only did I have about eight inches to work with, but the traffic increased at least three fold.
You can browse what the road looked like using Google Street view…
Imagine riding that “shoulder” for over four hours today. I don’t have to imagine it because I did it. Insanity. Based on my anecdotal evidence from today, I believe the majority of Northeastern Mississippi drivers also have no regard for cyclists. Routinely the left lane was completely open and still cars would pass me in the right lane at over seventy miles an hour… All day. I got used to the cars, but the semis were always a surprise.
After it had gotten dark, the shoulder hadn’t improved, and the traffic had become constant, I finally gave in to the weariness of trying to focus on staying between the divots in the asphalt and the edge of the paved surface. I pulled off the road and checked my map. I saw that I’d just passed the Natchez parkway which was supposed to be the highway to heaven for cyclists. So I proceeded to look for a way to reach the overpass to the Natchez. The ditches were soft and flooded with water due to the three inches of rain the area had received in the last twenty four hours. I discovered a break in the fence that separates the road right of way and an empty field near the Natchez, so I pushed my bike through the brush and into the field. I immediately found the field was even more saturated with rain than the ditch, so I abandoned the bike and scouted the tree line on the far side of the field on foot. Unfortunately the trees were shrouding a swollen creek, so I abandoned that plan and returned to the bike. Standing the bike up, I discovered that, in the fading daylight, I’d inadvertantly left the bike leaning against a giant mound of dirt that houses thousands of ants. I ignored them and pushed the bike back through the muddy water towards the highway and the Natchez parkway overpass.
When I reached the overpass, I could see a freshly mowed hill through the trees. Unfortunately, I could also see a four foot with multiple runs of barb wire along the top.
I removed my panniers from the bike, tossed them over the fence and then lifted the seventy pound bike halfway over the fence and then tried to push the rear over, but I snagged a pedal in the overgrown vines that enveloped the rusted barbwire.
I stepped on the fence and climbed over and then gave my bike a tug and broke it free from its entanglement.
After pushing the reloaded bike up the embankment, I hopped onto the bike and road to the house of my warmshowers host, Rufus.
I met his dog, Lucky, took a shower, and we went out to eat and grocery shopping. We chatted about life in the South, Tupelo, and each of our life experiences while Rufus made cookies and I repacked the bike.