What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
It’s been a few days since the last blog, so this may turn into a fairly long post – sorry! (But it does involve alligators so all’s good). No interview video in this one and only phone snaps unfortunately but there’ll be plenty more video and photos soon.
Day 22 & 23 – Charleston (commuting miles – not many)
Charleston – it’s a cracking little place. Decided to stay longer than planned for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s ace and a day isn’t enough, and 2) I have an inflammed 5th metatarsal – yep. (Thanks to pals at The Body Rehab for the new lingo and the help!). Apparently this is fairly common when wearing cycling shoes for sustained periods, and can be remedied by standing on a golf ball and scrunching the underside of your foot.
Back to Charleston. There’s plenty to see and do, and it’s very accommodating to cyclists. There’s a lot of ’em wheeling about. All very welcoming, too. One of the downsides to this nomad-like style of living is being too focused on the travelling and missing stuff, so it was enjoyable to stay somewhere long enough to see the difference between night and day, literally. After walking over the bridge in the dark in the last post, I cycled over it a couple of times over these two days. And with an un-loaded bike. Holy smokes – what a difference a lightweight bike makes. You get used to a weighted bike and carrying a load, and then when you remove the weight, it’s feels like NASA’s new rocket. Twitchy and bizarre. Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge life on a weekend is thriving – there’s Marty McFly’s being pulled along on skateboards by dogs, about a million runners and ample cyclists out to get some fresh air.
To sum up the two days, it was typical-tourist really, exploring & chatting to / getting showed around by the locals (Whaddup’ Gabby, Bryan et al!). Good times which involved eating an incredibly unhealthy amount of chicken – always a bonus. I really recommend visiting Charleston if you get chance. Here’s three phone snaps for good measure – bikes, arty and sights:
Day 24 – Charleston – St John’s, SC (31 miles)
After a couple of days of not much cycling and chicken to act as fuel, it was time to head on, with another new state line within a couple of days riding distance. Those little dotted lines provide a boost of motivation.
This project’s now involved over three weeks of cycling, and the tyres on the bike seemed to be a little softer and riding felt more sluggish, so being in Charleston, a cycling hub, what better place to visit a local bike shop and borrow a track pump. Using Affordabike’s pump, I put some air in the front tyre. And then… PSSSSSSSS. Oops, too much. Split inner tube. It was always going to happen, so was good to get puncture #1 out of the way on a stunning day, rather than in the depths of a snowstorm.
After a quick fix the bike was running smoothly again, with much less rolling resitance – although there’s a chance that’s just a placebo effect. After cycling out of the city – the most hassle-free leaving-a-city-on-a-bike process so far – I was soon on the Savannah Highway. By this point it was getting on for 3ish, but I was keen on getting plenty more miles in, so ploughed on for a couple more hours.
As the sun was dropping, and the light was awesome, there was a couple of drivers who screamed past really close. All my lights were on, it couldn’t have been clearer that there was a cyclist on the road. You can be a safe as you like but an unattentive driver is just that. Then there was a sign… No literally, a sign that told of a State Park. I couldn’t hack cycling on a shoulder-less road after those close calls so took the sign as a ‘sign’ and got off that damn Highway, ending up camping behind the St John’s Fire Department just a mile-or-so off the road. It’s quite enjoyable stealth camping with prior approval (thanks St John’s!). Means you can use a headtorch and see what you’re doing which is novel.
The morning after:
Day 25 – St John’s – Hardeeville, SC (68 miles)
Early start and an opportunity to get some early miles in to avoid a similar situation to yesterday evening. The same road that caused frustration mere hours ago, now almost totally quiet, cars travelling by few and far between, the drivers usually decent enough to offer a full lane passing distance.
It’s hot, and it’s the first time on the trip experiencing salt sweats. Not pretty – maybe it’s the Charleston chicken. Imagine a salty waterfall riding a bike and it’d be a close fit. Eventually the route went through Beaufort, where there’s a big US Marine Corps Air Field. On the way there’d been several low flying F-18’s, performing crazy manoeuvres in sets of three, so that explains it.
I ended up in Hardeeville at around 10pm after a great night ride, with quiet roads and wide shoulders. It needed to be a fairly big day to time the next day, and ‘Alligator Alley’ up right. “Son you don’t wanna ride through there after dark – you’ll miss it”.
Day 26 – Hardeeville, SC – Savannah, GA (22 miles)
I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, for a few reasons. Savannah’s been recommended several times, the route involves cycling through Alligator Alley and it means reaching a new state – Georgia. Visible progress on the map which is encouraging.
(Click on image to open full panorama)
Shortly after leaving Hardeeville, was a turn off onto the infamous ‘Alligator Alley’, which cuts right through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, and is so called because from March – October, there’s loads of Alligators hanging out. In December, they’re usually only seen on hot days, like today, c’mon! It’s a short-ish ride, of around 6 miles, through swamp and forest, prime location for wildlife such as deer, wild hogs, a bunch of birds including eagles, and more.
I cycled ridiculously slowly keeping an eye on the water and banks around, hoping to catch a glimpse of a ‘gator. And after travelling about 3 miles, there it was in the creek. Excuse this description, but – so rad. There is an alligator in this photo if you look closely (bear in mind the photo is named ‘crap_alligator_photo’). Couldn’t get closer and travelling light means not carrying a telephoto lens and maxing out the zoom on my phone. But anyway there it was, probably only around 5ft long but an alligator nonetheless. Alligator Alley delivered!
Soon after, crossing the State Line into Georgia, it was a simple and generally flat few miles into Savannah. The next post will be about time spent in Savannah. Here’s a bridge into Savannah and a rough route from Charleston. Looking forward to continuing down the coast to near Brunswick in the next couple of days.