I really don’t want to jinx myself butttttt…everyone else had a flat today. I doubt it was anything special I did to avoid a flat. We all methodically check both tires after each break. I did pick off a half dozen burrs from my front tire at one point today.
The ride was pretty flat and partially aided by a tail wind. We averaged over 15 mph for the day, our fastest yet. Total mileage today was 76.2. Very pleasant riding with the exception of Lake City. It was much busier traffic wise than we are used to. I10 and I75 intersect in this town which probably explains the increase in traffic and US 90 was undergoing some construction. In retrospect, I wish we had picked a different route to bypass Lake City.
We spent some time at dinner thinking about our next adventure. Lots of suggestions: Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Diego, bike across PA from Erie to Philly, C&O canal from Pittsburgh to DC and Potomac River from Alexandria to the Chesapeake and back. Someone threw out Ireland but I nixed that since that is where I am taking Marcia for our anniversary next year. I doubt she would enjoy a Brothers Bike Ride for our anniversary.
Our accommodations tonight is a very nice B&B a few blocks from the downtown district of this little town. We spent our cold beer wind down doing bike maintenance in an outside garden area. We walked to a bike store to replenish tubes and a new tire for Mark. Dinner was a short walk back to ‘downtown’ which featured outdoor dining and live country music. Even though it is only 8 o’clock, I am ready for bed. I can feel my body demanding as much sleep as possible for these full days on the bike. My nightly call to Marcia is next and then ‘lights out’ for me.
What a gorgeous day. Some things do average out. Last year’s leg the weather was cold and rainy. This year’s leg, the weather couldn’t be more perfect. Smooth roads; bike lanes/shoulders most of the time. What a difference a year makes.
This part of Florida has counties named after southern statesmen like Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Calhoun to name a few. We stopped for a break in the county seat of Jefferson County which was called, what else, Monticello. Pretty little town that seemed as though time passed it by. The scenery has been pleasant with a lot more hills than anyone expected. The terrain did seem to flatten out after we got into Madison County. This part of Florida definitely has a southern feel to it.
Matt and I paired off and Brian and Mark paired off for a good part of the day. Each group had plenty to talk about. At one point, Mark and Brian pulled up to us and Brian was giving an answer to the trivia game they were playing. When we asked what Brian was talking about, Mark explained the game they were playing but added it was “their game and we couldn’t play”.
It is somewhat bittersweet to think we only have three more days of riding to complete the ‘Southern Tier’. Of course, this has been a trip of a lifetime and quite an accomplishment. We have had so many laughs and shared experiences. I love our routine of arriving at our destination for the night, putting the bikes in our rooms and meeting in Beth’s room for a cold beer and some conversation about the high and the low of the day. It is hard to do it justice in this blog. I’ll think more about that for tomorrow’s blog.
We have a lot of miles to cover in 8 days so we have some long days on the bike, including 2 ninety mile days. Today was 93 miles. Days like this require a certain amount of mental toughness to get thru it. We spent many hours playing trivia with each other. Who was the first President to die in office? How many states have only 4 letters in their names? (If you guessed Mississippi, you got one of them).
We stuck together in a pack all day which helped each of us tough it out. I must say, towards the end of the ride there waan’t much conversation, but having my brothers there for every pedal stroke really helped. Beth, you came upon us at the right time for replenishment and to carry all the clothes we had shed as the day warmed up. Hooray for SAG lady and the cold beer awaiting us in your room.
Probably one of my shortest posts ever. Need to get as much sleep as I can. Tomorrow is not as long and Matt joins us tomorrow night.
Brian decided not to ride today. He wanted to rest up and try to kick his illness once and for all. Good move – I hope it works. The plan is for him to ride tomorrow, even though it is scheduled to be a 92 mile day which is one of our longest. He did go see an aviation museum in Pensacola with his off day. Looking forward to seeing his pictures.
Mark and I had a delightful day on our bikes. Some of the more noteworthy sites: Passed a section east of Pensacola where a tornado came thru earlier this week and totally destroyed 4 houses, partially damaged others and didn’t touch still others 50 yards away. I’ve only seen that sort of randomness on news cast. We stopped to view these houses first hand. At one point a few yards down the road, there was a whole section of roof up in a tree about 20 feet off the ground. Rode a bike path with a group of Wounded Warriers, some of whom were paraplegics. Very sobering but inspirational to see them trying to lead as normal a life as possible. They seemed very intent, not conversationalists. I get it and commend them for what they sacrificed. And hilly terrain today which was predicted in ‘Conquering the Borderlands’. Never used my granny gears but had to gear down to a climbing gear with many of the hills.
Hopefully the weather stays this nice for the rest of L6. Another sunny day predicted tomorrow. Temps in the upper 30’s when we start out and climbing into the upper 60’s later in the day, which will be the warmest so far. Great riding weather!
Well,we are starting L6, our final leg. I am expecting the weather to be magnificent with no rain, no headwinds and most importantly NO DOGS CHASING US. Yeah right – all those things are about to happen!
I have been reminiscing about earlier legs for a few weeks. I will see something and it will trigger a flashback. I saw a pile of snow and it reminded me of Pine Valley, CA or pouring down rain and the day we spent in St. Francisville, LA. We have had so many memories on these bike trips. I am truly blessed to be able to do something like this with my brothers and Sag Lady. (That be you Beth.)
The thought that kept rolling thru my mind today was we have ridden about 2500 miles so far and today’s scenery was like nothing else we have seen. No mountains or hills, just flat roads. No cultivated fields or livestock grazing. And certainly no deserts; quite the contrary, lots of water, starting with another first for the trip., a 45 minute ferry ride.
The Gulf of Mexico was off to our right and in full view a good part of the day. We ate lunch at a state park looking out over white sand beaches and blue water as far as the eye could see. It reminded me of riding between Ocean City and Sea Isle except for the mid rise condo buildings from time to time.
Pensacola seems clean and tidy. We are staying in the old part of the city in a newer chain hotel. I think tomorrow the scenery will change since we head inland and return to our old buddy–Route 90. I wonder how many miles altogether we have ridden on Route 90. Any guesses guys?
It was our coldest leg yet. With the exception of one day, I left every morning wearing every layer I brought and some days, kept them on all day.
And our most miles by far of any previous leg. Brian and I planned it that way. I am anxious to click this ‘DONE’ on my bucket list. I don’t want something to happen to me, healthwise, that prevents me fom finishing this adventure.
Adventure Cycling maps had a warning about loose dogs in Louisiana. We encountered none. East Texas and Mississippi were another story. I will never understand why people leave their dogs loose and go off to work all day. The houses/trailers where the dogs charged/chased us, noone ever came out and called their dogs off.
Mississippi has hills, steep ones. I had to use my granny gear on several occasions. Never expected that after East Texas and Louisiana were flat.
Mark observed that every few miles you pass a church, mostly Baptist. Back home, you pass a bank and a drug store every few miles. I am not sure what the significance is.
Having my son Matt join us for the second half of L5 was such a blessing. He set the pace, planned the last day’s route into Mobile, pulled the draft line when we encountered stiff headwinds, and, most of all, knew what to do when Brian started breaking spokes. I don’t know what we would have done without you. I hope you can join us for L6. What do you think Steph?
No FINAL THOUGHTS would be complete without a shoutout for the “Sag Lady”. Another great job by Beth. Even tho you couldn’t post as much because of your work load, your constant attention to our needs was much appreciated. Hopefully we don’t encounter any ‘dry counties’ in Florida. I know you were more flustered that the bikers. Again, “Great Job”.
A cold start to a sunny day with the wind either at our backs or a cross wind. Got chased by dogs one last time in Mississippi, a fitting end to our time in that state. It continued to be hilly until we entered Alabama. No dogs chased us after we entered Alabama. Riding into Mobile turned out to be relatively easy. We are staying at a nice hotel in the historic district near the Mobile River.
I’ve never been to New Orleans but Mark and Brian both said it has the same type of feel but much more drivable. Since our ride today was only 47 miles we had plenty of time to do some sight seeing. Matt and I enjoyed the Museum of Mobile which traces its histiry since it was founded around 1703 by the French. It was later a Spanish colony, and a British colony until after the Revolutionary War. Of course, there is a lot of Civil War history and how badly it suffered during Reconstruction. Alot of the museum was devoted to the struggle for racial equality.
Well the bikes are all packed and we all have 6am flights from the Mobile Airport that we passed on the ride into the city. Can’t wait for that 4am wake up call. Total mileage for this leg was 638.
Truthfully, it just worked out that way. There wasn’t a safe road heading east, so we took to the back roads which headed southeast. The wind was out of the north so we had tail winds today from time to time.
The weather definitely changed during the night. Compared to yesterday’s morning temps in the 70’s when we started, today was 46, with temps falling into the 30’s (wind chill wise) when the ride finished. A longer day than expected, partly because we had to wait out the rain 3 miles into the ride, at a Hardees fast food place, for about 45 minutes. The people were very friendly, with lots of questions and concerns.
I have no idea why but the main roads in Mississippi have no paved shoulders. Our strategy to stick to the main roads to shorten the distance and avoid unchained and unfenced dogs went out the window today. The ride was longer than we wanted and we got chased by dogs. I’m sure someone else will recount a few of the more memorable dog episodes of the day. For some reason, I was never the primary target which was okay with me.
This is our last night in Mississippi. Tomorrow is our last day of riding and we enter Alabama, our seventh state and another one I’ve never visited. In honor of Mississippi, I ordered fried catfish for dinner tonight. Can;t say I’ll order it again. Done that.
We left the motel in short sleeve shirts, that’s how warm it was at 8am. And it got warmer as the day went on. By the end of the day, temps were in the 80’s. We finally got a huge influx of vitamin D and all of us got a little sunburn. It feels good after the winter we’ve been having back home. Speaking of which, I do feel bad Marcia’s been dealing with alot of winter wheather while I’ve been away. And there is more on the way, we hear.
We crossed the border into Mississippi and were surprized by no shoulders on main roads. Shifted back to Adventure Cycling maps after about four miles. It would have been impossible to stay on Rt. 26 with no shoulder, rumble strips on the white line and logging trucks every few minutes. One good thing about loaded logging trucks passing is you get a wiff of Christmas every time they pass you in the same direction.
Our accomodations were a couple of cabins at the edge of some woods, a little miles north of Poplarville, MS. Mark cooked a great pasta dinner following directions/recipe provided by Holly. Our entertainment was a herd of cows that were being herded by a four wheel ATV. Two of them kept inching their way over to the porch of our cabin to check us out. They stared at us, moved a few steps closer, stared some more, moved a few steps closer and stared some more. After about twenty minutes, they lost interest and moved on. If they had come all the way up to the fence, which was only 15 feet from the porch we were sitting on, today’s blogs would be filled with a couple of cow snouts. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
My biggest surprize concerning Mississippi, it is HILLY. Totally unexpected after flat east Texas and flat Louisiana. Whenever I have to spell Mississippi, I remember taking the kids on the ferry back from lower Manhatten to Staten Island. We were surrounded by standing businessmen totally engrossed in reading their Wall Street Journals. Mike was maybe 6 years old and he kept spelling M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-PP to Mary and saying “Get it Mary, PP, get it Mary”. It was hilarious with all these businessmen seemingly oblivious to these little kids yucking it up with potty humor. I guess you had to be there.
What a great day for cycling!!! The owner of the B&B gave us a send off, apologizing for Monday’s rain, as we started on the day’s ride. It was a foggy start but soon burned off. We were peeling layers at our first couple rest stops. Matt quickly got the hang of our riding schedule, we stop every ten to fifteen miles for a little break to take care of nature calls and eat and drink to stay fueled up. There is absolutely no concern about the intake of too many calories.
Don’t ask me why, but the singing bug got into us. We were each belting out songs, usually only one verse or so because that is about all we can remember of the lyrics. Mile after mile, we were singing away, usually with more than one joining in when we could figure out what the song was. We weren’t always in tune so sometimes it took a little longer than others, Brian. Oops I swore I wasn’t going to name names.
I saw my first couple historical markers in Jackson, LA. That’s a huge difference from Texas where there seems to be a historical marker every five miles or so. Maybe LA isn’t as proud of their history as Texans are. The marker I read described a revolution for independence (the second on American soil) where the local Anglo Saxon settlers revolted against the Spanish government and captured the local governor. They were an independant government, called the “Independant Free State of West Florida” for about 75 days. American troops arrived and they were annexed to the US, which is probably what they wanted all along.
By the end of the ride, we were all in shorts and short sleeve biking shirts for the first time this leg. Temps were in the 70’s. After hot showers to get the road grit off our legs from the early morning fog, we were ready for dinner and mapping out tomorrow’s route. Beth picked up some Breath Right so we’ll see if Matt can get some sleep tonight.