Mt Pleasant, SC to Cottagevill, SC
Today started like the last few days with me waking up at 630, packing up camp and eating an apple for breakfast. As I was heading out my front tire was making this really annoying, high pitched rubbing sound every time I hit the smallest bump. I stopped to investigate and at first thought it was my fenders coming loose but looking a bit closer I saw that the locking mechanism for my front wasn’t tightened down and the only thing holding it on there was the weight of my gear. Glad I caught it in time or else it may have ended up pretty badly for James and Forrest.
The first ten miles or so I was riding on a main thoroughfare through the outskirts of Charleston, SC. During morning traffic. Normally this would scare me but the drivers are extremely considerate around here to cyclists. Plus, with all of the traffic zooming past me at 55 I was sucked into their swirling vortex of forward momentum. Like I’ve said before my bags make me like a kite in the wind but riding with the flow of traffic was working in my favor to an epic degree, an easy 22 MPH. But like all good things, it came to an end when I reached the bridge I was supposed to cross.
I’m zooming along towards the bridge when I see an big ol’ sign that says “No Pedestrians. No Bicycles” (Side not, the word pedestrian kind of sounds like some strange, alien race. Hello, I’m Chernkiak from the planet Pedestria) So I come to a stop and pull out my phone to figure out wtf. As I’m sitting there Google Mapsing how the heck to get across this guy pulls up behind me, rolls down his window and tells me there’s a bike path across the bridge over that way. Cue broad sweeping gesture somewhere to the north of me. I thank him and turn around to go find this mysterious bike path. It only took about 3 wrong turns and 2 dead ends before I finally find it. And man, oh man, was it steep. I fully realize that I’m using the word steep to describe a relatively short climb up a bridge and that when I get to Hoosier Pass, the highest point on my route, I’ll be wishing it was only like this bridge. But still, it was steep. So, after what seemed like forever of me pedaling myself up this gnarly bridge I finally reach the peak and can cruise down the other side at a quicker pace. On the way down my body tells me that it really needs a Sausage McMuffin. Pronto.
I rest up a bit at Mickey D’s and check my map. From there out I’ll be following the same road, Highway 61, all the way to my destination. Easy stuff. Or was it? You see I’ve found that in South Carolina the people that design and build the roads don’t give one flying f!@# about cyclist. When there is a shoulder, and it’s pretty rare, they always have to have those rumble strips cover half of it. Very irritating, both for me and the line of cars that inevitably pile up behind my. I try to be a considerate person and pull off to the side, when I can safely do so, to let the gas guzzling hoard pass but it get’s really exhausting, really fast when you’re stopping and starting a billion times. My bike is kind of like a semi-truck, it takes a lot of juice to get it going but once it does it’s relatively simple to just keep on trucking.
I’m cruising along this treacherous nightmare trying not to get smushed when I finally catch a break. The sky opens up, angels sing and a single shaft of glittering sunlight falls from the heavens and illuminates a sign that says “Ashley River Bicycle Trail”. Praise be the One True Turtle, may His swamp never be dry. The trail was great and lasted about 5 miles and when I got off the road conditions were a bit better. Not great, mind you, but still better. At this point my water bottles are running a bit low so I pull up to the next church I see to top em’ off. The Reverend Williams was positively overjoyed to be able to help a traveller in need of succor. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I imagine that I’ll be saying it for the next 5 months but these local churches have been one of the best things about my trip. There is always someone there to help me out when I need it.
So after I get some water I have about 15 miles to go, but my gas tank is running on empty. I stop into the next place I see, a new housing project called Summer’s Corner that had a small visitors center/cafe. It was an extremely strange experience. The whole place looked like someone’s perfect image of what a neighborhood should be. They had beautiful tree lined streets with beautiful, brand new houses on them that they were demoing for would be buyers. It was very Stepford Wives-esque. The creepy automatons running the cafe we’re friendly but everything they said sounded extremely scripted. I ordered a grilled cheese with jam (which was delicious) and asked where the nearest grocery store was. She pointed to a field across the street and said that this is where the residents will eat, shop and find entertainment. Ummmm, ok. Not really helpful. But at least robots can prepare a delicious sandwich.
I finish the remaining miles, but I was struggling, probably due to all of the stop and go earlier but I made it! The campground is beautiful and has showers, really what more could I ask for. Now it’s time to relax, plan tomorrow’s route and read a book. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!