Milton, FL to Range, AL
Total Miles: 2325
I woke up this morning and it was cold and it took a lot of willpower to heave myself out of my sleeping bag. Now the actual temperature was only like 60 but after the last month of Florida heat it felt like the freaking arctic to me. I loaded up my bike as quickly as possible so I could get moving and get the blood flowing. As I’m heading out of the camp one of the employees waves me down and asks if I’m going to have some of their free breakfast before I leave. Say what? Free food? Ummm yes, I’ll take 3 please. It wasn’t the most elaborate spread but it was free and I ate like 6 frozen waffles so I can’t really complain.
About 10 miles into the day I passed a bike shop and decided to stop in to see if they had any sweatbands. I lost my good one when I first got into Florida and have been using my shitty backup one ever since, it gets the job done but only barely. I ask the owner if they have any and to my utter delight they had one left and it was the same exact one that I’d lost but this time in cherry red! It may not seem like a huge deal but let me tell you, a good quality sweatband is absolutely essential in this heat. Especially for me as I sweat like a whore in church.
The next 20 miles or so were absolutely fantastic! I’m finally away from all the flat boring roads of the Florida coastline and into the hills with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns in the road. The weather was perfect, cool but with lots of sunshine and only a mildly annoying headwind. I really, really needed a morning like this to keep me motivated. I stopped in at a gas station and got an early lunch of chicken, jojo’s and about a gallon of ranch to dunk it all in. Yummy yummy in my tummy. I called ahead to the campsite I had planned on staying at tonight to make sure there was a tent site available. The owner, Ronnie, told me there was and said it was $20 a night, a little steeper than I wanted but nothing I can do. About 3 minutes later Ronnie calls back and says, “You said you’re using a tent. I thought you wanted an RV site. A tent is only $15.” Sweeettt!! I told him I’d be there later in the afternoon since I was coming in on my bicycle. Another 3 minutes go by and he calls me again. He says, “You’re coming in on a bike? Well if you don’t have a car then that’s only $10.” I couldn’t believe my luck, this guy was just haggling with himself but far be it from me to look a gift Turtle in the Shell.
The wind started to pick up after my chicken stop, so much so that even on the descents I had to pedal pretty hard to keep an even pace. Not ideal but a windy day in a beautiful forest sure beats the soul crushing wind on a straight road next to the ocean. About 5 miles into this I finally, finally reach the milestone I’d been waiting for. NEW STATE!!! Like his namesake my trusty stead, Forrest, is going to cross the great state of Alabama! After so much time in Florida it felt so incredible to finally see this real, tangible evidence that I’m making progress. Seeing my mileage tick ever so slowly upwards is one thing, but to actually have this sign right in front of me was a huge boost of confidence. But the true reality is: Alabama sucks. At least the highways. I’m right back to having those blasted rumble strips taking up the entire shoulder lane and with all these logging trucks blowing past me it got a little dicey today. I never felt like I was truly in danger but 40 tons of angry steel roaring by 5 feet to your left is still pretty scary.
I pulled into a gas station a few miles away from my destination to get some food and a beer. While I was eating I noticed a couple fellas looking over my way. One of them yells over to me, “Hey did you get dropped off or something?” I figured he was asking if someone dropped me off here from the freeway a few hundred yards away. I told him no, that I’d come up highway 41 from Brewton. He said,”Yeah, I saw you riding. How the hell did you get here so fast? I thought someone gave you a ride!” I honestly wasn’t going fast at all today but I guess people look a the load on my bike and assume you can only do a walking pace 🙂 Not James and Forrest, we’re fucking champions.
I got to my camp, it’s like a perfectly manicured park hidden in the middle of the forest, get my tent set up and hit the shower. My body is sore from the days exertions but I feel extremely content and tomorrow’s another day of adventure. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!