Jackson, AL to Providence, AL
Total Miles: 2450
I woke up this morning at 6:30 and I really did not want to get out of bed. After yesterdays toils I was not looking forward to another day of the same and I tried every argument I could think of to convince myself to just lay there and sleep in till 11. My legs and body felt like they did way back in the beginning of my journey when I was out of shape and pushing myself way too hard. In a way, though, this is like the beginning. I’ve had nothing but flat roads for 2300 miles and my body had adjusted to it, but now it’s a whole new beast and I’ll just have to suffer through a week of suck before my legs catch up to the new challenge. So with that thought in my head I hauled myself out of bed, packed up my bike, grabbed some of the free breakfast (!!!) and headed out.
The morning was almost-but-not-quite cold and punishingly humid. As always, my shirt was drenched in sweat after the first 15 minutes. I HATE this, it’s like wearing a heavy, wet towel over your shoulders that never dries and just clings uncomfortably to your body. Grrrrr. I hit the next town about 15 miles away where I was gonna stop at the first gas station I saw but decided to keep my momentum going and pedal to the next. The highway was a rollercoaster of ups and downs and more ups but there must have been some kind of rocket sauce in those raisin bran I ate because I was in the fucking zone this morning! Sure climbing hills isn’t the most fun thing in the world but I was killing them. Before I knew it I arrived in the next town about 30 miles from my starting point and headed to Sonic for a gigantic calorie laden second breakfast.
With my belly filled with a shameful amount of fast food goodness I set out again. The nice ladies at Sonic were kind enough to fill all of my water bottles full of crushed ice which worked out perfectly as the clouds broke and the blazing sun came out. It’s such a huge morale boost to have ice cold water on a hot, steamy day and boy was it getting hot. I turned off of the main road upon leaving the town and was riding through the verdant green of the Alabama countryside. The merciless hills continued unabated but I was just so enamored by the sheer beauty of it all that I didn’t even care. I’ve spent the last 2 years in the Middle East where there is barely anything alive and green and then came home to Oregon in the middle of winter where, again, nothing is alive. Riding through this area was just this huge assault on my senses, everything was so GREEN! I don’t know exactly why but all of it just put me in such a good mood, I was laughing at my earlier self just laying there in bed hating his life. How can one not be happy surrounded by all this nature? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Past James is such a dumbass. He really needs to get his shit together :-p
I popped into the next gas station I saw for a quick pickle and to top off my water bottles (which were still half full of ice!) A few miles down the road I round a corner and my ears are assaulted by the sound of a pack of happy little wiener dogs. Seriously there must have been like 8 of them little bastards. Being the cool, calm and totally experienced cyclist that I now am I judged that I didn’t need to ready the ol’ water cannons to fend theses guys off. Let there little stubby legs chase me all they want! So they’re all waiting ahead of me at the edge of their yard barking like mad and only when I pass them do they take chase. It was the cutest thing ever! I was like this slow, lumbering Pied Piper leading my flock to their doom. I reached into my handlebar bag to grab my phone and take a picture when I hear a huge HOOONNNNKK in front of me. Shit. A semi is barreling down the road towards us and these dogs are right in his path. Upon hearing the horn all but one of the dogs breaks off and heads back to their lair but one of them, obviously the rebel of the group, is still following me, and the last thing I need on my conscience is a dead puppy. I yank out my water bottle and fling the entire thing at him, smacking him right in his cute, dumb dog face. He yelps and runs back to his house, defeated but still alive. I think the semi driver must have saw all of this transpire because when he passed he gave me a honk, a wave and deftly steered his big rig right over my water bottle without smashing it. What’s gonna work? TEAMWORK!
I pull into the town of Linden at around 1 and decide to get some food before pedaling the last few miles to my camp. Google pointed me to this tiny little diner at the far edge of town so I pulled up, let myself cool off and stop sweating and went in. I ordered a chicken tender meal thinking it was gonna be that gross, mass produced chicken you get at literally every restaurant, but it was only 7 bucks so I didn’t care. I have never been happier to be completely wrong, this shit was some fresh, locally sourced, hand breaded at the time you order, flavor bomb of a meal. I almost couldn’t finish it all. Almost.. I ain’t no bitch.
I pedal the last few miles to my camp and I gotta say I’m feeling pretty good, definitely not as wrecked as yesterday. My campsite is this tiny, little park with no one else around but it was only 8 bucks and it has water and electricity but no showers. I used a little of my Boy Scout ingenuity, though, and crafted a shower out of my dromedary bag, not great water pressure but enough to get me a clean. Let’s hope tomorrow goes as good as today did. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!