Houston, MS to Grenada, MS
Total Miles: 2670
Last night after I scoured myself looking for any hidden ticks I laid down in my tent to get some reading done. Not even 5 minutes later I feel this creepy, crawly sensation on my foot and look down to see a tiny little tick walking up ankle looking for a good spot to have dinner. Not today mother fucker. SQUISH! I continue my reading only to feel something crawling on me again but this time on my thigh. I decide enough is enough, my tent is supposed to be my little sanctuary where I can feel secure in the fact that i’m safe from all the little bugs that inhabit the forest. I hop out of my tent, strip naked, turn on my headlamp and thoroughly check myself and the clothes I’m wearing (I’m the only one here and I was in a pretty secluded spot. It’s not like I’m some weird nudist 😉 After I’m sure that my body is free of the vermin I check every item in my tent one by one and then the tent itself. I found one more crawling around on my sleeping bag, so I didn’t feel too crazy that I did all that work. I laid down to go to sleep after that but I kept feeling all these little itches. You know like when you were in school and someone got lice so your head would immediately start to itch? It was like that. I eventually got to sleep though and all was right with the world. Or was it?
It was, but there’s nothing like a little ominous foreshadowing to add a little kick to the story, eh? I woke up this morning at 6:30 and I guess I overexerted myself a bit yesterday with all that rocket sauce because I was not feeling like riding. Like at all. If it wasn’t for the fact that this place is ground-zero for the Tick Uprising I probably would have just slept in and stayed another day. Such is life, though. I pedaled about 5 miles into the closest town and decided to do a little grocery shopping. Then get breakfast. Then stop and get an energy drink. Literally anything I could think of to put off riding. By about 9 I figured I either needed to get a job, buy a house and put down roots in Houston, MS or just get my ass moving. I chose the latter, but only because that town kind of sucked. I left my almost new home and once I got about 15 miles in I inevitably fell into the groove and started mentally berating myself for being such a wuss. It’s always like this, though, getting started is the hard part but once I get going it’s easy. OR IS IT?!?!
After about 20 miles I stopped in at a gas station to refill and refuel as the almighty Google told me that there were no more service stops for another 30 miles. I grabbed an extra bottle of water to put in my packs as a just in case and set out. The morning was perfect, blue skies, warm but not too hot, the wind was light and variable and the semis whizzing past were only mildly psychotic. After another 15 miles I pulled onto a side road to take a little break in the shade. As I rolled to a stop a tried to twist my left foot out of it’s clip only to find that it was stuck. I avoided toppling over by only the tiniest of margins, like I threw my body to my right so hard that I almost fell over the other way. I’m sure it would have been pretty comical to watch. I sat there for a good 15 minutes trying to get my shoes unclipped but was having no success, just cursing, sweating and generally feeling like an idiot. I was saved by the humble mailman. He pulled up and asked if I needed help and once I explained what had happened he pulled a huge toolbag out of the back of his truck and got me fixed up real quick. It was such a lucky break for me, he said I could sit on that side road all day and not see a car for hours. Mailman – 1 Shoe – 0
5 miles from my little shoe fiasco I come upon a little run down mini-mart that google had failed to mention so I popped in for an orange juice and a giant pickle. It’s the little things in life that keep you sane. I pedal on and get about 3 miles from my destination and have to turn off the main road and head up this twisty, old forest road. And I do mean head UP. It should be fucking illegal how steep this road was, I was huffing, puffing, cursing, sweating and just generally being miserable. I almost got to the top before I had to actually get off my bike and push it, yes, PUSH IT. It was that steep. The only good part was the wicked descent on the other side, it was scary how quick I picked up momentum but pretty awesome at the same time. Whenever I get going that fast I can’t help but think what would happen if my wheel just came off, or if I hit some pothole and go careening off the side of the road. It didn’t happen, of course but it still freaks me out a bit. I’m sure my breaks were smoking hot after that.
Once I arrived at the main office I sat outside for a bit to cool off and relax after that craziness. I went inside and asked the woman for a tent campsite for the evening, she told me to go over to the campground, pick a spot and come back. This pretty usual but I’m not picky so I just told her to give me one next to the restrooms. She kind of gave me a weird look and then told me that I must be thinking of the other campground, the one over by the spillway. Say what? I asked her how to get there and she was all like, “Oh, it’s really easy! Just go back the way you came and when you get to the main road just go another 3 miles until you see the signs.” It was the most devastating thing ever. All I could really do was just laugh at my stupid self and get to it. It wasn’t quite as bad going back, I mean I still had to push my bike near the top but I survived. I made it to my real campground feeling tired, sore but still in good spirits. I think a rest day is in order soon. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!