Editors note: I decided to start my day count where I left off. I know I didn’t do that while I took 6 days off in Florida and, as my sister pointed out, I know my day counts aren’t all that accurate anyways. Whatever. Subtract 6, carry the 2, divide by the square root of Pi and get the fuck over it.
Memphis, TN to Jonesboro, AR
Total Miles: 2803
Being a tourist in New York, getting lost on the subway, eating hot dogs at Coney Island, drinking way too much; sun, sand and nude beaches in Miami, snorkeling the Barrier Reef in Key Largo, riding all the rollercoasters at Universal Studios, epicly failing to catch a fish off the pier and, again, drinking way too much. Thanks for the amazing time, love ?. 12 days of awesome came to a bitter end and I found myself back on an airplane heading to Memphis, feeling sad and not at all ready to get back on the road. I know, poor me. Somebody call James a waaambulance. Piss off :-p
I woke up this morning at 5 in order to get an early start on a long day on the bike. The weather was supposed to be rainy but with favorable winds so I decided to put my purse down and go balls to the wall on my first day back. I got Forrest loaded up and headed down to the lobby for some free breakfast, my two favorite words. The news was on in the background while I was eating and I learned that tropical storm Cindy was just making landfall in the Gulf states but, lucky for me, I’m much too far inland to really feel the brunt of it, but I guess it explains the rainy forecast and the north westerly winds I’m counting on today. I finished my cereal and muffin and hit the road.
I was expecting a real struggle when I first got going since I’d been off the bike so long, but, to my surprise, my legs fell right back into their normal rhythm. The traffic was light and courteous going through Memphis, not at all like the royal rumble death match I’d been told about by all of the people I’d met south of here. It was almost anticlimactic, like I’d been led to believe I’d be fighting for my dear life for every mile I gained in the city but it was actually pretty nice. Not at all like the whirling death trap that is Miami. Works for me. I leave Memphis and Tennessee on the Big River Trail which takes me over the mighty Mississippi River and into Arkansas. NEW STATE!!! I think Arkansas might be my favorite state so far, not because of any particularly beautiful scenery or, like, giant magical pickle trees growing everywhere. It’s the roads. Every single road I have been on here, from the smallest country lane to the biggest arterial highway has had an absurdly generous shoulder/bike lane. And I do mean absurd, you could almost ride three abreast on some of them. It was heaven.
About an hour into my new favorite state the weather started to turn, the wind was blowing me along happily but the rain was starting to get to me. It wasn’t just a normal downpour, no, it started with this awful mist of a rain. I can normally wear my sunglasses when it rains to protect my eyes but that god awful mist just turned them into a blindfold of danger and misery. As soon as I’d take them off it’d start raining like normal and then when I put them back on it’d change to a mist. I must have experienced every type of rain there is. Little bitty stinging rain and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. I did about 30 miles in this and decided it was time to stop for a mountain dew and a break. As I was drinking it this haggard looking southern guy comes up to me and says, “You know, you should just find yourself a nice overpass and camp under there because this here rain, it ain’t going nowhere!” Then he let out this mighty southern guffaw and headed to his truck. I wasn’t sure if there was some hidden joke there that I wasn’t privy to but I laughed appropriately and thanked him for his words of wisdom.
I headed back out into the rain, but, much to my chagrin, didn’t find any overpasses to camp underneath of. More’s the pity I suppose. I pedaled along in the now titanic downpour looking for the road I was supposed to turn on but was wildly unsuccessful at locating it. I finally stopped, hunkered over to protect my phone from the rain and found that I’d somehow passed it, Google told me I could take the next one and it only added about a mile so I didn’t bother to turn around. and ride into the wind. I was starting to feel really fucking hungry at this point and was cursing myself for not getting something to eat at the last stop. I pulled over and grabbed a sweet Georgia peach out of my saddle bag and munched it down while checking my map for the next town. It was about 15 miles ahead so I figured the peach would sustain me till then. And it did, for like the first 8 miles when my stomach started clawing at me from the inside demanding I feed it. I ignored it and decided to just push on till I got there, which in hindsight I definitely should not have done. I even saved a fucking turtle but I was too far gone for even the One True Turtle to help. By the time I get to Birdeye, AR I’m wrecked, done, finite, do not pass go do not collect 200 pickles, just bonked out. To top it all off this stupid fucking town doesn’t even have a store of any kind, the only good thing was it seemed like someone had turned off the rain and the sun came out. I pull off to the side of the road to make myself a PB and H. I dug the spoon into the peanut butter jar with the intention of spreading it on my bagel but it was like I’d stumbled upon some strange new atomic force that was pulling my hand towards my mouth. I shoveled like 4 spoonfuls of peanut buttery goodness straight to the dome and washed it down with about a quarter of my bear of honey. Proud? You bet your sweet ass I am.
After my gluttonous feast of peanut butter, honey and an apple I set out to complete the remaining 30 miles of my day. It was rough. Like I couldn’t shake the blerg feeling of no energy despite pumping my body with liquid bear crack. My only saving grace was the tailwind, had it been any different and I had even the the gentlest of headwinds I feel no shame in admitting that I wouldn’t have made it. I’d have just feigned a crash and hope that some passing motorist would scoop Forrest and I up and taken us in. Kidding of course. Kind of. I stopped about 15 miles later and and crushed a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake at Sonic in the hopes that it would give me the energy I needed to make it the rest of the way. It didn’t, just made me feel sick. But when you’re on your own there’s nothing you can really do but press on, and press on I did. I arrived at my camp at around 3, tired beyond belief and sweating like a pig. I parked my bike and proceeded to have a 30 minute nap on the picnic table before getting my camp set up. Today was long and brutal and I probably should have taken it easy on my first day back but, meh, I’m a fucking dumbass but also a badass. It all evens out, right?
The camp host told me tomorrow is supposed to be shitty, windy and nasty all day so I’m gonna play it by ear in the morning as to whether I ride out or wait another day. We’ll see how I feel. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!