Providence, AL to Pickensville, AL
Total Miles: 2527
Editors note: I’ve tried my very hardest over the last 47 days to try and maintain some semblance of family friendliness to my writing, mainly keeping the F-bombs to a bare minimum, but that’s just not the way I talk in real life. It’s been pointed out to me by a few individuals that what makes my posts enjoyable to read is that it they possess the same linguistic cadence and style that you would get if you were having a conversation with me. So, because I’m a salty, foul mouthed sailor in real life i’m not going to be making any real effort to censor my writing from here on out. If you’re offended by certain words that our society has deemed crass or inappropriate then I humbly do not apologize. Descriptive words are only as offensive as you make them.
I woke up this morning at about 6:30 feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. No. Scratch that. 6:30 is when my alarm went off and I woke up for real. I actually woke up a little after 5 and this has been a recurring theme for me lately. It’s not that I snapped awake because I was just oh so eager to begin a days riding, no, it’s because that’s what time every fucking bird in the the god forsaken forest decides to wake up and shout with glee at the coming of a new day. I wish I could be so excited when the sun comes up… Moving on. So I rolled myself out of bed and started packing my things up. When I get up in the morning the first thing that gets stowed is my tent. It’s kind of a mental thing for me I think, it’s hard to put into words but once my tent is rolled away I feel like I have no choice but to move one. Anyways, so I roll up my tent and am about to stuff it into it’s bag when out of nowhere the biggest fucking spider I’ve ever seen in my life (besides a tarantula, but, come on) rears it’s foul little devil legs out of the the last fold. I’m really glad that there was no one else in this park because I screamed so fucking loud and threw myself backwards as far as my little legs could push me. I wish I could say that I deftly rolled my way into an offensive tactical pose but, no, I was sprawled out flat on my ass all over the grass. By the time I mustered up the courage to return to my tent the spider was nowhere to be found, which is almost as scary. Like, where is he? Is he hiding in some crevasse that I didn’t check, just biding his time? Waiting for the opportune moment to cut my throat in my sleep. Only time will tell…
Despite the absolute conviction I felt that the spider beast was somehow stowing away on my bike, waiting to kill me, I headed out into the morning. As soon as I hit the main road out of the campground I was assaulted by a rogue mini storm. Massive headwinds blowing, rain, lighting and thunder in the distance, the whole works. I had planned kind of a long day today so this new turn of events was rather disheartening. I pushed and pushed and pushed myself through this for what seemed like 30 miles (in all actuality it was only 15) until I arrived in the city of Demopolis where I decided to take a break and get some 2nd breakfast. When I finished my food and got back on the road I turned and started heading west. As soon as I made the turn it was like I had hit some weatherly demarcation line, the wind and rain abated along with the temperature and humidity. The One True Turtle Himself had swept down his mighty Shell and created a miraculous barrier between me and the raging storm. I was balls deep in what could only be a Turtle Power-Up and I was not about to waste it.
The terrain over the course of the next 20 miles was long, felt farmlands interspersed with gently undulating hills. It was amazing, the hills were just big enough to really get my blood pumping followed by long, leisurely descents with just a splash of tailwind thrown into the mix. I stopped in at a gas station in Eutaw to refill my water bottles and I only really mention it because of the name of the city. Eutaw. It’s spelled exactly how you would expect a southern accent to phonetically spell the word Utah. I don’t know about you, but I found it quite hilarious. Then again maybe it’s my lonely, company starved mind trying to find a small semblance of humor in order to stave off a full mental breakdown. I’ll let you be the judge. Seriously though, being all alone the last 2500 miles has been a lot more difficult than I imagined. I’ve always been comfortable being a solitary kind of guy but all of this time alone is really starting to wear me down. It’s not so much the riding during the day, that I can handle no problem, it’s more the hours I spend alone at my camp every night. My only solace is knowing that once I hook onto the Trans Am in Missouri I’ll be bound to run into more cross country cyclists than I could ever want. Let’s hope I make it :-p
So I pedal another 25 or 30 miles and arrive in the town of Aliceville were I immediately pull into the nearest gas station to get some fuel as I am fucking starving at this point. I park my bike and am about to head into the store when I hear a guy shout, “Hey! Where you headed?” When I glance over my first thought was to just ignore him. I don’t want to sound like a dick or anything but the voice came from this rusty, decrepit looking Chevy truck and the guy sitting behind the wheel didn’t look much better. Don’t judge me. I was tired, hungry and not really in the mood for some weird looking guy trying to rope me into some far out conversation. I made eye contact, though, so I felt obligated to go over and acknowledge him. He asked me the usual questions: Where you headed? Where you coming from? And had the usual wide eyed look when I told him. His name was Vernon and he asked me, “Can I get you something? A pop, maybe?” I told him “No, no I can get it but thank you anyways. He said, “I didn’t ask if you could get it. I asked if I could get you something. You’re traveling a long ways and I just want you to think good of our town.” I relented and told him I would gladly accept a soda from him. He handed me a crisp $20 dollar bill and told me to go grab a pop on him. So I did, I went inside and bought a Mountain Dew and came back out with his change but he was nowhere to be found. I asked one of the guys standing outside if he knew where that guy went or who he was. He said, “Who, Reverend Johnson? Probably back to the church, man, it’s Sunday.” I’ve never felt like a bigger piece of shit in my life. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
The remaining miles were few and, thankfully, uneventful. I’m staying at Pickensville State Park, rated in the top 100 campsites in America (in 2004). It has hot showers and clean bathrooms, though, so I’m quite content. Let’s hope tomorrow is just as fun and illuminating as today. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!