Range, AL to Jackson, AL
Total Miles: 2389
It got pretty chilly again last night and I woke up to my tent covered in heavy sprinkling of morning dew. When I start getting my things ready my tent is usually the first thing to get loaded up but seeing as it was all wet I carried it over to a sunny spot in the grass to dry off a bit, last thing I need is mold to start growing on it. I had myself a delicious breakfast of bagels with peanut butter and honey and an apple, got everything else loaded onto my bike and laid in the sun to read a bit while my tent dried. It’s such a nice feeling to not really be on any sort of time schedule, just going with the flow of things and playing it by ear.
I hit the road at about 8 and pedaled maybe 10 miles to the nearest gas station. Amped energy drinks have replaced coffee for me in the mornings as it’s more convenient than busting out my stove and heating up water when I wake up. Maybe not the healthiest option but when you’re burning upwards of 6000 calories a day I think it’s ok to have a few vices. So after guzzling my sugary, caffeine filled goodness I headed out. The weather was amazing this morning, cool, totally wind-free and not a cloud in the sky. It doesn’t get better than this. The terrain on the other hand was downright punishing. It was just these non-stop, never ending rollercoaster hills, I’d huff and puff up a steep incline for 10 minutes, sail down the other side in 10 seconds, curse, cry and sweat up the next, breeze down the other side. On and on ad infinitum. I started to seriously question what the hell I was carrying in my bags and how I could get rid of it all. Sleeping bag? Who needs it, it’s warm out. Tent? Pssh, I’ll just sleep under the stars. All this food? Meh, I’ll just hunt some small game like a real man. Obviously this is all completely impractical but that was how I was feeling at the time 🙂
After about 2 hours of this I arrive at my first pit stop for the day: a tiny gas station-cum-post office. Yes, you read that right, this town was so incredibly tiny that the post office was also a convenience store. Rural America for the win. Before I go on, a little backstory so I don’t look like a complete dumbass. I’d been having a little trouble with the cleat on my left shoe the last few days, it’s the little metal attachment on the bottom that hooks me into my pedals. I’d tried replacing the bolts on them but one of them was too stripped out to move so I had tightened the other one really, really hard in order to make it click into my pedal without wiggling around. All fine and dandy. So i pull up to the gas station, unhook my right foot and plant it on the ground. I try to unhook my left foo but something had come loose (the stripped bolt) and it wouldn’t unclick. I reach down to untied my shoe in order to get my foot out of there but as I do my bike starts coming with me. For some stupid reason I instinctively kick my right foot up in order to regain my balance but, alas, to no avail. I crash sideways onto my left side and try as I might I can’t get my foot out of my shoe to get free. Three woman come bursting out of the gas station and, with their help, I’m able to get my foot pulled loose, It was quite embarrassing although I wish I had the forethought to have one of them snap a picture before they saved me because I probably looked absolutely hilarious.
No worse for wear except my wounded pride I hit the road again. Right out of town was this mammoth downhill section of road leading down to a river basin, I wish I had my speedo still only so I could see how fast I was going because it easily felt like I was doing 45. It was equal part exhilarating and terrifying as all I could think of was what would happen if my front wheel decided to pop off or I got another explosive flat. Still, it was great but as I’ve come to learn and hate: what goes down must come up. And it did. The next 25 miles were a real pain in my ass, or, more accurately, my legs. Lots and lots of steep climbs and brisk descents, the temperature had slowly begun to rise and I was completely drenched in sweat. By the time I reached the next town I was totally beat. I desperately needed some food and a long break. McDonald’s to the rescue!
After I felt sufficiently rested I hit the road to complete the last 15 miles. I won’t bore you with the details as it was a lot of the same: hills, more hills and me cursing every foul decision I had ever made that led me to this point in my life. I arrived in Jackson, AL and headed straight to the Post Office. I had two packages waiting for me! The first was a replacement helmet as the left speaker on mine had started to go out, it was still under warranty so Coros replaced it no questions asked. The second was from my parents and what an exciting surprise that was! I got a fancy new vacuum seal bottle to keep my water frosty cold, some of my Dad’s internationally renowned Dad Spice Mix to cook with (seriously, this shit is like crack, It turns the most meager of meals into an explosion of flavorful goodness) and they made me some business cards with my contact info and website address on there! You guys are the cats bomb!
The campground I had planned on staying at here was mysteriously shut down so I had no choice but to get a cheap motel. Honestly I was ok with the added expense after this long, hard day. A real bed is just what I need to prepare me for more of the same tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!