No Way So Hey – Day 14

Two weeks on the road. I’m in it thick now.

I broke my no McDonalds food rule and ate dinner next door to the hotel. I ran into Jason and George and we had a long chat.

The free breakfast at the hotel was actually pretty decent. I fueled up like I was going trekking in the Outback. On the way out I grabbed an apple and a banana for the road. 

I was directly in route so I wasted no time. The roads are getting better and better in terms of surface, traffic, and lack of rumble strips. Today’s start was a bit late owing to my need for sleep. The wind was at my back and the skyscapes were picture pretty.

I was just rolling along heading mostly west. The landscape was significantly less boggy. There were more pine trees in the woods I was passing through. 

I entered a new state after 25 miles. Although the South Carolina roads did get much better this morning, they can’t compare with the roads in Georgia. They are smoother and wider. Only at the end of the day did I have to deal with rumbles strips. 

I stopped in a country store at the state line.  It was in an El Cheapo gas station.  

After a few miles my perfect skyscape was obstructed by smoke. I was worried that I had stumbled into a forest fire but I never saw the cause of the smoke.

So I rode on. After 50 miles I was running out of gas. A gas station had a shop with eat-in “food”. It was fried chicken with fried potatoes and mystery rice. (The rice had stuff in it that didn’t belong there so I ate around the alien objects.) I followed that disgusting gastronomic experience with a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.


Back on the rode I lasted a couple of miles before seeing a Dollar General store. They are ubiquitous in the south. They are a five and dime store that looks like a grenade went off inside. If you look long enough you can find what you are looking for. I found some insect spray with enough deet to kill a pterodactyl, some sun screen, and some lotion for my dried out skin.

I rode into Statesboro. There doesn’t seem to be much here. It’s an east coast version of Gertrude Stein’s Oakland.

I was going to camp but the campground only seemed to have expensive cabins so I’m holed up in a hotel a half mile from town. It’ll do.

Tomorrow it’s on to Savannah. I plan to go another hostel. I haven’t heard back from the owner yet. 

No sign of Jason and George today.

71 miles for the day. Tour total is 989.5. 

No Way So Hey – Day 13

I awoke before most of the mosquitos and made a hasty exit from the campground. I was tired, smelled of bug spray, sweat, and sunscreen and just not really feeling very spunky.

It was a lovely morning despite my disagreeable nature. And so I rode. Much more of the same. Tunnels of trees. Farms. The blight of rural poverty sprinkled around truly lovely estates.

About 7 miles into the ride I passed the Horseshoe Lake Farm which according to my maps has a free bunkhouse for bike tourists. I couldn’t get ahold of the people by phone so I decided on Mosquito State Park instead. Maybe for free you get more mosquitos. I am not sure that is physically possible though.

The only difference between today and the last five days was the fact that the roads, at least for the first three hours, had very little traffic. Everyone was either at church or, from the looks of all the beer cans on the side of the road, home sleeping off a night of partying. The only thing more depressing than the trash was the sight of so many road kill armadillos. One of them was fresh and being enjoyed by a vulture when I rolled by. Nature is icky.


Riding through a long stretch of woods I was surprised when four steer (steers?) emerged from the trees as if preparing to cross the road in front of me. Maybe they were sprung from captivity by vigilante vegans. In any case, when the spotted me, the three smaller ones turned and fled into the woods. The biggest one, closest to the road, just looked at me with ennui.

The road I was on ran through some pretty impressive swamps. Still no sight of a gator though. After the swamps came some gently rolling hills. For the first time in hundreds of miles.

I ate convenience store food. A day old tuna salad sandwich, a banana, an ice cream cooking sandwich. I was riding with shade and a tailwind. I was bonking nonetheless, probably because of lack of sleep.

I came to Points South, an actual town, with an actual Waffle House (with two “f”s). I ate all the things. The food did nothing for my energy level. I was faced with a choice of five hotels (since the road I was on intersected with I-95) and a KOA campground. I decided to treat myself and stay at the best of the lot, a Hampton Inn.

As I was riding the 200 yards to the hotel I met two Dutch cyclists, Lucas (son) and George vanRijn, who were rolling into town on a trip from New York City to Key West. They didn’t seem the least bit chatty but I could see they were using the same maps as I. Like me, they are bound for Statesboro, Georgia tomorrow.

I rode 49 miles so my total is 918.5, still a tad over 70 miles per day. Also, it’s the farthest I’ve ever ridden on a bike tour.

No Way So Hey – Day 12

The hostel was not such a great idea as it turned out. One of my roommates decided to listen to hippety hop music at 2 am, after I left the room to use the rest room. Maybe I should have started singing I’m Still Here or some other Crowded House obscurity to change his ways. Fortunately, the other six roommates came in shortly after and calmly talked him into being a decent human being and turning the crap off.

The promised breakfast was coffee and oatmeal, make you own of course. No thanks.

I rolled out at daybreak taking a winding course through Charleston. I came to the Fort Sumter National Monument. Fort Sumter wasn’t there. (I know, it’s on an island in the middle of the river.) So I checked out the sunrise.


Speaking of Civil War things, I have seen four houses or cars with confederate flags so far. Many fewer than I expected. The Ravenel bridge out of Charleston was packed with runners enjoying the early morning humidity before the late morning heat. This looks like a running town to me, so many obviously fast runners.

I retraced my route from yesterday for about 35 miles. I stopped for one of those sausage on a biscuit things at a gas station. It was disgusting but it was portable and kept me from bonking. I turned off one road through the Frances Marion National Forest onto another. This area is also an Indian reservation. Other than a roadside sign it appears no different than the rest of the rural, wooded, swampy environs. Also, the roadkill now includes armadillos.


My turn put me on a halfway decent road with light traffic nearly all the way to metropolitan Moncks Corner. It was 50 miles into the day so I stopped at an Arbys (the first restaurant I came upon – selectivity is all important in bike touring) and ate mass quantities topped off with a vavilla shake. All the food gave me a massive surge of energy and I headed out at 11 miles per hour because The Mule is in charge of speed.

My route maps are pretty good but there have been many changes to the roads around here so I am stopping to check the Google whenever I am in doubt. I often do this to make sure I haven’t fallen into a trance and missed another turn.

Not knowing where I’d stay for the night, I kept buying food at every convenience store. The roads had now lost their rumble strips and their traffic so the riding was pretty joyous. Level, shaded, puffy clouds blocking the sun. Sweet!

I came to Givhans Ferry State Park and called it a night in one of the tent sights reserved for hikers and bikers. The site came with sand, electric hookup, water, and 10 billion goddamned mosquitos. My head was in a cloud of the pests. Setting up camp was insane. I used the bug spray Mrs. Rootchopper had provided. If I am going to camp again I need a can of Off that I can tow behind my bike.


After I was all set up I headed off for a shower. It was outdoors next to a playground. With a spring loaded faucet that you had to hold in the on position to get any water. I rinsed off as well as I could without getting charged with exposing myself to the little kids on the swings. I headed back to the tent for an evening of repose. I stayed up until the sun set then closed my eyes and rolled around for about 8 hours. My left knee was shrieking at me all night. (For me this is not abnormal, just an old volleyball injury reminded me that I am an old fool.)

I did manage to get about 2 hours of sleep at about 4:30.

Even with the mosquitos, this was a pretty successful day on the bike. 85 more miles for a total of 869.5.



No Way So Hey – Day Ten

If I were a bike riding stud, I’d be writing this from Charleston WV. But I eat quiche so I am about 70 miles away in Andrews SC. It’s hot and humid and I found a motel with AC. End of discussion. 

I cobbled together a breakfast of sorts in the motel lobby and headed out. The bridge of doom beckoned. First I had to cross to the oppposite side of an extremely busy 4 lane highway. I rode away from the bridge. Traffic on my side stopped for some reason. I ran my bike to the center turn lane and started riding further away from the bridge until a break in the bridge bound traffic occurred. Then I rode to the far shoulder and did a 180. 

Bridge bound! Alive! Then the shoulder gave out. Luckily so did the traffic. I made it across the span and darted back to the shoulder. Whew!

In town I bought some peanuts and pop tarts for the road and headed out. The relative humidity was absolute. So was the truck traffic. Good thing the rumble strips were there at the edge of the road to make my misery complete. 

I stopped to take a picture that the Friday Coffee Club will enjoy. 


My road bound stress was occasionally relieved by crossings of streams and wetlands. The water is black with tannins from the trees. I’d have stopped to take a picture but the dump truck drivers would have disapproved. 

After going through Yauhannah, I saw a truck approaching on the two lane road I was on. A sedan pulled out to pass the truck. It kept coming in my lane without the slightest recognition of me. I calmly pulled off the road and looked at the driver. She had a calm expression that suggested this was her normal way of driving. 

To be honest the drivers here have nearly all been patient. I’ve been honked at 3 times in 10 days. My worry is the 1 in 1,000 driver who doesn’t care or can’t drive worth a crap. 

Outside Pleasant Hill I stopped at a roadside grocery store. A large gray haired man came out and started chatting with me about my tour. I went inside and there were three more men solving the world’s problems. (Andrea, I swear it’s the same four men. They move around the US to amuse bicycle tourists.)

The next five miles were actually pleasant. Light traffic allowed me to ride down the middle of the country road. 

Until the next stressway appeared. This time with a mile long construction zone. After I cleared it, I pulled over to let the cars and trucks go by. 

At this point the humidity had given way to a blast furnace. I was totally comfortable in the shade but I fried without it. 

I arrived in Andrews and checked out the only motel within miles. Bed, AC, shower, TV, WiFi. Home for the night. 

After doing some personal business on the phone, I rode back into town and a a chef said and a gallon of Diet Pepsi. 

Next up, I’m going to scout out some dinner to bring back to the motel.

So about 55 miles on Day Ten. My total is now 717.5. As the old Bubba at the roadside grocery noted I’m not even half way. 

That noted, even with the traffic stress and the heat and humidity, I’m now getting into this tour in a big way. 

On to Charleston.

No Way So Hey – Day Nine

Wendy and I spent most of last night reminiscing about our days in Boston. Then we joined Brian for some TV, the Vietnam PBS program. At 10 I went to bed.

We met for breakfast at 6:30. Suffice it to say Wendy knows her way around a kitchen. Ham, cheese, scrambled eggs, an everything bagel with butter, and coffee. Before I left she prepared baggies full of pretzels and ginger snaps. I made myself a double decker PB&J. Hugs and a handshake and adios.

The day began with heavy traffic and no shoulder. For most of 13 miles. Then I turned off onto country roads but the heavy traffic persisted. New residential developments were interspersed with run down houses and beautiful saltwater marshes, streams, and ponds.

Near one marsh there were signs posted: Do Not Feed the Alligators. Brian warned me that I was headed into alligator country. 

My route angled me back to Ocean Island Beach. I missed a turn along the way but recovered without difficulty. 

My maps indicated that there was a bike shop on Beach Drive so I assumed it was along the beach. I climbed a steep bridge over the intercoastal waterway. A signed warned cyclists to walk across the bridge, but I said “Pshaw!” and pedaled onward. The edge of the bridge is a 2 1/2 foot high Jersey barrier. The view was great but one false move and you’d fall 50 or 60 feet into the water. Eek.

I crossed the barrier island. No Beach Drive. As the Google now told me, when I turned I was on Beach Drive. The bike shop was 1 mile ahead on my route. Argh!

Back over the waterway. Don’t look down. Breathe. 

I got to the bike shop and used a floor pump to top off my tires. Then on I rode. I was hot and I had been eating ginger snaps for an hour so why was I obsessing about ice cream? 

For the record, my bike gets 2 1/2 miles to the ginger snap.

Despite eating mucho ginger snaps I was bonking. I couldn’t figure out how on a hot day riding a 70 – 80 pound bike into a headwind might not be a ginger snappingly great idea. Also the heavy traffic had me fixated on my mirror instead of my water bottles. 

I entered South Carolina. State of the art road design is no paved shoulder and rumble strips. Are you kidding me? 

My route took me on US 17, a four lane bicycle death trap. I exited into the state visitor center. I filled my water bottles in the rest room. Then I downed my head with water. Next I found a water fountain with refrigerated water. It tasted amazing. I drank for 20 minutes until by belly sloshed. 

All better. Back on the bike I was soon on somewhat less heavily travelled country roads. The drivers were (mostly) taking care with passing me. They appeared to be preferring head on collisions to running me over. I’ll bet alcoholism is a problem around here. I do have evidence. I have never seen so much roadside trash. And so many blue beer cans and bottles. 

I found a convenience store and finally ate some ice cream, an ice cream chocolate cookie sandwich. Happy face. I also chugged a liter of cold water. Slosh.

The rumble strip romp continued another 20 miles to Conway. The only motels worth staying in were down a highway toward Myrtle Beach. The highway was like an interstate but it had a wide shoulder. Until it got to a bridge. I contemplated turning around until a big break in the traffic came and I went for it. There was a narrow sidewalk but the road seemed safer. The break ended but the cars gave me a wide berth. I sped down the far side to a Super 8 motel. It’s old but it’s clean and everything works. 

I check the temperature on my phone: 89 degrees. And muggy. The headwind disguised how hot it was. 

After cleaning my chain, I checked the route for tomorrow. I have three options. A 50 mile ride to Andrews, a 105 mile ride to Chaleston, or an 85 mile ride past the turn off to Charleston. The second option was my original plan but I think I’ll go to Andrews. Then ride to Charleston and the hostel there. 

My friend Mike Ross warned my about roads like the ones I was in today. He was right. 

78.5 miles today. 662.5 for the nine days.