Clara The Ice Breaker: Stories From the Road

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Tuesday January 10, 2017, 49 miles (79 km) – Total so far: 440 miles (708 km)

Charleston to Walterboro, SC.

Back on the road again and what a beautiful day to do it. Blue skys and warm temps. So warm in fact, there was a sighting of my pasty, chicken legs! I road back to Walterboro the same way I had gone to Charleston so no need to talk about the back roads canopied with live oaks. What I do want to mention are some of the stories that were told to me by the people I met on the road.

A beautiful day to ride.

As always, Clara was the icebreaker. “I really like that bike. Does it have an engine?” Haha, I must have heard that nine or ten times today. Of course my answer is always, “Yes. A 1955, classic twin V”. They’d want to know where I was going and why. I’ve got my answer down pretty well by now which gives more time to hear their stories. Here are a couple.

One man remembered his father who left his family to go on a fishing trip when his son was five. He came back twenty years later having called only twice. On the journey, he married a second woman and reportedly saved his money by not going to town while in port. One night, he was killed on the boat and his money stolen. His second wife sent his body back home. I thought how lucky I was to have had supportive parents to guide me.

A woman, slowly walked by me using her cane for support. There was a huge smile on her face. She was from New York City and had moved down here. She was so happy because she had rented a Ford Explorer and this was her second day of driving solo. She had never driven before but recently took lesions and now was ecstatic in her new found freedom. I thought to myself how I take driving for granted.

I met two young ladies, sisters, who were very happy about last nights football championship game. Clemson won. The older sister was picking up her younger one who was returning to family from Utah. She has been battling pain killer addition but has been successful for a year this month. She was seeking the support of family and they were glad to take her in. I thought about the healing power of family and friends and how like this brave woman, I was lucky to have it.

As I pondered these stories and ate my lunch of PB&J, I must have looked especially pitiful and displaced. A sweet lady came up and handed me a foil wrapped package full of delicious pound cake. She said that her friends and her church wanted to give me this food. I was blown away with her generosity and managed to croak out a thank you and how sweet the gift was. I thought about how lucky I was to be doing something I enjoyed and how so many can’t or won’t. I thought about the generosity of others.

The generosity of others.

These are stories I never would have heard had I not been touring around this great country. Stories that perhaps without Clara, never would have been voiced. I tremble at the thought of what I have yet to experience as I listen to stories on the road.

Home for the night. I've missed camping and now I'm back.

Clara’s Got A New Wheel: And When Clara’s Happy, Everybody’s Happy

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Monday January 9, 2017, 19 miles (31 km) – Total so far: 391 miles (629 km)

Out and back trip to the Charleston Bicycle Company. https://charlestonbicyclecompany.com/
Today’s job: Fix Clara. Fortunately I had good people working on that for me in the guise of Jeff and the friendly, helpful folks at the Charleston Bicycle Company.

Jeff, me and a happy, tuned and ready to ride Clara.

I’d called Jeff from Washington, Ga. when I first discovered the rim issue. He took all the information down, ordered just the right wheel, put his own magic touches to it and had it waiting to attach when I got there. A few brake, rear rack and other adjustments got Clara riding so smooth. Over time, little things happen which you may not really notice untill they all get fixed at once. I swear, I was averaging one mph faster on the way back. If you are in the area and need anything bike related, I highly recommend stopping by. Jeff will fix you right up. Thanks man!

The ride to the bike shop was a treat in and of itself. Hwy. 17 is a very busy road without shoulders. Erin showed me how to get there via the West Ashely Greenway, http://www.westashleygreenway.org/ a hard packed, gravel, rails to trails route. It passes by some beautiful marsh country with all the wading shore birds you can imagine. It’s also far enough away that you can’t hear the road noise either. Very pleasant.

The white dots are seagulls. My iPhone doesn't have a telephoto lens. There's an idea for you Apple.

So now, all we have to do is continue the tour and see what adventure awaits. I big shout out to Erin and Matt for the fine hospitality and putting up with me for an extra day. We are rested, fixed and ready to move on down the road. Your help is greatly appreciated. Tomorrow I head back to Walterboro and start riding the ACA mapped, Atlantic Coast Trail and thus start the Perimeter tour.

Family Time: Rest Day with my Daughter

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Sunday January 8, 2017

Enjoyed my first rest day, just hanging out with Erin and Matt. I had hoped for nice sunny, warm weather here but warm it was not. I think the high today was 38 F but it felt colder with the wind. Not to fear, as the forcast for next week calls for highs in the 70′s. perfect riding temperatures.
I caught up on all my tasks i.e. blog, Facebook, Instagram, emails and texts. I also put together a short movie about this first week of touring. (see bottom of page). Most of this was done lounging on the couch with my feet propped up. Nice life.

Erin has been quite the host. This morning, I was greeted with fresh coffee, sausage, egg and a banana pancake topped with real maple syrup I had brought back from Quebec from our tour last August. When did she become so domestic? I’m a very lucky man to have two children who have grown into fine adults.

I also got to spend time with my grand dog, Brie, the fluffy Goldie-doodle puppy.

She's a lot of fun and energy and makes me laugh. I'm missing my French Bulldogs, Griz and Gena so having a puppy to pet is nice. Also spent some time in Matt's PlayStation, Virtual Reality headset, exploring ocean depths, collecting salvage and being attacked by great white sharks. Pretty cool.

She’s a lot of fun and energy and makes me laugh. I’m missing my French Bulldogs, Griz and Gena so having a puppy to pet is nice.

Also spent some time in Matt’s PlayStation, Virtual Reality headset, exploring ocean depths, collecting salvage and being attacked by great white sharks. Pretty cool.

Erin and Matt playing a game involving teamwork and preparing meals. Too funny.

Today’s activity will be more of the same with the addition of getting Clara’s wheel. Erin and Matt are off to work so I’ll need to entertain myself. Let’s see what mischief I can get into.

“Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful”: I get to where all my clothes!

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Saturday January 7, 2017, 48 miles (77 km) – Total so far: 372 miles (599 km)

Walterboro to Johns Island, SC near Charleston.
Man, it rained hard all night but tapered off as morning approached. Glad I was covered well in the hotel. I know, I know. I promise to camp next week. After all, I’m carrying all this gear.

The temperature started at 39 degrees so it was a little hard to get motivated to ride a bike today. Oh but wait. There’s a Waffle House across the parking lot. How convienent. I just love me some pecan waffles, coffee and crispy bacon in the morning. Not to mention talking up the fine ladies working there.

I'm sorry but I forgot her name. Usually I write it down but not this time. She's from Germany and has lots of children but took time to mother me as well.

Now to leave. Where did I pack that warm weather gear? Opted for my usuall kit but added a long sleeve shirt, head warmer, socks and shoe (sandal) covers, neoprene backed gloves and my rain suit.

The weather's not the only thing that looks frightful. One of my IG friends said I looked like a woodpecker with my nose shield on. Haha!

This combination worked well even though there was a stiff wind, usually a tailwind, and the temperature had dropped to 36 F when I started. Not much sweating today.

I was excited to ride today because I’d be arriving at my daughter’s house for a couple of days off. Somewhere down the road, a song started forming in my head so I turned on the memo app and recorded the bits and pieces that came to me. If I don’t do this, the lyrics and tunes are gone forever. Hopefully, a complete song will come from this and I have time to work on it. It’s about riding in the cold rain. Go figure.

Google wasn’t finished with me though. I really only had two roads to follow and even I can keep that straight. When I got to Hwy 17 though, it was a busy, four lane without a shoulder. I was willing to turn off of it when Google suggested but knew right away, her route wasn’t going to work.

Turn right then take an immediate left. Ok, I'm not falling for it this time. BTW, there was no other road to even choose from.

I wonder what the self-driving car would have done in this situation? Are they working on self-pedaling bikes?

Found my own way off of 17 and traveled down beautiful, live oak covered roads, past quaint houses and the occasional salt marsh, teaming with oysters and shrimp. I just love that smell which means I’m near the ocean.

Obviously, this is a good route as it's marked for an organized ride.

About 30 miles into the ride though, I was getting cold and hungry. Then, what did I see? Snowflakes mixed with the rain.! My first snow tour, in Charleston no less. Who would have guessed? I was so excited. It didn’t last long and there really wasn’t enough to take a picture of but it sure picked me up.

When I got to the town of Hollywood, I saw a resturant with my name on it. Korner Kitchen serving soul food. I swerved right in and got red rice covered with okra soup, a porkchop, cornbread and sweet tea. God, that was good. Not to mention the fantastic service by the staff and owner. You guys fueled me right up for those last few miles.

Here's my lovey ladies who fed me at the Korner Kitchen. I very carefully wrote all their names down in my phone but can't find them. So sorry but thanks so much for the fine meal. Photo by Elizabeth.

Only twelve more miles separated me from Erin and they flew by. She knows me well, and as her Goldie-doodle, Brie, frolicked all around me, Erin offered a Jamison to warm me up. Matt came home soon after and we ate a fine home cooked meal of chicken and rice and watched football until I fell asleep on the couch.