Winter Is Comming: You know nothing John Snow

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Friday January 6, 2017, 54 miles (87 km) – Total so far: 324 miles (521 km)

Barnwell to Walterboro, SC.
Woke up to a fine, pink sunrise this morning, hoping to stay ahead of the rain but it was not to be. Google decided it was time to mess with me and she’s a practical jokester. I looked at my traditional analog map and saw that Hwy 64 was a straight shot between stops. Ms. Google said, “nay, nay”. I really think the problem started because somewhere, when I should have made a turn, the GPS, or cell signal or whatever she uses disappeared. From then on, it was her attempt to get me back on route.

First fun turn, Alligator Road.

“In 600 feet, take a right turn onto Alligator Road”. What? You’ve got to be kidding me Google! Can’t you see that’s a sand road? So there I am, dazed and confused,wondering what to do. Maybe it’s only for a short distance, so I turn and head down a little ways. “Stay on Alligator Road for two miles”. OMG!

Well, there was nothing to do but go forward. At least I thought, it will make a good story. Let me tell you, it’s hard enough to ride a sand road on a regular bike let alone a 120 pound long based recumbent with a 20 inch wheel. Maybe I’ll get to see an Alligator. Nope, but I did fall prey to many a sand trap.

I finally made it out alive, if not sandy and off we go again. Wait, is my asphalt road turning to a driveway wide sand pit again? No way! Fortunately a nice angel walking her dog spared me and sent me on my proper route. Even then as I was moving along, Google says, ” Turn left on Hoppin John Road”. You guessed it, sand. I just kept on going. No way was I turning. Finally, I found Hwy 64 again but while I was doing all that, the rain found me. Bummer!

Wet, cold frustrated and somewhat cranky, I needed a pick me up. What’s that up ahead in the town of Lodge? An old gas station with lots of cars parked outside. Could it be? Yes, a gas station/resturant! Yippee! I’m all over that so in I go and I’m a happy camper again. Funny how the dry, warm confines of a friendly place that smells of good food can make a day. Not to mention two, fine lady’s who cooked and served me said food.

Here are Shirley on the left and Florence on the right. Two lady's who made my day. The signs between them helped too.

After that, all I had to do was ride another twenty miles down the road to my next hotel of the trip, check in, shower, change and hunt and gather food. The songs of Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Mumford and Sons and Joe Bonamassa made the miles fly by.

So, here I am in Walterboro which is actually on the ACA Atlantic Coast Route. Hear that Google? I got Maps. Tomorrow, God willin and the creek don’t rise to high, I head into Charleston to spend a couple of nights with my daughter Erin. Hopefully, Clara’s wheel can limp the last 45 miles in and we will pick up her new one. All that, as long as it doesn’t snow tonight. Winter is Comming!

“Riders on the Storm, Riders on the Storm”: “Into this House We’re Born, Into This World We’re Thrown, Riders on the Storm”

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Friday January 6, 2017, 54 miles (87 km) – Total so far: 324 miles (521 km)

The Doors
Edgefield to Barnwell, SC.

The Weather Channel has been calling for a significant winter storm to blow across the country and into the southeast. They’ve even named it Helena. When did we start naming winter storms? Everyone I meet is concerned for me as I head south. They are calling for snow even as far as Charleston, my destination on Saturday. We don’t do snow well in the south. We go into paralysis, buy every bit of milk, eggs and cheese in the store, hunker down for then end of the world. All I can say is, at least I’m riding away from it and not toward an event as I usually do. Haha

Lots of traffic on the road today as I move toward interstate 20 and Aiken, SC. Lots of truck traffic. Lots of very courteous truckers giving me a wide birth and slowing down to wait for oncoming traffic to clear. Thanks guys.

It was colder today, in the 30′s with a fairly significant headwind. I’m wearing my nylon zip offs, nylon shirt with arm warmers, vest and wind jacket. No gloves, no hat other than my helmet, and no socks on my sandaled feet. I’ve got all that packed but so far I haven’t needed them. That might change on Monday when the forcast highs are in the 30′s. I tend to run a little hot and the effort of biking up the hills still leaves me sweating. Everyone asks me if I’m cold.

I head down the Fall Line today, that area where the Piedmont Plateau drops down into the Coastal Plains. That means Spanish Moss, Long Leaf Pine and sand replaces the red clay of the hills.

This is a baby Long Leaf Pine. In 100-150 years, it will be fully grown and magnificent.

It also means the hills start to disappear and the riding becomes flat with little elevation change. My knees are happy campers.

Agriculture changes a bit to including the pine forests mentioned above, an abundance of beautiful horses who are so curious about Clara and peaches. Peaches. Man do I wish I was riding through here when they are ripe.

This is a peach orchard. Soon they will be covered in peach blooms, then the juicy, glorious peaches will form.

Today’s weather actually turned out well and I had to once again remove the jacket and arm warmers and apply sunscreen. Looking in my rear view mirror however, I can see the ominous beginnings of Helena’s approach. I was so looking forward to my first campsite tomorrow night but that is when she will bring her heavy rain turning into possible snow on Saturday. I won’t be able to out ride her, just out maneuver her. Adventure travel means being able to change plans when needed. I’ll think about that tonight, safe and warm in the Days Inn in Barnwell.

My inn keeper, Roshan Patel giving Clara some love.

South Carolina: Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places

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Thursday January 5, 2017, 59 miles (95 km) – Total so far: 216 miles (348 km)

Today’s goal: Tour in a new state. Done.
Washington, Ga. to Edgefield, SC.

We’ve toured in many states but never South Carolina. Soon, I’ll have to place a new state flag decal on the fairing but my prerequisite of touring is to ride at least two days and spend one night there. This will be the first of many state sign photos to come. A good feeling.

My fatigue from yesterday seemed much less today. I decided to stop more, drink more and eat more along the way. I set 12 miles as a goal and stuck with it. Also, my left knee was a bit sore, especially while climbing so I used all the gears I paid for and creeped up the hills.

Along the way, the sun came out and the first blue sky of the trip appeared. So nice to see again. It warmed up so much, I was riding in shirt sleeves and had to apply sunscreen. I’ve even started that funny sandal tan on my feet.

Blue skyes, nothing but blue skyes.

Of course, I always keep one eye out for mailbox art. Had to be looking up for this one.

Google really did well finding the less traveled routes. I only came across one small, practaclly deserted town after I got into SC. Kind off reminded me of the towns in Georgia where they film “The Walking Dead”. No zombies here though, just nice folks wondering why that strange guy was taking pics of one of their buildings. It’s all Clara’s fault. She’s a sucker for “bikes against the wall” shots.

Love the sign. The store was no longer open though. Even excellent merchandise can't withstand poor economy.

My riding tactics seemed to be paying off and even though I was riding later in the day, I was riding stronger and without pain. As I usually do, I listened to my iPod for the last ten miles. This really picks me up and the pace quickens. I must look funny to the drivers as they see a cyclist singing and dancing down the road. It’s the effect Music has on me. It makes me forget, at least for the moment, things that may be troubling me. Those artists will never know how they helped an old man have fun while torturing himself. Guess that’s why I’m riding for a cause like Fender Music Foundation.

Pretty soon, I’d made it to Edgefield. The sign said, Home of Ten Governors. Ten? Wow. This is the quintessential Antebellium town with huge, white columned mansions all along the roads. Apparently Sherman was repelled in his attempt to burn it during the civil war. I was greeted with tue southern hospitality at the Edgefield Inn and Clara was offered a place of honor in the main lobby for the night. Now she’s got the big head.

Ms. Lacy took a likin to Clara and Clara is beaming with gratitude.

The endorphin high was strong after today’s accomplishments. I’m sure I irritated everyone I met with over exuberance. Then after two hours, it dropped me like a rock. Boom! Nothing left. Couldn’t even scroll through my Instagram feed. Woke up two hours later with the lights on and the iPad still in my hand. Just gotta go out there tomorrow and get some more.

On a side note, Clara has a bum rear hoof. Her rim is starting to come apart. Noticed it this morning as I was pumping up the tire. I called ahead to The Charleston Bike Shop and Jeff is ordering her a new wheel. Let’s just hope I get there in time. Keep your fingers crossed.

“And Ride Till the Sun Comes Up and Down Around Two or Three Times”: “Singing Songs For the People I Meet”

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Tuesday January 3, 2017, 55 miles (89 km) - Total so far: 157 miles (253 km)

Song Lyrics above by John Prine “Clay Pigeons”Royston to Washington, Ga.I had a great nights sleep and awoke to fine coffe, breakfast and fellowship with my hosts Tim and Linn. What an excellent introduction to the Warm Showers way of life. I’d say it was accidental but I know that Linn happened to see me on the road and rushed home, told Tim I was coming and they both went out of their way to invite me in. One big hearty Thanks to you both. If you are riding in the area, be sure to look these two fine folks up. You won’t be disappointed.

Off into the fog I went, wondering what adventure would unfold. I always seem to start the day looking for some exciting journal entry. At first, all I seemed to come up with was apperentally, it was a bad night for skunks on the road. Phew. Then I saw my first armadillo of the trip. Not a good night for him either. So far, the journal had nothing but then my luck changed.

It’s always amazing how events seem to unfold. I’m sure luck has something to do with it but sometimes you create your own luck by just looking for it. I pulled into Elberton, Ga needing a break and snacks. There was a nice park at town center so I stoped and low and behold, there was a music shop on the square. It even had a Fender sign lit. Not being shy, I walked right over and handed my card to the attendant. We talked of my trip and my cause. He said he would let the local radio station know. I admired all the beautiful instruments.

Returning to Clara and snacks, I soon noticed a nice gentleman carrying my helmet across the street. Those of you who know me know that I leave my stuff everywhere. The nice gentleman turned out to be Larry Guest, the mayor of Elberton. He was very nice and listened to me prattle on about my tour. Then he saw a local musician, Erica Sunshine Lee and introduced us. She was a ray of sunshine indeed. She has seven CD’s and is getting ready to launch another. She has played in Nashville and toured to such places as Vietnam. She’s preparing to go to Northern California to play so maybe we will meet again. Good luck Erica. I’ll check out your music on iTunes.

Larry seemed impressed so he went to the local paper, The Elberton Star, and they sent Ms. Shana Toney over to do her first interview ever. Wow, two interviews in three days! I’m infamous. Haha. Shana did a great job and I wish her well with her newspaper job and her dream of dancing which she is also teaching in a nearby studio.

After all this royal treatment, it was hard to get my lost helmet back on my swollen head. Do you see what I mean by creating your own luck?

Stans Music World, the Mayor of Elberton, Larry Guest, and my new favorite newspaper reporter, Shana.

Still having miles to go, I had to leave. Not far down the road, I found my first cool mailbox of the trip.

I had started taking mailbox art photos as a theme on the TransAm. Folks can get right creative. As I got nearer, I notice a young lady sitting in a golf cart beside it. I asked if I could take a picture, she said yes and that she was waiting for a letter from her fellow. The mail had not run in the last three days due to the holidays and she was very anxious to see if he had written. He’s been away at Paris Island doing marine training for three months and they were hoping he could come home. Look at the following picture to see if the letter arrived.

Katie is one happy lady.

As they day grew long, camp seemed to get further away. Seems like day three and four of the tour is always the hardest. The excitement of starting is replaced by thr reality of hard, physical work and the body starts to tire. I pulled into a convince store for a Coke and a snack and found these two ladies who perked me right up.

Alice and Corie.

If you look closely, you’ll see that Corie is a member of the Washington-Wilks Tiger Band. Just the kind of person I hope to help by riding for Fender Music Foundation.

I made it to camp (Quality Inn) eventually. I love a camp with a Mexican Resturant across the street. A Negra Modello, Chori Pollo followed by rest soon got me ready for the next day. What kind of luck will I create tomorrow?