Saturday, March 15, 2008

Welcome to Georgia

I had planned on sleeping in as the wind was supposed to be at my back and I knew it wouldn’t get dark until after 7:30. I slept well, one of the advantages of sleeping in really nice bed. My ride wasn’t two minutes old when a car stopped in the middle of the street and a passenger jumped out on the curbside. I was nearly hit by the car door as the passenger opened the door to get out. It was just one of the many times I had to be alert to avoid being creamed. It was also then I realized that after cleaning my bike last night that I had put my front tire on backwards. It wasn’t my morning.

It was the first day of my ride since leaving California that felt like summer. I got started late, but it was instantly in the 70’s. The wind was highly variable; swirling for the most part. It made for a very labor-intensive ride: shift up, shift down, shift up, shift up, shift down. The bike was running smoothly after my cleaning it up last night.

On the route I had planned out I would avoid the city of Jacksonville, FL in its entirety. I had a feeling though that the bridge I wanted to cross wasn’t bike friendly. I lobbed a call to a bike shop in Jacksonville and confirmed my suspicion. They told me that I would have to come right through downtown Jacksonville to get over the river. While I had to go through the city, at least it was a Saturday and the traffic wouldn’t be that bad. While traffic did pick up as I neared Jacksonville, it wasn’t necessarily heavy. As I was riding though the city I got a peek of the bridge I had initially planned on riding over and it looked a bit dicey. I was glad I called the bike shop.

When I got to downtown Jacksonville I wanted to check my computerized map, but was a bit apprehensive about taking out my laptop as it didn’t look like the safest area. There was a young girl cursing at three older women going into the community center across the street. There was also a prostitute on the corner in broad daylight. ‘nuff said.

I ran out of water because I didn’t want to leave my bike anywhere by itself. It turned out that my intuition on the area was correct. It was confirmed when I stopped at a convenience store to grab a drink and use the bathroom. The owner of the place came over and said he would watch my bike. He told me that it would have surely been gone by the time I came out would he not tend it.

As I rode on I passed the North Jacksonville Anheuser Busch plant. I didn’t stop in for a tour, as it was already the cause of my late departure this morning. In the past I had visited the main Anheuser Busch headquarters in St. Louis, so I figured I was covered.

I arrived in the town of Kingston, Georgia to the main road being closed. There was no bridge that was out or construction going on. The road was closed for a car show. The entire main street was blocked off for a car show. As I was on my bike, I just sort of rolled though the roadblock. I had made it just in time for the judging. I wasn’t particularly interested in the winner, but I did check out the cars. There were an inordinate number of Corvettes; a car that I never really liked in any of its iterations. As I rode off, I heard the announcements: “Vee-hicle nummer twenny naahn".

Georgia did a great job on the bike route through the state. It was relatively scenic with just the right number of towns thrown in. It was isolated, but not deserted. The road was in good shape and there were bike signs all over the place. I had very little pressure from cars. The southern section of Georgia was also one of the nicer parts of the ride

When I arrived in the town of Brunswick, GA I thought about continuing on. I had an hour of daylight and 20 miles to the next collection of hotels north of where I was. As there was a good selection of places to stay, with any type of food I wanted to eat, I opted to stay in Brunswick and take a day off.

As a side note, thanks to all those people who dropped me a line to inquire about my well being in the wake of the storms and tornados in the area. It turned out that I was exactly a days ride south of the mess, so managed to avoid all of it.

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