Friday, November 13, 2009

Welcome to South Carolina

107.9 Miles - Blairsville, GA to Anderson, SC

I needed a little time getting going given yesterdays debacle, but I was back at the mountains. My longest and most memorable climb of the day was up to Neel Gap. Why was that significant you ask? It is where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road, 30 miles after the start of the trail. I had hiked across the very road that I was now riding and actually stayed at Neel Gap my second night on the Appalachian Trail.

As I was enjoying the view (when I said I was biking in the mountains, I wasn’t kidding) I chatted with a hiker who began hiking south from Maine in June. I had passed him on the trail when I was hiking up to Mt Katahdin. He was now 2,145 further on, 30 miles from his goal. Well done.

It was a busy day at Neel Gap as while I was getting ready to continue riding, two other cyclists came by. They were out for a joy ride climbing mountain passes for fun. I had a bit of a chin-wag about biking with the pair, but I was really looking forward to the next six miles of my ride.

The payoff for the climb to Neel Gap was getting to bomb down the back side of the mountain. I thought about taking some video, but I was having far too much fun on the chicane, riding down the mountain road. It is not often that I can double up on the speed limit while riding a bike, but the curves signed at 20 MPH were a blast rolling along at 40 MPH on my bike.

Further on I stopped in a small town for lunch. It wasn’t so much a diner, but rather a convenience store that served food. The place was packed with the local crowd; decidedly blue collar. Playing the game of “Which one of these does not belong?” would have been quite easy. I got the usual odd looks, but the food was rather tasty.

While it was a tiring day, I enjoyed the ride through the mountains. I did have a little bike issue as when I was changing gears my chain jammed into a place that it has no place being. While I sat on the side fo the road, I had to take my chain completely off my bike to get it fixed. If that is the worst thing that is going to happen to my bike, I am OK with it. The front tire is still hanging in there given the beating it took yesterday.

I was riding into dusk and found another use for my light. I was able to fasten it to the back of my bike an put it in flash mode to alert traffic behind me to my presence. I didn't necessarily need the light to see as it was still dusk, but I felt better having it flash behind me.

Traffic the last 10 miles to the town of Clemson was unbelievably heavy, as one might expect for 5 o’clock on a Friday. I wanted no part of it, but had little in the way of choice to get to where I needed to be. Not too surprisingly, there was no shoulder on the road, though it was two lanes in each direction, so at least cars had some room to shuffle over. Some of the drivers shuffled more than others.

I found a few miles relief by touring the Clemson University campus. I would have to get back out in the thick of things before my day would come to an end though. Traffic got a little crazy, even for me. I had planned on staying on the far end of town in Anderson, SC, but I bowed out on the north side. The extra few miles just wasn’t worth it.

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