Cumulative miles: 2,629.5
Oh dear God! Soooo hot and humid today! I was melting out there! I had to make a few different stops at service stations for extra beverages! Today I decided it was time to break out the cycling shirts and short sleeve shirt. I think this will be my outfit the rest of the way. I had to reapply sunscreen in the middle of my ride, but it looks like I survived without getting burnt today!
Besides the extreme heat/humidity, there were a few hills out there in the first half of the ride. Once beyond those it was relatively flat. One good thing about Florida is that it seems to be pretty bike friendly. Most of the roads have a separate lane for cyclists and the roads are fairly smooth. I didn’t see much of the coast today as I was more inland. I was riding through some swampy areas. I kept thinking an alligator might crawl out into the middle of the road. I’m kind of glad that didn’t happen though…cuz it probably would’ve eaten me…
About 10 miles out of DeFuniak, my rear tire was making a clicking noise as if a rock might be stuck in it. I pulled over to take a look and notice a tumor-like bubble pushing up against the tire. It was about the size of a large marble. I decided to keep going and prayed that I could just make it to the motel. After another couple of miles, I suddenly heard a huge pop!! I looked at my back tire as I was riding and didn’t see the tire lose any air so I kept going. So weird!! I was able to make it all the way to the motel. I couldn’t even find a hole in the tire! Strange… I was excited to be at the motel so I could take a shower and enjoy the A/C! Did I mention it was hot? Yeah, it was hot! Tomorrow, maybe I should leave a lot earlier to avoid as much sun as possible…
Cumulative miles: 2,536.5
Almost forgot my phone in the motel room this morning before getting on the road. That would’ve been disastrous considering that it’s been pretty much my lifeline! Today I cruised along Mobile Bay which was beautiful! Lots of expensive and large houses along the bay. It was a nice ride through that area with the tall trees shading me for a good portion of the ride. The humidity has finally hit me with a big upper cut! Since I started my journey (except for one day), I’ve been wearing long cyclist tights and a long sleeve thin shirt each day. I’ve also been wearing a bandana over my nose and mouth to protect me from the sun, exhaust, and random bugs that fly into me. If I didn’t sunburn pretty easily, there’s no chance in hell I’d be sporting these is this weather. However, I may have to switch to shorts and short sleeve shirts very soon…like tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel in the morning. It’s just a pain to have to layer up with sunscreen again in the middle of my ride.
Well, I almost got killed today on the road. I was pulled off to the side, waiting for cars to pass by so I could relieve myself. I turned away for a second then looked back at the cars coming. I instantly saw a red truck coming towards me that had CLEARLY swerved over to either scare the s**t out of me or try and kill me!! There was no real shoulder to the road, but I was in the grass. I wasn’t even on the road!! I gave him a big one finger salute and shouted a few choice words! If I had moved back an inch or even leaned my head back a bit, there’s no doubt he would’ve hit me! The adrenaline rush from that experience actually gave a boost to my energy, so I pressed on.
Another flat…slow leaker. After I fixed the tire, I was back on the road heading towards Florida. I passed through Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Near the Florida state border around Orange Beach, there was a lot of partying going on, and it looked like spring break. So, it was something called the Mullet Toss. It’s an annual event where individuals compete on the beach throwing a mullet (fish) from a 10 foot circle in Florida across the state line into Alabama. There’s also plenty of beer and ladies in bikinis at this event. Sounds like my kind of party! However, I’ve got more important things going on right now. I’m riding across the country!! Yess!! Ok, so I crossed over into Florida! The final state on my journey!! I’m so excited! I made it to my destination for the night - Pensacola - without any further hitches. I’ve calculated that I will make it to St. Augustine by next Sunday! And, I’m gonna make it happen!
Cumulative miles: 2,458.5
It was a muggy morning, but last night the temperatures did drop down just enough for me to feel comfortable getting into my sleeping bag. The bathroom was infested with some strange-looking gnats, so I tried to stay out of there as much as possible, which meant no shower.
I got on the road and headed towards Alabama. After just over 20 miles and I was in Alabama! One more state to go! I zig zagged my way through Mobile and crossed Mobile Bay. It was a short ride today, but I had some headwinds that dragged it out longer than it should’ve been. Once in Daphne, which seemed to be a cool little town, I was excited to find a great place for dinner. I ended up eating at the Longhorn Steakhouse - walking distance from my motel. Ahhhh…yes! I was back in a motel again! The Longhorn Steakhouse was quite tasty! It was a great place, even though somebody sitting at the bar specifically asked the channel to be turned to NASCAR. Really? NASCAR?? Oh well, I guess I have to remember that I am in Alabama… On to Florida tomorrow!
Cumulative miles: 2,393.5
The day started with a wonderful breakfast made by Ani! Had some eggs, bacon, toast, and grits…plenty of fuel to give me the energy I need! So you’re probably wondering why my starting point isn’t Folsom, so I’ll come clean. Ani drove me 35 miles ahead to Bogalusa, which helped me as I would’ve been stuck in the middle of nowhere (as far as sleeping was concerned) had I started those 35 miles back. So she really did me a huge, huge favor. Even with the head start, I still ended up riding 100 miles. Today I crossed the border into Mississippi. There wasn’t much exciting on the road today. I went through some small towns, people honked, people waved. I finally made it to Vancleave. I was camping again tonight at the White Sands Campground. I was told I could set up my tent on the large wooden gazebo and did so. Tonight was going to be a very, very hot and humid one. The bugs were out and already attacking me. I sprayed my arms and legs before going to bed, but I was already too late. I just hope the temperature drops at least a couple degrees…ugh!
Here are some highlights:
- Rested and relaxed (aka chillin)
- Ate a PoBoy sandwich, boiled shrimp, boiled crawfish and crab, grits, and gumbo! These were all delish!!
- Ani and Charlie have a talking African Grey Parrot named Bert that can say quite a few sentences like “Got a kiss for momma” and “Daisy you’re in charge.” Daisy is their dog. Bert can also sing ring around the rosie and happy birthday. Such an amazing bird!
- Ani was kind enough to let me borrow their car to go down to New Orleans for a day. I walked the infamous Bourbon Street and enjoyed coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde!
- Enjoyed Charlie’s amazing life stories!
- One thing I must say…Ani and Charlie welcomed me into their beautiful home and are the epitomy of southern hospitality. So nice, so awesome! If you look up the definition of southern hospitality, you will no doubt see their faces next to it. I was so spoiled while I was at their house. In fact, if I stayed one more day, I probably would’ve thrown in the towel on my voyage and had an early retirement there!
Cumulative miles: 2,293.5
I woke up feeling refreshed! In the morning, Perry cooked breakfast for us! Such amazing hospitality! And this was all for free!!! We had pancakes, coffee, and a baked sweet potato! Add some butter, crumble some walnuts and sprinkle some cinnamon on the sweet potato and Mmmmm! After breakfast it was time to pack up the tent. As I was packing up, Perry came out and gave me a to go bag of baby carrots, string cheese and half a bagel sandwich with peanut butter. Wow! So cool! On my way out, as I was pushing my bike towards the street, Perry heard my bike making a squeaking noise and asked me about it. Upon further review…I had broken a spoke and my wheel was slightly bent. I remember hearing a popping sound like a rock from a car hitting my spokes yesterday but that’s all I thought it was. I didn’t see anything as I looked down at my wheel when it happened. Perry removed the broken spoke and helped me loosen my break pads so they wouldn’t rub the wheel as I was riding. We talked a bit more and I was finally on my way. I definitely needed to get to a bike shop as soon as possible.
Today I was off to Folsom, which is just south of the map I’m following. I was going to be staying with the parents (Ani and Charlie) of my good friend Bridget from back in San Jose. The ride in to Folsom was quite hilly. I decided to dub that area Louisiana Hill Country. I made it into Folsom around 3:30, and Bridget’s mom Ani picked me up. I was ready for some chillin and relaxin! Dinner was fantastic! Baked chicken and potatoes with broccoli. Ohh…and some beer to ease the muscle pain! I have no doubt I will enjoy this for the next few days…
Cumulative miles: 2,216.5
Today I saw plenty of cows on my ride. I couldn’t help but amuse myself by shouting at them, “Who wants steak for dinner tonight?” and “Beef! It’s what’s for dinner!” Unfortunately, I got no reaction out of them…just blank stares at me…
Today I crossed the Mississippi River via the spectacularly designed Audubon Bridge. The bridge was awesome, the mighty muddy Mississippi…not so much. Once across, I was still in Louisiana though.
Today I was headed to a bicycle hostel/campsite near Jackson. I was feeling a little guilty for not been as adventurous on my trip, so I decided to camp tonight. Before getting there, I stopped in Jackson to pick up a Subway sandwich for dinner because there’s probably not going to be any restaurants nearby as the hostel is about 4 miles outside of downtown. I continued on to the hostel through some slightly rolling hills and past the Dixon Correctional Institute. When I pulled in, no one was there, so I parked my bike alongside the house. After 5 minutes, another person came out of nowhere and looked as if she had just had a shower. It turns out she was riding from Florida to Texas…Del Rio to be exact, where she said she lives “temporarily.” I got the impression that she doesn’t like it there. She mentioned that the owners of the hostel had gone to Baton Rouge and would be back in about an hour. She told me about the cool outdoor shower and how to use it and I decided to go get cleaned up.
Once I was cleaned up the owners (Lep and Perry) came, and I introduced myself to them. They were very talkative, especially Perry. We were the only cyclists that came through that day. It turns out I didn’t need that sub for dinner tonight as Perry was cooking a Taco Dinner for us! Wow! What an awesome surprise! While she was cooking dinner, I found a good spot out of about 2 acres worth of land and set up my tent. It had been a while, but I didn’t forget how it was done. Dinner was amazing! We ate at the table with them inside their house as if we were family! After dinner, I watched Dancing with the Stars with Lep. It was somewhat painful but nice to relax and just watch nonsense TV. It was then time for bed. During the night I could hear the bullfrogs from Lep and Perry’s pond and coyotes howling nearby. Had a great sleep as it got down to the 40s!!
Cumulative miles: 2,131.5
Was a short ride today so I headed out a little later in the morning. Although the storm had passed, there were still some slight headwinds and crosswinds. I passed through Chicot State Park. It was like going into a swampy jungle, yet it was a pleasant ride in between the trees shading me. The park is home to a number of wild animal species, including whitetail deer, raccoons, coyotes, and bobcats. I didn’t see any of those animals on my ride, and I’m especially glad I didn’t bump into the latter two. Yikes!!
As I continued on, I passed by small towns with crawfish fields and rice fields. I was chased by more little yappers. I’ve certainly seen my share of roadkill in this state so far. I think turtles have taken the lead with armadillos a close second!
The roads were bumpy towards the second half of the ride, and it was no different as I rolled into Simmesport. The motel I’m staying at is pretty dumpy. The owner is running it out if his convenience store next to it. When I first came in, the cleaning lady told the owner to give me 102 or 103. Then, some guy who was in the store buying stuff shouted out that he wanted 104 and 105 because he couldn’t bring skanks back home to his mom’s place. His words…not mine. Yeah, interesting place. Well, believe it or not, tomorrow I will be camping out in Jackson, LA! Here’s to a good and safe ride tomorrow! Cheers!
Cumulative miles: 2,073.5
Yesterday’s storm lingered for a bit this morning, so I waited until about 8:30 before leaving. At that time the rain had subsided, but it was fairly cold and clouds still blanketed the sky. There were some pretty strong headwinds and crosswinds today as I rode towards Ville Platte. It was a struggle just to maintain 10 mph in some areas. But, I powered through because I had no other choice.
I’m usually pretty good about looking out for debris in front of me as I’m riding. In fact, I almost have constant tunnel vision of about 30 feet in front, which gives me enough time to swerve if I have to. Well….today I got screwed! I had another flat and there was a 1 inch screw stuck in my tire! Awesome! Just what I needed! Luckily the gnats were hiding due to the weather or it would’ve been more painful to fix the tire. Once the tube was replaced and back on the tire, I was off again!
More big dogs and small yappers! One dog chased beside me as I was pedaling into the wind (yeah..greaaaat) and as I was trying yelling at him to get away, he grabbed one of the straps on my side bags with his mouth. Thankfully he let go. But I still have my pepper spray handy and will use it if necessary! Beware dogs, beware!!
Ridding into Ville Platte, there wasn’t much to see. The dumpy motel I was going to stay in didn’t have a single restaurant or gas station nearby. It was like a ghost town over there. So, I made a reservation at a different motel on the other side of town. There was plenty of life on this side of town, and I was able to get some dinner close to the motel. Still looking for Cajun food and crawfish! It’ll have to wait for now though… Onward to Simmesport tomorrow.
Cumulative miles: 1,991.5
I left early this morning (at 7:00) as there was a thunderstorm system expected to move into the area in the afternoon. Another flat day and my fastest in a long time. There were long straightaways along the highways mostly. The sky was overcast as the clouds began to move in. I met another cyclist going to San Diego. It seems to be obligatory to stop and talk to one another, not that I have a problem with it. But, it’s just expected that you’ll stop and share some of your experiences with a stranger then move on. More dogs today…more gnats as well. Damn gnats piss me off more than anything else.
Today I crossed over into Louisiana! Goodbye Texas and your interesting Tex-Mex food. We had some good times! I’m sure I’ll be back for some more fun! I arrived at the motel much earlier than expected but luckily was able to check in. The thunderstorm came through around 7:00 and didn’t disappoint. Lots of rain came pouring down, and it’s supposed to be over by early tomorrow morning before I leave. I only hope tonight’s rain doesn’t cause any issues for my riding. Tomorrow I press on further into Louisiana…
Cumulative miles: 1,915.5
Left Coldspring after 8:00 this morning. The ride was mostly flat today. Thank God! I’m finally out of the hills! My ride took me through the Big Thicket National Preserve. The Big Thicket once covered a million acres, and there are areas still so thick and brushy with undergrowth like an impenetrable jungle! Apparently, in the past the Big Thicket has served as a handy hiding place for outlaws and smugglers. During the Civil War, the Big Thicket became a refuge for service-dodging Texans. The Confederate Army regularly sent in squads to look for these men, who became known as “bushwhackers.” I glared into the Thicket as I passed by and let me tell you…it is definitely thick!
On my ride I met up with a couple from Germany who had started from the Everglades in Florida and were on their way to San Diego. They were kind enough to mention some campsites to stay at in the upcoming towns. I decided not to tell them that I’ve been staying in motels. But, it got me wondering… Am I shortchanging my adventure by not camping out anymore? Motels are pretty cheap in these parts, so why not stay in one? Besides, by sleeping in a motel, I’m only missing out on gnats, no A/C, no TV, no lights after darkness…ok, that’s good enough for me. Ummm…yeah, I’ll keep my options open.
So, can someone tell me why dogs are so interested in bicyclists? Dogs (big and small) will come running out of peoples’ yards barking and chasing after me. Sometimes I get freaked out and pedal faster than I have all day just to get away. Other times I just don’t care that much…but, I’ve got my pepper spray handy to take care of the situation if it comes to that. I made it into Silsbee by early afternoon with time to relax. Tomorrow I enter the Bayou State (aka Cajun territory)…
Cumulative miles: 1,842.5
Started off a little sluggish again this morning. Gnats were pestering as well. I’d like to just add that the slight headwinds were not helpful either! Today’s journey took me through small towns with churches every 1 mile. No, but seriously…there are a lot of churches in these parts. In fact they even have local street signs posted on the road that say “Church,” so you’ll have no difficulty finding one. Once beyond some of these smaller towns, I entered Sam Houston National Forest. It was quite beautiful not to mention that the roads were very smooth and comfortable for riding. On my ride through the forest, within a half hour period, I met 3 solo cyclists (Hank, Aaron, and Steve…I think his name was Steve) headed West on the same route as me. Steve (we’ll just call him that) had started from Florida on 4/1. Wow! He was flying! Must be those darn tailwinds that I’m missing out on. Hank, who looked to be in his early 60s, had started on 3/28 and was making great time as well. He said he hadn’t taken a day off since he began. Man, do I feel like a slacker! Aaron actually started from his home town of New Orleans and is taking the route to Phoenix then going up to the Grand Canyon and over to San Francisco. They all gave me some helpful tips and assured me the toughest part was behind me. I wished them luck on the upcoming hills and mountains and was back on the road again.
After the forest, I made it into Coldspring. Another small town but one that’s big enough to have a grocery store and an open restaurant near by. I ate dinner at The Hop. A cute little 50s decorated diner. My dinner consisted of the necessary meats, vegetables and breads in the form of a delicious bacon cheeseburger with all the fixins plus fries. By the way, does no one out here like ketchup on their burgers?! Every where I’ve gone in Texas and ordered a burger, they always ask “Mustard and mayo?” What’s the dealio?? Ohhh…I also could not resist ordering a chocolate shake! Mmmmmm…mmmm! Tomorrow I go to Silsbee!
Cumulative miles: 1,774.5
Just as I was about to leave the motel this morning, I looked down at my front tire….Flat! What the …?! Brand new tires…first ride on them. Oh well…So, I got to it. Took the tire off and found the culprit. A nice little pebble lodged in my tire. After patching the tube and tire, I put the tire back on and was set to leave. Ok, only 30 minutes knocked off my schedule. No worries…
Once out on the road I felt lethargic and sluggish again. It was probably a combination of the headwinds, heavily loaded bike, and me still trying to adjust to riding again. I’m sure the rolling hills didn’t help as well. But, I continued on…Oh! Can I just say that I love the Subway buy one get one free…before 9am deal! Luckily there was one right next door to my motel, so I got 2 six inch subs this morning. Eating one of the subs at 10:00 helped deal with some of the muscle fatigue/aches. The other sub didn’t last beyond 11:10. After that, my legs were feeling a little better.
The drunken butterflies were out in full effect once again. Smashing into me from all angles and freaking me out. I really need to be careful, or my wussy reflexes are going to swerve me into oncoming traffic. Another annoyance of the day was a flock of gnats that seemed to follow me for several miles. When I would stop to grab a snack or drink from my bag, they would attack me! Little sh**s! I arrived in Navasota and google-mapped my motel only for it to take me somewhere other than where my motel is. Yay for getting lost! After asking the cashier at a Shell station for directions, I was finally at my motel.
All in all, not really one of my better days on the road. Originally, I was planning to do 127 miles tomorrow. Not sure why to be honest. But, based on the headwinds and sluggishness of today, I’ve decided against that and will be going to Coldspring, which is about 68 miles. Now that’s more doable!
Cumulative miles: 1,701.5
Austin…Wow! Austin definitely showed me a good time and how it maintains its weirdness. After 3 days of not riding I was ready to hit the road again. I managed to take my bike to a shop while in Austin, so I’m all set with some new (thornless) tires, a tune-up, and new fenders (I mangled the front fender coming in to Austin when my foot kicked it on a really tight slow turn). I headed out around 8:30 this morning. My bike seemed super heavy to me. I was hoping I would get used to it soon because I felt like my mph was on the low end at the start of my ride. Heading from my motel, I rode through downtown on my way out and said goodbye one last time to Austin. Perhaps I could live there one day…
It took quite some time to get out of the Austin area, and it had nothing to do with the fact that I got slightly lost (I swear!!) Once beyond Austin, I entered Bastrop State Park. Back in September of last year about 96% of the park was burned in a fire. Only around 100 acres were saved. I couldn’t see any of those 100 acres on my ride. The ground all around was scorched. As I was riding through the park, it started to rain, so I put on my fluorescent yellow, day-glo wind and waterproof jacket. It has no vents and all the seems are completely sealed. Needless to say, after removing the jacket, my clothes underneath were probably more soaked than if I hadn’t worn the jacket…The sun eventually poked out as I rolled into La Grange, a small town of about 5,000. My legs were feeling the 83 mile ride especially with the 3 days off. Now it was time to grab some dinner and rest up for tomorrow. In a few days I hope to be in Louisiana!
Cumulative miles: 1,618.5
Rested, relaxed, and enjoyed Austin. What a town! Lots of food, drinks and fun! I WILL be back!
Cumulative miles: 1,618.5
I woke up excited for my ride into Austin. Who am I kidding?! I was ecstatic! As I was walking out of my motel room, I ran into a man in his early 60s who was also cycling across the country’s and on his way to Austin. However…his wife was following him the entire way in a car. Wow! Now that’s devotion to your man! Apparently, he’s done two other tours like this before - the Northern tier and the TransAmerican trail. Can’t imagine how bored his poor wife must get!
So, then I was off! The rolling hills were no problem heading into Austin. Perhaps I was just getting used to them. The closer to Austin I got, the more excited I became! Traffic became more and more congested. Then I saw downtown! Tall buildings all around me. I was staring at them as if I had never seen one before. I was far from the desert, far from the flat sand dunes. I was back in civilization again! Yes!! Once settled into my motel, I called my friend Evan who lives in downtown Austin. We met up at a bar called Little Woodrow’s, and he took me to some other bars in the downtown area. It was an awesome night filled with drinks, food, live music, and laughter! Can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow! I’ll be taking some time off here and heading back out on the open road Monday morning. Until then, I will be exploring Austin…
Cumulative miles: 1,551.5
I left a little later this morning as the ride wasn’t going to be as unpredictable with large, steep hills. However, I was still in hill country! So, yes, there were more never ending hills! My map showed a gradual decent with some hills in between. But…every time I got to the top of one hill, it seemed there was another hill of equal or larger size ahead!
One thing that I’ve noticed about Texans is just how gosh darn friendly they are! Seriously! They don’t even know you, and they wave to you as you ride your bike through their community. You can’t help but wave back. It’s contagious. I’ve even started waving at everyone. Texans have also been so willing to help. For instance, as I was pulled over on the side of the road today, bending over my bike going through my bags to find some snacks, an elderly gentleman drives up across the street from me in his golf cart and asks if I had “broken down.” I told him I was just grabbing some food, and he said he was going to lend me some tools if I needed them. How cool is that?! Also today, another guy passed me in his working truck as I was climbing through the hills then stopped and asked if I was ok on water. Amazingly kind people!
I made it into Blanco by about 3:00. After resting and showering up for a bit, I hit up the local Italian pizzeria for some pasta. Mmmmmm! Delicioso!
Sooo…this is the part where I tell you I’ll be riding to Austin tomorrow!! I’m so excited! I’ll be taking some time off to check out the city, go to a bike shop for some needed bike adjustments, as well as some other shenanigans. Can’t wait!!