Day 13

September 17th, 2010

Alarm went off at 5:50am, so that we could get up and out of our motel as soon as possible to cover the 107 miles to Savannah before the heat would suck out all our drive and motivation.  The original plan had us doing another night of coastal camping between Charleston and Savannah, for two days of about 80 miles apiece.  Getting to the coast takes you significantly off the direct route between the two cities, so compressing those two days into one cuts the total distance considerably, but it would still be by far the longest effort of our trip.  In the middle of the day before, as the oppressive heat was sucking out our life force, I didn’t think it would be doable, but checking the route and weather after a relaxing evening, my confidence returned.  The main advantage would be that it would give us a whole day to actually see Savannah, and given how much good camping we’d done, I wouldn’t feel bad about missing another night.

The morning got off to a rough start for Dennis, as I stabbed him in the eye with my finger, when reflexively snatching to grab my tipping bike as I was attempting to hook up my headlight.  Luckily no serious harm was done, and after that, everything went very smoothly.  We broke the ride into 13-16 mile chunks, switching leading/drafting positions halfway through each chunk, and then breaking for drinks, food, stretching, and hand/butt relief between them.  We managed to cover the first 63 miles, a full day’s ride for a few other days on this trip, by 11am!

Those were the easy miles, even if it was glasses-fogging humid early in the morning.  In contrast, the next 44 to Savannah put us on butt-bruising I-95 frontage roads, turned us into the wind, and rained molten bits of the sun down upon us.  But when you know that you have 7 hours to cover the final 44 miles of a bike tour, and will have no riding to do the next day, the mental trickery to keep yourself moving is almost automatic. 

The final 14 mile stretch was the worst of all, as we returned to crazy US 17 traffic, on a narrow two lane road with hazy illusions for shoulders, and winds trying to prevent you from staying on that straight narrow line.  Hardly a recommended Adventure Cycling route!  But the truck drivers, trying to blast and frighten us off the road, had no idea who they were dealing with.  We’d already gone 100 miles, and nearly 1000 in 12 days, so it takes a bit more than jerk truck drivers to bother us. We pressed on doggedly, eventually coming to a twin of yesterday’s towering cable-stayed bridge that would take us into Georgia.  Mr. Talmadge didn’t put the same cycling facility into his bridge as Mr. Ravenel did, but it was more manageable than I’d feared.

As we crested the summit together, 107 miles in, and saw the downhill ahead with Savannah awaiting at the foot of the bridge, I had one of the best “end of tour” feelings I’ve had.  We’d made it, and I was especially happy for Dennis, who could feel that special emotion he missed on our last tour.  The roll down was glorious, and a fitting end to a pretty awesome bike tour.

We repeated the the brewpub-hotel strategy and got another place (the Inn at Ellis Square) that was very accommodating to us and our bicycles.  We meandered over to the brewpub, stopping for an appetizer drink off one of Savannah’s many squares.  This brewpub (Moon River) had much better beer, and very good food too, though surely anything would taste better after an epic tour-ending ride than it does the night before. 

So that brought an end to the riding portion of the trip, but there are still some (relaxing!) days to come before we return to the real world.

5 Responses to “Day 13”

  1. Steve M Says:

    Congrats on another trek completed! Enjoy the next couple of lazy fossil fuel powered days of you trip.

  2. Louise Gregie Says:

    Congratulations, Neil!!!! I was wondering if the heat of the day before or some bad beer caused you & Dennis to set today’s goal of riding 107 miles. I “viewed” the route from our 1997 Road Atlas and it didn’t look pretty. Amazing to read about how you both were committed to the plan and made it happen! Glad you and Dennis had the awesome thrill of crossing the Finish Line together…into Savannah. A novel ending for you but I know it’s one of the “highlights” of this tour. Of course, I’ll be back checking for tomorrow’s post.

  3. Jan Says:

    Congrats guys! Job well done…enjoy the relaxing remainder of your trip.

  4. Joel Says:

    Way to go guys. Another “impressive” journey completed!

  5. Swati Says:

    Yayyyy to another great bike tour!!! How you guys do these century plus rides while being loaded, I don’t know!! See you back soon!