Wednesday June 4, 2008

Georgia and Florida, manmade


More photos from the trip, this time hopefully in contrast to the previous “nature” shots. To answer some of the practical questions I’ve been getting: I took the train up to Savannah last Friday. Upon getting to the train station at 8 pm (just as the sun was setting) I had to put my bike back together (it was boxed for the trip) and search for a camping spot for the night. I began pedaling the next morning, and arrived back in Miami the next Sunday. That’s nine days on the bike, including three night stays in motels and five nights of camping. My speedometer was once again on the fritz during this trip, but my daily mileage averaged over 80 miles, with at least a couple of 100 mile days. Other then an almost-constant headwind, the weather was cooperative, with no rain to speak of, and comfortable days and cool nights (at least until the last few days in South Florida, where the sun laughed at my SPF 30 and cooked me to a crisp).

As a bicycle tourist, I was able to tap into an abundance of goodwill from motorists, truckers, pedestrians, convenience store clerks, waitresses, other cyclists, bike shop workers, park rangers, law enforcement officials, and just plain everyone I ran across. There is a whole taxonomy of friendly waves that I discovered which unfortunately I cannot express in a text format (but ask me if you run into me).

One story I can share is the thing about the dogs. Folks in rural Georgia sometimes have loose dogs hanging around outside their homes, and a cyclists is exactly what these dogs love to chase. In fact, for the first few days of the trip, I’d be chased by dogs several times a day. Usually, a little adrenaline would kick in and I’d hustle a bit and soon pass out of the dogs’ territory, at which point they quickly give up chase. Two occasions stand out. Once, two dogs ran after me and straight into the path of an oncoming minivan, which came to a screeching (and honking) halt, within a hair’s breath of death. The other time, two good sized dogs saw me coming, and ran out to meet me, barking, growling, and blocking my path of escape. I got off the bike and tried to use it as a shield between myself and the animals, but they wisely spilt, each circling me from one side. I fended them off for a bit by yelling and squirting my water bottle in a wide arc, and walked down the left side of the road, my bike a sort of shield. They escorted me, and whenever they got too close I again squirted water and yelled at them (my yelling got gradually friendlier as the threat seemed to subside). Once I was passed their territory I was allowed to get back on my bike and ride on.

So. Anyway, here’s the slideshow of photos of man-made stuff from the trip.

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  1. jrh517    Wed Jun 4, 11:14 PM #  

    Really great pictures. Looks like you saw a lot of interesting sights. The images make me want to explore Florida.

  2. Alex    Wed Jun 4, 11:19 PM #  

    Dogs: Pepper spray! 80 miles: Wow.

  3. Puppies plump when you cook'em    Thu Jun 5, 12:10 AM #  

    Dogs…donate them to PF Changs :)
    Before the PETA Nazis go in flames!

  4. Biscayne Bystander    Thu Jun 5, 07:42 AM #  

    Welcome back.

    You should have thrown some meat to the dogs. Its no less worth telling for doing so.

  5. Martin    Thu Jun 5, 08:54 AM #  

    Beautiful pictures. How safe did you feel on the roads? I think this type of trip would appeal to a lot of people, but the thought of dodging 65 mph suv’s is definitely a deterrent. Or am I just jaded from dodging Miami traffic?

    Thanks for supplying the adventure cycling link it looks like they have a lot of good routes to explore. Hopefully, some day I’ll be brave enough to explore one.

  6. Liz    Thu Jun 5, 10:00 AM #  

    Weren’t you thanking God for your white skin the whole ride down? I drove down alone from NY and went to visit my cousin in Charelston. I decided to take the “scenic route,” through S.C., I think it’s Rte 17, anyway, the whole time I was praying my hair and skin would lighten.
    That dog story was hilarious. I think… no, I KNOW I would have sh-t myself, on the spot; you’re a freaking trooper. I’m glad you made it home alive!

  7. alesh    Thu Jun 5, 01:55 PM #  

    Alex~ The thing about the pepper spray is what reaction you get from dog owners after you’ve maced their dogs. It might have been good to have as a last resort, but the water worked pretty well. Just required repeated applications :-)

    Martin~ The ACA routes take you through the route that best balances scenic interest with bike-friendliness. Through Georgia I was very impressed by how little traffic there was, so much so that in almost all cases passing cars and trucks moved completely over into the oncoming lane when passing me. Easy. A1A through Florida is a bit different, but even there there are lots of bike lanes and nice shoulders for most of the way.

    Liz~ Yeah… everyone was very friendly, and most of Georgia is very integrated and everyone seems to get along, but the confederate flag makes all-too-often appearances in some areas. It’s a cause for concern. I actually decided on this as the safer alternative to the Tallahassee/Miami (via Gainesville) route I’d originally imagined because of frequent warnings about dangerous rednecks in Florida. My brother says they’ve got the KKK up there, and people have been hacked to death while camping in the woods. Yikes!!

  8. Miguel Marcos    Fri Jun 6, 02:57 AM #  

    Some of those places bring back memories of growing up in central FL, like the train station, the church.

    How was the camping?

  9. FerfeLaBat    Fri Jun 13, 09:35 PM #  

    Very cool photos! It sounds like you had a great trip. Did you ever get BBQ?

  10. Johnny R.    Mon Jun 16, 11:35 AM #  

    Great photos…I think I might have to plan a trip like this one day. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Onajide    Wed Jun 18, 12:40 PM #  

    Sorry to have taken so long to comment on your trip but, fantastic pics. They remind me of my own travels along Florida’s east coast, not all of it by bike but, about half way.

  12. M.M.    Fri Jun 27, 03:05 PM #  

    100 miles a day? Not bad. I’d like to bike some areas too. The difference is that I’d like to head up to like D.C. or even NYC. That would take more than a week. And I would try to stay at a motel or a hostel.