We’ve now been riding for 6 days. For me the Road is the most important piece of the ride. It determines your comfort, effort, ease, scenery, fear, joy, dread, exhaustion, places to eat, sleep, and oh so much more as you will read. It is what we are closest to, for sometimes eight hours or more a day.
The roads we take are determined by Ramona. She uses bike, road, computer and any other kinds of information and any maps she can get her hands on, as to what’s safe, scenic, and gets us where we need to end up. It’s a job that takes her months to figure out, then she prints up the directions for each day. These are called daily route guides, and without them, we would be lost for most of each day.
So, here’s how it goes, we check our DRG, first direction from hotel. The first number tells you what you have for miles, the second how far to ride.
0.0 0.5 Follow SR17 turn LEFT on SR14
2.0 1.5 Cross Blubber Creek
10.0 8.0 Pickensville (Grocery, Restaurant, Service Station)
19.0 9.0 Enter Mississippi, Ride straight on SR69
…and we’re off. The conditions of the road is the first eye opener. Does it have a shoulder, how’s the traffic and it’s speed, of traffic, how careful are drivers toward bikes, is the road cement, chip seal, smooth, under construction, in bad need of repair, lined, rutted, or the latest; those buggers, rumble strips. All, determine if you’re going to have a lot of time to gawk around, looking at all that you are riding in, or if you’ll be watching behind you for cars, pot holes, ruts, or trying to stay off the rumble strips that are often in the middle or front edge of the shoulder. As you know, this can change on every turn.
Butterflies flit by, a cardinal darts across the road, a deer and her two babies peak out, then dart back into the woods. Not a good night for armadillos, two dead on the side of the road, but nature’s on the job; the turkey vultures back away to let me pass, before continuing their clean up. A dog gives chase. I’m a yell-er, “NO, GET HOME,” I scream. He gives up almost immediately. I unknowingly scare a herd of cattle’ many run, but a few stand and stare. “MOO!” I yell. Their glares say, “We’ve heard that a million times, and it’s still not funny.”
The views, through the valleys, hills, towns, farm lands. My favorite, a town. So much to see, houses, shops, people, children playing, people waving. An occasional car will come up beside, down goes their window, “Where you going, why, how far?” Always, “Be careful!,” ends our conversation.
The sky changes from clear to cloudy, overcast, hopefully, if there is thunder, it is in the distance, the sun continues its course across the sky, and before you know it, it is setting, making spectacular art across the sky.
57.0 1.5 US Alt 45, Motels LEFT on US 45.
Thanks for joining me as we travel into West Point, Mississippi.