At the crack of dawn, before any of the business were set to open, I packed up my tent and biked out of the woods in search for a bathroom, some coffee and food.
My first time at a Bojangles was this morning. I filled my belly, flushed their toilet, charged my phone and searched for my route for the day.
It was now pushing 48 hours since I had showered and washed the clothes I was sitting in so I’m sure I stank. The only campsite I could find was a bit off the East Coast Greenway route and more inland, but I was ready for a place to shower and clean up.
It was going to be close to 50 miles total, and it was very humid out. I had to stop multiple times to grab some shade and cool off.
As I rode down US 17, I saw a sign for a library. So I decided to stop in for some AC, fill my water, and pretend to work on the computer.
Right when I entered and asked for a computer, one of the librarians, Karen, said “Hey, aren’t you that bike rider?!”. This surprised me and I said, “I’m not sure about the bike rider, but I am riding my bike to Canada”.
We started talking and then she came out with two baggies – one full of fruit and the other full of cookies. This lady is an angel, I thought.
It gets better, though! She then asks me where I was staying and headed tomorrow. I told her about the campsite, and she says, “well, you can stay at my place if you want, I love to talk and would love the company.”
So for the first time, I had actually booked the campsite and now I was regretting it. I quickly called the campsite and they were able to cancel the booking but charged me a $10 cancel fee. This was rediculous as it had only been a couple hours since I made the booking but whatever, I still got roughly $30 back.
I made sure my wife knew this wasn’t a young hot blonde librarian, but rather just a sweet and very kind lady about the same age as my mum. I then took Karen up on her offer, she took a break from work, drove me a couple miles down the rode to her house, opened her beer fridge to me and said, “I’ll be back just after 6, make yourself at home!”
I couldn’t believe it. She let me in and around her house for roughly 5 hours while she finished work. She lived alone as her husband had died a few years ago, but had a beautiful pup, Jack, and two cats. Karen did tell me she had a gun and asked if I had one – to which of course my answer was no. I think this was her way of saying not to mess with her.
Luckily she wasn’t there to kidnap me, but rather be so generous and kind to open her house to me and even feed me a home cooked meal.
Once she got home from work, we sat, had a drink, and talked for an hour. It was great hearing about her family and her story. She then treated me to a delicious pork dinner with all the fixings and some icecream with blueberries for dessert.
Woke up from a great night’s sleep to some freshly made coffee, waffles, bacon, and fruit.
She drove me and my bike back to the library where I had originally stopped biking the day before. I met her friend Anne, hugged and thanked Karen for her generosity, and started what ended up to be a very tough, long day.
The day started out fine as I rode through the middle of nowhere. Hardly any cars for miles, all shaded back country until I hit US 17 again.
So getting onto US 17 there wasn’t terrible because there was still a shoulder, just tons of cars and trucks blowing by.
Now big trucks passing right by are a love hate relationship. I hate it because of the obvious safety reasons, but I also love it because they bring with them a great after wind draft. This allows me to either gain some speed or take a quick pedal break.
After 15 or so miles, after the small town of Jacksonboro (which I stopped real quick at a gas station and talked with a 77 year old about biking) the highway had no more shoulder at all.
It brought me back to living with my buddy Daniel Peedin and we would ride our bikes and try to balance on curbs as long as possible. Now that skill had me trying to balance the white line on the rode while cars and semi’s tried to blow and push me off.
Not long went by before I had decided it was not safe at all trying to ride that white line with cars and semi’s barrelling by at 60+ mph. I ended up riding slowly on the grassy edge of the highway hitting all sorts of bumps, ruts, weeds and debris. I thought for sure I was going to get a flat tire.
This went on for miles and miles until I thought I found a side road that would save me. I crossed the highway, found the road, but about a half mile down the road the pavement ended and it turned to sand. Sand so soft I could no longer ride on it with my skinny tires and heavy load.
I weighed my options and decided to walk my bike through the sand. This road lasted a little over a mile! Looking back on it, I think the grassy edge of the highway would have been better. I was dying in the heat and humidity while trying to drag my 70+ pound bike through the sand.
After that mile it turned back to pavement, but didn’t last long before it brought me right back to the dreaded US 17.
The frustrating 9 miles from there to my campsite took far longer than it should have, but I had finally made it!
I set up camp, took a shower, and walked out to thunder and rain. I ran back over to my tent, threw on the rain cover and sat in there for the next 4 hours. There was a severe thunderstorm that passed by drenching my tent and the dirt beneath.
Around 9pm, the rain let up a little and I was able to get out, start my stove and make some soup before again passing out to more tapping of rain against my tent.
A new addition to my sleeping set up that came in clutch for tonight and the rest of my trip is Dani left me with a blow up pillow! Before I was using two packing cubes full of my clothes wrapped by one of my shirts, but this was so much better and more comfortable!