Days Nine and Ten

As advertised, yesterday (Sunday) Ken, James and I had a rest day in Savannah, which none of us had previously seen. James and I wandered the old city center during the morning while Ken was tied up with business, and I did the same during the afternoon, solo, searching unsuccessfully for a nice I-left-you-with-my-puppy present for the Beloved Spouse. I’ll have to try again in another place.

I found the older center city sections of Savannah to be quite beautiful. Rather than explaining why, I am attaching some pictures I took at the bottom of this post. Most were taken in the little pocket parks that appear every other block on the main streets; the last one looks down one of the residential streets. Glad we tarried there.

Late yesterday afternoon Ken spent some time showing James and me how he’s been designing the routes and importing the resulting turn by turn directions into his on-bicycle Garmin device. We knew that he would be leaving us after Charleston, and I had been putting off taking ownership of the mapping function because, as my mother used to say, a ship can have only one captain (or analogously in this case, navigator).

Ken is returning to New York first thing tomorrow. His presence on the first ten days of this adventure – like Tom’s on the first day – helped me both physically and psychologically; his absence will radically change the feel of the trip. Entirely apart from prospectively missing his companionship, the dynamics of solo riding are different.

Gone is the need to and benefit of coordinating pace with another. Drafting provides huge advantages in terms of energy conservation, and trading off the lead with another helps the time fly by; with luck those benefits are replaced by a Zen-like comfortable solitude. We’ll see.

In any event, I will be going solo at least until Baltimore, when James’s dad may join for a day. Thereafter, others are likely to join. Thus, I may only be alone on the road for the six or seven days, beginning now. Maybe.

Today’s ride:

The route from Savannah to Charleston was longer than we had expected it to be when we decided over a dinner table in Melbourne, Florida to take four days to get to Savannah rather than three because we had become convinced based on an online rider route review that the route from Savannah to Charleston would only be 106 miles. The distance we traveled today was 128 miles, meaning more than another hour longer on the road. All our mapping programs, and even online reviews, still regularly mislead. Indeed, even though Ken had painstakingly shown me how to design a route on Strava, then import it into my Garmin, and he had done the exact same thing re today’s planned course, it turned out en route that our Garmins were regularly disagreeing with each other. These disagreements led to confusion for us and ultimately lengthened the ride. Had we not had a daylong tailwind, the distance would have exhausted us terribly.

We had left Savannah too early to be able to find breakfast at or near the hotel, and to our surprise didn’t pass any open restaurants in the six or eight miles it took us to ride out of town. Then once we crossed a river we found ourselves (entering South Carolina) via a desolately beautiful and essentially uninhabited portion of the Low Country. The first available food we found, about 90 minutes into the ride, was a food truck and gas station/convenience store run by a family of Mexican immigrants. In the 20 minutes or so that it took us to order and eat our breakfasts, maybe twenty others stooped to eat or buy something else, none of them Anglos. The food was good and the daughter of the family, who took our orders only in English, charming.

A happy guy

The ride was alternately spectacularly beautiful – with endless low country vistas – and not – when Route 17, on which we again spent much of the day, was just a busy highway (albeit with a safe shoulder) enclosed by unbroken woods. The woods may in fact have been quite interesting (when we stopped for five minutes to give my burning feet a break, we noticed that beneath the forest was a watery, bright green damp that was neither swamp nor solid ground), but usually we were far too busy watching the road to notice.

A couple of Low Country pictures:

The Low Country/Ken
The Low Country2/Ken

I was acting distinctly grumpy about the conflicting route instructions we were seeing on our Garmins, and the resulting delays and longer ride, when we stopped for a quick bite at a fast food place near Parris Island (where the Marines have an important base) when I received the happy news via an email from a friend that a mutual friend who had just undergone emergency surgery has come through it well. He might even be able to greet us when we get to Maine (where he lives). That sort of news will cure irritability every time.

Ken and I rolled up to our hotel in Charleston at 4:05 – virtually exactly when I had guessed we might to the friend of mine of many years – Elizabeth – whom we hoped and expected to see in Charleston. And so we did: she warm-heartedly treated the three of us tired travelers to a delicious dinner and a personally guided walking tour of her city.

All in all, a great day; tomorrow starts a different journey.

M.H. Johnston

Savannah pictures:

James in Forsyth Park
The Telfair Museum
Another Pocket Park
A beautiful street

Day Ten’s stats:
Note that I forgot to turn my Garmin back on after a food break, losing seven miles of data. Oops.

3 comments to Days Nine and Ten

  • KH  says:

    Thank you Mark for being such a great organizer of a huge adventure. You possess unique and wonderful talents, and not only are a fun and fast riding partner, but more importantly a terrific friend. .Looking forward to now reading (albeit not riding) the posts of the days ahead.. Ken

  • Eric  says:

    Savannah is beautiful. Great place to spend a day.

  • Bill  says:

    Great travelogue. The Garmin data is very interesting. Calories expended, 7421! Wow. Next time we see you, you’ll just be lungs with legs.

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