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Day 61 to Saraland, AL to Pensacola, FL 67 Miles (3764 total miles)

Good day today. Few more hills than I expected east of Mobile but not bad.

I was a bit concerned about getting through Mobile. Biggest city so far I think. Couple big bridges to cross. No clue what shoulder would be like. Sketchy weather. Other than that, I had it totally under control.

Kind of certain this is is Tombigbee River emptying into Mobile Bay. First glimpse of big water out to left.

The forecast was for on and off thunderstorms for the day. Another day of racing thunderstorms.

I got out of Mobile with no problem. Good shoulders even on the bridges.

Got rained on just a bit in Mobile. Got fortunate at my lunch stop halfway through. Poured right after I stopped until just before I was ready to restart.

Not quite so fortunate a bit later. Major downpour for 30 minutes. Pedaled for half of it. Miserable. Really difficult to see and those tiny drops sting at 18mph! Finally found a volunteer fire house with an awning. Gerty and I just watched it rain.

40 years ago I graduated from Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola and was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy. Lots of good memories from this area.

I have a plan for Tropical Storm Fred. Gonna get past Tallahassee by Sunday eve. That will put me a bit inland when the storm is supposed to reach there…allegedly.

1400 miles and 22 days ago I was in Dyersville, IA at Field of Dreams. Hope you got to see some of last nights game there. Awesome setting.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 60 Jackson to Saraland, AL 61 Miles (3697 total miles)

Pretty easy ride today. At least the majority of the day.

Headed to Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico so mostly downhill. Fast cruising. Averaged almost 16mph for the day.

Stopped in Calvert for lunch at the Webb Cafe. I was the first of lunch crowd at 10:30. The place was packed an hour later when I was leaving.

They love their catfish around here. Cafe served fish tacos…made with catfish. I didn’t try but they were selling lots of catfish!

This is the Tombigbee River. Crossed it the other day with Chad. Flows through AL to Mobile Bay. It used to have a plethora of fresh water mussel species until humans screwed that up with dams and rerouting of the waterway.

I spent the last 10 miles of the day trying to outrun a thunderstorm. I lost. Got poured on for last half hour with lightning all around. Not fun at all.

I’ll be in FL tomorrow. Before you get too excited about that, please realize I’ll be in FL for about 900 miles. That’s more miles than I was in MT!!

Tropical storm Fred could dampen my plans. Literally dampen. I plan on taking the coastal route across the panhandle. If you know anyone in that area, have them on standby in case I need an extraction.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 59 Thomasville to Jackson, AL 33 miles (3636 total miles)

Pretty uneventful day here in southern AL. I guess that’s good.

Only pedaled for about 2 hours today. Pretty much a rest day. Good thing because “feels like” temperature was 109. 97 and humid

Road today had a shoulder and fewer logging trucks. Good tip last night!

I’m about 120 miles from Pensacola, FL. Hoping to be staying there Thursday night. Planning on stopping just north of Mobile tomorrow.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 58 Livingston to Thomasville, AL 66 miles (3603 total miles)

Today was tough. I knew as soon as I got up that was going to be the case. My legs were really tired. I was in Paducah, KY a week and nearly 500 miles ago. Guessing that may be the reason.

Thought about a 0 day but I was basically at a truck stop. Kind of boring. Town 37 miles up ahead with a motel. I can do that.

I almost never read reviews for motels…unless the ratings are really low. This place sounded horrific…and I’ve stayed in some below average places. Reviews grossed me out. That’s bad. Not an option.

Next motel…Thomasville. I can probably do that. After the fact…put barely between probably and do.

It was hot and humid, rained for a half hour, headwind, and logging trucks galore…with little to no shoulder. And those aren’t the reasons it was tough.

I had no mojo and knew it as soon as I got out of bed. Everything else just made it worse.

The day began with me leaving helmet in motel. Something felt weird after a couple hundred yards. First time for that.

Lots more cattle than I expected in AL. Tried a nice closeup of a few but it was so humid and my fingers were so wet I couldn’t operate phone. There are some cows way out in this pic.

When it’s hot outside and I stop, air conditioning is not my friend. I am shivering if inside for more than 2 minutes. This was my lunch spot today.

Logging trucks are the worst. I’ve finally figured out their “language”. If they’re coming up behind me and lay on their horn, they’re not moving over. There’s only so far over I can go so…that’s kind of scary.

Worst event of entire journey happened today. Logger coming opposite direction passing a car. I had to get off the road! Went over deep rumble strips on shoulder so hard/fast that I bruised my palm. Luckily there was a relatively flat grass area on shoulder…that was really scary.

The last 20 miles was just physically draining and I really had not much left to drain. Took me forever to make it to Thomasville.

All ends good from there. Found the local pub and had a great time. The whole bar spent an hour telling me which roads I should take and which I should avoid. They probably know because they almost all work for paper mills (logging trucks).

When I tried to pay my bill (after dinner and 3 hours of Buds) Amber (manager) said there was no charge if I promised to stay off Hwy 84. OK!!

All’s well that ends well. Going to take it easy tomorrow. 35 miles or so. Should be in FL Th.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 57 Columbus, MS to Livingston, AL 79 Miles (3537 total miles)

Back to back 79’s. If this was golf, I’d be ecstatic. Still pretty happy but much more tired than golf!

Chad Espeland rode with me the entire day. He not only rode, he did the navigating as well. Very relaxing for me. I just followed. Only had to pedal and keep Gerty upright. A nice mental break. Thanks, Chad!!

We’re in Alabama. Roll Gerty!!

Not really sure what was going on here. Either really tired, in a moment of prayer, thinking about jumping off bridge, or all of the above.

This is the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Links Tennessee River to Gulf of Mexico. The TN River is really big. I’d never even really heard of it before except in an Alabama song.

We finished pedaling by about 3PM. Chad’s wife, Margaret, was there to meet us. It was fun to meet her…plus she brought some beer along!

After 300 miles last 4 days, I probably need to slow my roll a bit. Couple long stretches before FL. Going to have to figure out how to break that up. There are lots of really small towns (i.e. no lodging).

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 56 Fulton to Columbus, MS 79 Miles (3458 total miles)

Gerty was ready to roll today…after I picked up some chain oil at WalMart.

So the packaging says I should be oiling the chain every 50-100 miles. Yeah, I haven’t been doing that. More like 500-1000 miles. Could be why chain is stretched but I’m assuming the 50-100 mile thing is “aggressive” marketing.

The hills are moderating each day as I get closer to the coast. Turning to more like giant speed bumps. Pace is much more consistent…and faster.

Got chased by 4 dogs today. Fortunately none on uphills. Very scary, though. They charge like they’re going to T-Bone you. That would be bad. It’s dangerous for me and also the dog. Sometimes they’re crossing the road to chase.

I like other peoples dogs’ but have to say the majority of “scary” incidents on my adventures involve dogs. If you can’t control them, you shouldn’t have them.

I have been looking forward to seeing cotton fields for many, many corn fields. Have to be in the right geographical area. Is this cotton?

There’s lots of whatever this is. I’m guessing it’s cotton but no agronomical clue.

A couple days ago I received a message from a friend in our community in FL. George Mikes was concerned about my hydration. Particularly my Budweiser levels. He wanted to buy me dinner and a few Buds. How nice is that.

I took him up on that offer tonight. The server called George after many Buds and dinner. He paid via credit card. It was actually quite comical. Took a bit of time to explain to server. Thanks, George!!

Tomorrow will be another ride of 80 miles or so. I’ll have a guest rider so that will make it easier.

Chad Espeland (another Bristol person…you’ve pretty much met everyone) put me up in a motel room tonight and is going to ride with me tomorrow. I kind of feel like I could be a professional freeloader!

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 55 Counce, TN to Fulton, MS 81 Miles (3379 total miles)

Progress. Big fan of progress.

We also got an ID of yesterday’s insect. A regal moth. Thanks, Karen Cropper!!

Miss…iss…ipp…i. Had to take this pic from a bit of distance. Little to no shoulder up there by the sign.

Lots of logging and, therefore, logging trucks last couple days. Probably the scariest thing on the road when they’re loaded. Move fast, rarely move over, and small debris flying off. I haven’t gotten hit by any debris (or trucks!) but there’s lots on the shoulders.

Spent about 10 miles on the Natchez Trace Parkway. No commercial traffic allowed. Very little traffic period. Pretty flat. Enjoyable ride.

You can tell when you’re getting close to a “big” town. More traffic. Houses closer together. Fast food remnants littering the ditches. There has been lots of trash in ditches for last 400 miles or so. What is wrong with people? No respect for their environment or other people.

If I was walking, I’d have picked up a ton of trash the past week.

There was slight chance of rain today. I felt a couple sprinkles while riding but shortly after I was finished there was a major downpour for over an hour. Lucked out on that one.

Some big gaps between lodging options next few days. Hoping to make another 80 miles tomorrow and then figure things out from there.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 54 Parsons to Counce TN 62 Miles (3298 total miles)

Today was another good day. A bit bigger and longer hills but not too bad.

I was near to Shiloh. Knew I was going to be close to Shiloh but didn’t realize I was going to be that close to Shiloh National Military Park until after the fact. Probably would have detoured for that.

Crossed the TN River a couple times because I kind of took my own route for half the day. Seeing the water is a nice change of pace.

What the heck is this? Looks like some lethal insect from deep in the Amazon.

Think last bike shop forgot to lube Getty’s chain. She’s starting to creak a little bit. Next bike shop not until Mobile, AL (480 miles). I haven’t carried any chain oil. Don’t want that leaking/spilling in bags. Gonna have to get some in next day or 2.

Will be in Mississippi tomorrow.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 53 Waverly to Parsons, TN 57 Miles (3236 total miles)

Nice ride today. Actually kind of enjoyable. Busy road but really wide shoulders. Comfortable temp. A bit of flat ground. I’d take it every day.

Got to use the aero bars a bit more today. Really only use when wide shoulder, fairly straight, and no shifting required. Kind of limits me!

I can pedal a pretty straight line unless going slow…which almost always involves a low gear (i.e. uphill). I am often pedaling right on the white lane line. With the aero bars, I’m still a bit shaky on that.

Crossed back over Kentucky Lake early AM. Thinking I may get to south end of it tomorrow. Really long lake (184 miles long).

I should really be brokering hay deals while I’m out here. I could probably get this guy $400/bale in MT. Not sure how profitable would be for him after my $50/bale and transportation but you never know.

Gotta make hay while the sun shines.

Physically feeling good. Aero bars aren’t a panacea for my hands but they help.

Mentally, I’m more than 2/3 finished. I should be in FL in 9 or 10 days. All is good tonight.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 52 Dover to Waverly, TN 46 Miles (3179 total miles)

I didn’t even think about the 100 mile option today. This (46 miles) was plenty. One of the tougher days of pedaling. Big, long hills. At least the weather was good.

I feel like I’m in the movie, Groundhog Day. The scenery is the same day after day. Hilly road with forests on either side. A few small variances but, for the most part, it’s been the same for a week.

It’s not that the scenery isn’t nice. I’m sure it would be very enjoyable in a motorized vehicle. On a bicycle it just gets very monotonous.

This is big deer hunting area. I’m seeing lots of deer crossing the road. The WiFi password at hotel is DeerHunt and they have deer coolers!

Tomorrow will be about 55 miles of riding. I’m going off the route and down the other side of the lake/river. Hoping for a bit different view. Probably not but at least I’ll cross some water.

Over the Appalachian Trail, Camino, and Sea2Key, I’ve totaled about 270 days of adventure. Today may have been the first day I didn’t take a single picture.

Below are a few highlight pics from the AT. It will at least give you something to look at! Plus, there are a few newbies who missed out on that!!

Ride on.

Just Pete