Bicycle Journey Progress

The journey begins on July 29th and ends on September 11th, 2023

Ride Progress: ABOUT TO START!
Daily summaries:

sábado, 21 de abril de 2012

Summary of days 14 and 15

Day 14 – 04/16/2012 – Vestavia Hills, AL

This was a quite memorable day. To begin with, for the first time we woke up with rain over our tents. We had breakfast, organized the panniers and, by the time we were ready to disassemble the tents the rain had stopped. Packing all the camping materials wet was messy, but there was no good way to clean it up and dry it properly, so we packed and moved on.

We started riding with the goal to reach Vestavia Hills before nightfall. Being about 60 miles away from it and knowing the elevation would get pretty intense the closer we get to the Birmingham metro area made this a very ambitious goal. Because of that we tried to save some time cutting down the miles to be covered by getting into interstate 20 again. That had worked for us in the previous two days, and with so much ahead of us in the end of the course we didn’t want to take any back roads that could slow us down considerably. Besides, the path suggested by the GPS was full of detours and much longer than going through the interstate.

However, as soon as we got into the interstate entrance a police car stopped and told us to head back to where we came from. Knowing bicycles were not allowed in the interstate we didn’t argue and returned to our original path. Now we had to run. The path through the back roads we long.

That’s when we decided to check the radar one more time. We noticed rain was coming in two big waves: the smaller one was about 2 hours away from us. The next one should hit us by night time. We then decided to cover as many miles as possible without stopping much to rest before the arrival of the first rain. We pedaled for over two hours with almost no rest and no water. When we finally arrived in Pell city, the rain was too close. We entered a restaurant to eat something and rest. By the time we got out, the rain was starting. We then crossed the street and had some coffee while the strong rain was pouring outside. For about 20 minutes we rested, had coffee and updated the blog using the smartphone.

Then we dressed up with rain coats and, as soon as the rain diminished, we were on our way. Following the GPS’s calculated path, we moved away from the interstate and started riding on some small, isolated back roads. After a few turns we entered a road full of puppy mills. That was a sad place: the old cages, the damaged dogs. But unfortunately for us seeing those horrible places was not the worst part. That street was full of big dogs of all kinds running free. At some point we were chased by one Fila, two Boxers and one German shepherd all at once. The dogs would come out of obscure houses and run after us down the road, some getting fairly close to us. The streets were full of hills, but up to this point we had not been chased going upward. A few minutes later I was a little ahead of my uncle on the road, going up a steep hill, when a group of German shepherds heard us and ran straight at me. I was circled by the dogs which were barking and threatening to jump at any time. I screamed “help us!” in the hope the owners would hear and come to our aid. Thankfully they did. The owners called the dogs back home and we kept moving forward. After some more dog attacks we finally went out of that zone and back to regular roads.

Just as we forecasted, as we approached Vestavia Hills, the elevation got harder and harder to ride on. We had to go down our bikes and walk them up hill a few times, so steep and long they were. By 8:00pm the sun was pretty much gone and we still had 15 miles to go. To make things worse, the second wave of rain clouds was above us and we started feeling a few drops here and there. We put our rain coats again, and moved forward. In a matter of minutes it was totally dark, the temperature dropped significantly and the thin rain transformed into a heavy storm. We kept moving forward despite of the low visibility and difficulty to ride on those hills. We had no option, my uncle Edison and his wide Marisa were waiting for us and we didn’t want to arrive too late. In a few minutes I was shivering and I could barely feel my hands. I’m not sure why, but on every move with my arms would feel electric shocks going down my wrists and fingers, and my uncle said to be feeling he same. Probably a result of the cold air, chilly water and the position we had to maintain while riding the bicycles for so long.

We stopped a few times in the heavy rain to check the GPS. My uncle would raise his rain coat to make a small roof and I would dry my hands on a small towel and check our way underneath his cover. We kept following the directions through the dark streets of old neighborhoods. The intersections had large stone walls, like if the streets were guarded by gates. At one point we entered Cherokee Road, which was a thin path in the middle of dense woods with absolutely no public lights. Our flash lights were all we had to go forward, and the remaining miles seemed to go slower and slower the colder we got.

That’s when something special happened. I looked forward to that dark street surrounded by big oak trees and suddenly I realized how incredible that moment was. I knew then that I had to soak in every second of it as this would be one of the moments I would remember for the rest of my life. I stopped paying attention to the rain, to the cold and to the dangerous path we were in and observed everything that was going on with a great level of appreciation. I felt as alive as I can describe and that was priceless.

Unfortunately the moment was over, we reached the next corner and I was shivering again. We finally reached a busy highway that would lead us close to where we needed to go. We decided to go through it despite of the heavy traffic to shorten our path. Once we reached my uncle’s street there was one last surprise: a long, very long hill that extended for over a mile. We went down our bikes and walked it up the hill, barely feeling our arms and legs.

When we finally arrived to his home it was already past 9:30pm. They were waiting for us. We entered and went straight to take a warm shower, followed by a very nice dinner. We talked for a little while and then retied to sleep.

This was up to this point and at least in respect to the physical aspect of it one of the most difficult days in my life. But it was also a very memorable day which helped me see things in a different perspective; and that what this journey is all about.

Day 15 – 04/17/2012 – Resting Day – Vestavia Hills, AL

That was such a nice day. We were the whole day resting really. We woke up late and then had breakfast. I used some time to write about things that I wanted to share on the blog such as our daily routine during the trip, our diet, and other topics.  We then took my uncle’s car and went to Walmart, where I had a consultation with the optometrist in order to buy contact lenses: up to this point I had been riding with glasses. My prescription was expired and I had forgotten my lenses in Brazil. So, after the consultation and with the two sample pairs he had given me we headed back home. Uncle Edison and aunt Marisa arrived not too long after that and he decided to cook something for us.

In the previous days I had been in touch with a dear friend of mine called Charles. We had worked together at Idera for about 4 years back when I was leaving in Houston, TX, and now he was living in Vestavia Hills. My uncle suggested I invite him for dinner, and so I did. He came and we had a great time. It is always good to reencounter good friends. The conversation over dinner was very interesting. We had coffee and then he left.

 That day we went to sleep late, and I stayed in the kitchen writing in the blog about previous experiences I wanted to detail. I went to sleep around 2:30 am, but couldn’t fall asleep for a long time.