Bicycle Journey Progress

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

Ride Progress: ABOUT TO START!
Daily summaries:

terça-feira, 24 de abril de 2012

Summary of days 16, 17 and 18

Day 16 – 04/18/2012 – Jasper, AL

This was a somewhat uneventful day, which when it comes to bicycle touring is not necessarily a bad thing: no dogs chasing us, no thunderstorms, no riding at night. This was a very pleasant day. We woke up and had coffee in my uncle’s house. Then we prepared the panniers and left around 10:30am. We were preparing ourselves for a very hard day due to the elevation in the Birmingham area, but to our surprise the elevation was not too intense. We rode about 10 miles and then stopped to have lunch at a Subway. Then we rode easily 10 more and stopped for coffee. The next 10 miles were also not too hard. Our rhythm was good and our average speed remained in almost 10mph pretty much all the way. We had several courses downhill, which helped too.

Due to our concern with the elevation we planned to stay in a city just 47 miles away called Jasper. We also decided not to follow Google’s suggested bicycle route, but instead took a shortcut by riding on an old highway called Old US 7 Highway that went straight to where we wanted to go. The traffic we not too intense and the shoulders on that road were wide, enabling us to ride without much trouble. Not too far from Jasper we passed in front of a Walmart, so we decided to stop and buy frozen food for later that night. We also bought bread, eggs and cheese for the next day’s breakfast.

 We arrived at the hotel, left our bags in the room and went out to get orange juice. When we got back we called Brazil and spoke to my grandmother, my niece and my mother. Then we had dinner, showered, updated the blog and went to sleep.

Day 17 – 04/19/2012 – Hamilton, AL

This day we had a nice time riding. For the first time since the beginning of our trip we left our origin point without knowing our destination. All we knew was that we were headed to Memphis, TN. So we got into the road leading there and started riding.

Unfortunately I hadn’t slept well in the previous night and was feeling very tired. Riding was not as pleasant as it could be and every mile seemed much longer than usual. After about one hour and forty five minutes riding we arrived in a small city called Carbon Hill. The city’s population really seemed to work around the coal industry. We stopped at a place called Jack’s to eat something and drink some coffee, and through the window I could see a pickup truck with a sticker in the back window that read “If you don’t like coal, don’t use electricity.”. I guess no one introduced this person to a hydroelectric, wind or solar-based generators.

After eating and resting we checked the GPS and decided to go to a city 39 miles ahead called Hamilton. That would sum up about 55 miles for the day, pretty much what we were aiming to. And so we went. After 10 more miles my uncle decided to buy some water, so we stopped. I started chatting with a truck driver that seemed very curious about our trip. After a few minutes chatting, he told us about a place called Natural Bridge. He said it was beautiful and we should stop by. The place was not in our original route, with a different one we could pass there and get to Hamilton with just 3 extra miles, so we decided to go without knowing what to expect.

Upon arrival, we entered the wrong road and got lost for a few minutes. We asked for information and finally found the entrance to the so called Natural Bridge. It was a large metal gate. Following through, a nice path led us into the woods. After about half mile we found a reception with a gift shop, and a nice old couple. He was 80, she was 79. They were very interested in our trip, and after a few minutes we paid the fee to get in, parked our bikes and walked in the park. At our right, we saw a stone with resembled very closely an Indian face. That was indeed how they called the place. A few meters ahead we stumbled into something unexpected: a gigantic arch that had been carved over the course of millions of years by a small river that used to pass underneath it. The so called natural bridge was indeed a bridge which had been formed naturally more than 200 million years ago. The view was incredible and we stopped for several minutes to observe and soak in the atmosphere of the place. We then took several pictures, walk around the place and examined its walls closely.

On our way out we started talking to the old lady that, together with her husband, took care of the entire place. Her name was Barbara. She told me they had been married for 59 years. She had graduated in high school in 1952. She told me about her family, and how they used to use natural medicine to treat diseases. She also talked about all the different plants common to that region, what they could be used for, etc.

After about 30 minutes chatting we said good bye and went back to the road. We still had 24 miles to go, and at 6:00 pm the chances of getting night before arrival were big. So we rode as fast as we could, and by 8:00 pm we arrived. We stopped by a supermarket to get food and juices, and headed to our hotel.

Day 18 – 04/20/2012 – Tupelo, MS

The ride was very intense. We left our hotel somewhat late and decided to make the first 25 miles to Fulton as quick as we could, then rest there and follow to Tupelo. Not too long after we left the hotel we passed over an old bridge. The path then led us to the border to Alabama and Mississippi, which we crossed without even noticing: the road we were in was so small there wasn’t even a state division sign.

Upon arrival in Fulton we stopped to eat at a Subway, and then went out looking for a coffee shop. We found one just before the intersection we had to turn on, drunk some nice coffee and followed through. There was no easy legal way to cross the Tenn Tem waterway, which pretty much divides the north part of Mississippi in two. The only path suitable for bicycles was about 17 miles south, and we didn’t really want to take such a detour. We then decided to go through the interstate road, which is not allowed for bicycles. Thankfully no police cars passed by us and we completed the crossing without trouble.

We then pedaled in a very intense rhythm and arrived in Tupelo around 6:45pm, which is quiet early considering the distance we covered - 50 miles - and the time we left our origin point - 11:00am.

Then we unloaded the bikes and went out to search for food. We found what we needed at a local Kroger and came back to the hotel. Just before entering the room we met someone that was very impressed by what we were doing. He claimed to be a salesman/advertising, and promised to get us on the local newspaper and also to sell our story to get us some sponsors; maybe some free hotels down the road. We exchanged contact information, hopefully it will work out.