Bicycle Journey Progress

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

Ride Progress: ABOUT TO START!
Daily summaries:

Daily Reports

Day 3 – 04/06/2012 – Charleston, SC
Starting point: 534 King Street, Charleston, SC
End point: Oak Plantation Campground, Charleston, SC 29414
Distance: 19 miles
Departure time: 3:30am
Arrival time: 5:30pm
Weather: Sunny, but not too hot. Temperature was around 75F.
Summary: We had planned to start our riding this day, but really that was all we did: get started. On the previous day we had purchased almost everything we needed, but we were missing two rear panniers and one store had promised to get them in stock by noon. However, putting everything in the panniers we had for this first time took longer than we thought. We only left our hotel room by 1:30pm. Also, the hotel was 6.7 miles away from the store to the opposite direction we were supposed to be riding. That summed up to a great delay in our trip. We arrived in the store close to 2:30pm, then installed the two extra panniers, organized our things on more time to fit in them. At 3:40pm we finally got started with the ride.
That day we covered 19 miles, when we saw a campground called Oak Plantation. It was already 5:30pm, and we were very, very far from our planned destination, so we decided to stay there for the night. As it turns out, the supposedly “campground” was in fact an RV parking. The front desk told us they didn’t really accept tents but the girl on the front desk was very nice and decided to ask her boss about it. When she returned, she said we could camp for the night under a wooden shelter in the middle of the campground, and didn’t really charge us anything.
That night we learned how to assemble our tents, which didn’t take too long. When we got ready to take a shower, the rain started. We ran to the bathrooms that were somewhat far away from the shelter. There we found a nice installation, but no hot water. Anyways the shower was great and we felt energized. Besides, being clean after a long day riding a bicycle is priceless.
Road condition: Good, all paved. We had some problems with Savannah Hwy, though, as there was heavy traffic and in many spots no place for a bicycle to ride. Other than that, was fine. Very flat.
Elevation: Flat, no elevation at all.
Difficulty: 1A - Tell me more
Lodging: Camping – Oak Plantation Campground

Day 4 – 04/07/2012 – Walterboro, SC
Starting point: Oak Plantation Campground, Charleston, SC 29414
End point: 33 Campground Road, Walterboro, SC 29488
Distance: 42 miles
Departure time: 1:30am
Arrival time: 7:30pm
Weather: Sunny and very cold in early morning, but it warmed up somewhat after 11am. After that, the temperature rose to about 70F.
Summary: We started on Savannah highway and covered 11 miles there. That road was really busy and with no shoulder, in other words, very dangerous conditions for any rider. Once we went out of that road we joined Old Jacksonboro road, which was a very please place to ride.  The weather we nice and there were pretty much no cars on that road, so miles passed fairly quickly. We were not adapted to riding so much, so even though we covered just 42 miles we arrived very tired. Our backs were also hurting since we started using muscles our brains didn’t seem know they existed. Overall this was a very pleasant day. We learned that navigating using the smartphone was not really a problem and reached our planned destination, which felt great. As we approached the campground, my uncle saw a hotel announcing rooms for $29 dollars. Since the campground was $25, we decided to stay in the hotel. The room was nice, and we had a chance to sleep well and recover for a long ride on the following day.
Road condition: Good, all paved. Long course on Savannah Hwy (US 17B), which has very intense traffic, no shoulder or any space suitable for a bike. It was very dangerous for that reason. We also took the Old Jacksonboro Rd, which was nice. It had perfect pavement, nice shades and very flat.
Elevation: Flat, no elevation at all.
Difficulty: 4A - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel - Country Hearth Inn & Suites

Day 5 – 04/08/2012 – Denmark, SC
Starting point: 33 Campground Road, Walterboro, SC 29488
End point: 17688 Heritage Highway, Denmark, SC 29042
Distance: 52 miles
Departure time: 12:30am
Arrival time: 7:30pm
Weather: Sunny. Temperature was around 75F.
Road condition: Besides the inexistent roads that Google planned for us, the road was fine. All paved and without too much traffic.
Summary: We got lost in the beginning as some of the roads appointed by Google did not exist. In two of them we found radio towers and gates blocking the way. We had to take an alternate route, but after that it was fine. We got very tired about 15 miles before our destination and since we were headed to an uncertain place to camp (at a State Park), we decided to change our plans and go to a small city called Denmark. There we found a 99% black population, very odd for a country where both black and white people are very prominent. The streets leading to the actual city were filled by old houses. It looked like a very poor neighborhood. In one of the houses a party was going on outside, where about 50 people were drinking and listening to an aggressive, noisy kind of rap.  After riding some unpaved streets we got into downtown, where a festival was happening. Many kids were at play, and people of all ages were walking and socializing. We didn’t film any of it because we were running to our hotel, in the hope of unloading and then coming back to film it. Unfortunately, our hotel turned to be far away from downtown, and by the time we got there it was already dark. In the next day, we packed fast and 10am we were ready to go.
Elevation: Flat, no elevation at all.
Difficulty: 5A - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Carolina Inn

Day 6 – 04/09/2012 – Augusta, GA
Starting point: 17688 Heritage Highway, Denmark, SC 29042
End point: 3320 Deans Bridge Road, Augusta, GA 30906
Distance: 63 miles
Departure time: 10:00am
Arrival time: 9:40pm
Weather: Sunny. The day started chilly, but warmed up quickly to upper 70s.
Road condition: Good, all paved. The path indicated by Google included some unpaved streets but we decided to go through a main road. The whole path was very difficult, with very steep hills.
Summary: This was a very difficult day. We had to reach our planned destination since there was nothing else closer, and we wanted keep up with our plan. The whole path we full of ups and downs, with steep hills. The sun was very strong and drinking water didn’t seem to help with the heat. That day we completed 20 miles just before noon, in less than two hours. But the following 20 miles took about almost four hours to complete due to the hard elevation. Finding food was another challenge due to the fact that was Easter Sunday. When we finally found a Subway, it was closed. A little further we found another hamburger place, and lacking options we decided to go in and eat something. Across the street we found a little shop where we bought more water and a big bottle of chocolate milk. We drunk it all and moved forward.
After almost 8 hours on the road we entered the Georgia state, completing our South Carolina crossing. At the same time we entered the Augusta city limits. But that was not the end of our journey. We still had one hour and a half of cycling inside the city to reach our campground. To our surprise, when we finally got there, it was not a campground at all. It was a mobile home parking place, very dark and full of people hanging around. That was obviously not the best place to be with tents, expensive bicycles and equipment, so before the individuals that started walking in our direction could reach us we departed to look for someplace else to sleep.
Using the phone we found a Days Inn hotel. We didn’t have any food with us, so I unload the bike and went to a Walmart about a mile away to get some. We then cooked our frozen food and went to sleep.
Difficulty: 6D - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Days Inn

Day 7 – 04/10/2012 – Warren, GA
Starting point: 3320 Deans Bridge Road, Augusta, GA 30906
End point: Fountain Campground, Warren, GA
Distance: 39 miles
Departure time: 11:30am
Arrival time: 7:30pm
Weather: Sunny and hot. Not too much wind. Temperature was on the lower 80s.
Road condition: Mostly paved. We got a 4 miles track of unpaved ground. Some parts of it were filled with gravel, which made it very hard to ride on.
Elevation: Mostly hills, very few flat spots.
Difficulty: 3C - Tell me more
Lodging: Camping – Fountain Campground

Day 8
Starting point: Fountain Campground, Warren, GA
End point: 306 West Broad Street, Greensboro, GA
Distance: 40 miles
Departure time: 11:30am
Arrival time: 7:30pm
Weather: Sunny and very hot for the most part, close to 85 F. In the late afternoon it got cloudy and the temperature dropped to around 65 F.
Summary: As a result of sleeping on such a scary place on the previous night, this day I was very tired. The road was not plain at all, which made it really it hard to progress. Each three miles were difficult and we had to stop long periods to recover. We drunk several bottles of water, and stopped to refill them several times. Not even energy bars seemed to help. Our road was parallel to a railroad. Most of the places we crossed were poor and in need of repairs. In one of the cities called Crawfordville almost everything was closed… and we were passing through it on a Tuesday afternoon! Thankfully, we found a gas station where we could buy more water to move forward.
After many hours powering through the hardcore hills we finally arrived in our destination. Greensboro was a nice place. The main street was a historic district full of giant houses. Close to our destination a guy waved for us across the street and came to us to help us find place to spend the night. He offered water and pointed us to a hotel in downtown. We followed his direction, just stopping to buy frozen food at a local market. Right after we arrived at the hotel we warmed up the frozen food in our electric pan, took shower and went to sleep.
Road condition: Good, we chose an all paved path which was a little longer but worth the effort.
Elevation: The whole path was full of hills, and some of them were very steep. Very hard to progress, we had to stop every 2 to 3 miles to rest and drink water.
Difficulty: 4D - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel - Greene Garden Inn

Day 9 – 04/11/2012 – Covington, GA
Starting point: 306 West Broad Street, Greensboro, GA
End point: 10101 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA
Distance: 46 miles
Departure time: 12:30am
Arrival time: 8:30pm
Weather: Sunny and somewhat cold. Temperature was around 65F.
Summary: Our route for this day was somewhat long so we had planned to leave as early as possible. So far we have been balancing how much sleep we get with how early we leave to our next destination. Every day we get up feeling like we could have slept more, but if we do then we end up leaving too late and, as a consequence arrive late, which makes it difficult to sleep early and then to leave early in the following day.
We put our clocks to ring at 8:30am, but since we still had to cook in the morning we ended up leaving the hotel at 11:30am. To our surprise, as soon as I started riding the bicycle I noticed my back tire was flat.
We then unloaded the bike, removed the tire and exchanged the tube. We didn’t have tire levers with us so we used the handles of two spoons we had, which worked fine to remove the tire. Took us about 30 minutes to fix the tire and load the bike again. Next, we had to find water. That took us another 30 minutes, and by noon thirty we were riding towards our destination… so much for leaving early.
 Thankfully the roads were a little easier that day; the elevation was not too intense. The first thing we cross in this route was the Oconee National Forest. During that crossing everything we could see was what seemed to be vegetation untouched by humans on both sides of the road.  It was very beautiful indeed.
Not too long after finishing crossing the forest we reached the Madison city limits. We went south about 2 miles to get frozen food in a nearby Walmart, and then crossed the city’s downtown before moving forward. This was a very nice place, full of coffee shops and small businesses which worked on houses very well decorated, at least from outside. Downtown was also located next to the historic district, which had several mansions from the late 1800s and early 1900s, all very well taken care of. We stopped for pictures several times. I wish we had more time to explore this city, but I enjoyed our quick visit.
When we finally reached Covington, our destination for the day, both of us were very tired, so we got to our hotel and, as usual, cooked, showered and went to sleep without further delay.
Road condition: Good, all paved. The elevation was still hard, but with occasional flat courses. Our bodies were more adapted to going hill, so we could handle it better.
Difficulty: 4C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Americas Best Value

Day 10 – 04/12/2012 – Atlanta, GA
Starting point: 10101 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA
End point: 2434 Candler Road, Decatur, GA
Distance: 46 miles
Departure time: 10:30am
Arrival time: 7:30pm
Weather: Sunny and somewhat cold. Temperature was around 65F in the morning, but rised to about 75F in the early afternoon.
Summary: This was a very nice day. We left the hotel early enough to have time to ride slowly and enjoy the whole course. Right when we got out we noticed that, due to the proximity with Atlanta, this course would be much more populated than previous ones. That made it so much easier. We had easy access to water and food, and since we were not running to reach Atlanta we had time to stop and take pictures frequently.
For lunch we decided to stop in a mall called Stonecrest, about 18 miles away from Atlanta. We entered the mall with our bicycles, dressed with those colorful rider clothes and full of bags which made us quite an attraction. Over there we met a couple that came out ask about our trip. They were very nice, and after a few minutes chatting we went looking for a Starbucks to have a coffee before moving along in our route. The closest Starbucks was about 2 miles from where we were. When we got there another guy asked about the trip and refused to believe we were actually going cross-country. Only after we showed him our blog using the smartphone he believed. We talked for a few minutes and then set down to drink our coffees. When I look to the door, I saw that same couple we have talked with in the mall. We chatted a little bit more, had our coffees and moved on. Later on that same day, getting close to the Atlanta city limits I heard someone calling from a car in the opposite lane. Guess who were in the car waving to us?! The same couple! That was too much coincidence!
In this day we crossed a few small cities such as Conyers and later on Decatur, where we decided to stay. Decatur was in the Atlanta metro area and our hotel was just 8 miles from downtown. The prices around here were much better though, so that was a good deal. The hotel was good enough, so we cooked our dinner and went to sleep as early as possible.
Road condition: Good, all paved. The elevation was still hard, but with occasional flat courses. The closer we got to Atlanta, the flatter the terrain was. However, the last few miles were harder. Once we entered a residential neighborhood we found very steep hills again, which delayed our arrival by almost an hour.
Difficulty: 3C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Discovery Inn

Day 11 – 04/13/2012 – Resting Day – Atlanta, GA
Distance: 18 miles within the Atlanta city limits.
Departure time: 11:30am
Arrival time: 9:00pm
Weather: Sunny. Temperature was around the lower 70’s, very pleasant.
Summary: We decided to stay in Atlanta a full day, just to go around and visit places. Also, we needed a time to rest our legs and reset our knees. At this point my uncle had been feeling his left knee which slowed down our average sleep a bit. Stopping for a day would also help me recover my legs, which have been sore since the beginning.
We slept a little longer, left all bags in the hotel and took off to Atlanta’s downtown with our bikes. It was about 8 miles away, so it took us about 50 minutes to get there. Upon arrival, we had breakfast/lunch in a sandwich place and went to the famous Georgia Aquarium. What a place! We saw all kinds of fishes, stingrays, sharks, whales and much more. I enjoyed this visit very much. I have actually been there when I was 11, but all I could remember from that visit was a corridor where we passed below a giant tank and could watch the sharks from below. It was very good to see it again after so much time. Well, not that much time. =)
We spend a good three hours walking in the aquarium, then went out and got in The World of Coca-Cola, the famous museum which is right next to the aquarium. There we learned about the history of the brand and how it came to be, and also tried other Coca-Cola brand sodas from all around the world. My favorite was a melon-flavored Fanta sold in Thailand. One more reason to go visit Thailand as soon as possible!
We then set down outside in the park that surrounds the aquarium and the museum to catch the Wi-Fi and get in touch with friends and family, then eat at a Subway and got back to the hotel.
This was a great day I’ll never forget. Tonight we’ll sleep early in an attempt to leave early tomorrow. We are planning on staying on a campground about 67 miles away from here, so we need to rest very well.
Road condition: Very good, all paved since we were riding just within the Atlanta city limits.
Difficulty: 1B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Discovery Inn

Day 12 – 04/14/2012 – Tallapoosa, GA
Starting point: 2434 Candler Road, Decatur, GA
End point: 1179 Georgia Highway 100 S, Tallapoosa, GA
Distance: 65 miles
Departure time: 10:30am
Arrival time: 9:00pm
Weather: Sunny, not too hot. Temperatures ranged from the mid 60s to the mid 70s.
Summary: We started riding towards a city called Tallapoosa, but right on the beginning we passed a place called Holly Taco and decided to stop for some coffee. We ended u spending over 30 minutes there and then moved on. We rode about 20 miles until we reached a gas station where we met a couple that as very interested in our trip. They asked about our goals and our motivation, and also about some of the tales we had to tell. After a nice conversation we went to find a place to have lunch. As usual, we ended up stopping at a Subway.
I hadn’t slept well in the previous night, so I wanted to cut down some miles anyway possible. We decided to enter interstate 20 just for a few miles to save us from a big detour suggested by the GPS. There, we found a picnic/resting area and decided to stop for information. The guy there was very nice and we had some good conversation. Other people, seeing us dressed up the way we were, stopped to ask about what we were doing and talk. We spent about 30 minutes there, and then moved on through the interstate. After a few more miles we returned to our regular path through back roads.
No major things happened in the road and we arrived in the campground safely. We then assembled our tents and set out to find a plug to connect our electric pan and heat up the dinner. There were no tables around and the only plugs were in front of the bathrooms. So we took a piece of wood and improvised a table. There we cooked some pasta with shrimps and Alfredo sauce, eat and had some orange juice. We then washed the dished in the bathroom, took shower and set out to sleep.
In the next day, no one was around to receive the payment. We filed out the registration form we found in a box in front of the office, added a thank you note, placed the money together with it and left it in the drop box and left.
Road condition: Good, all paved. The first 20 miles were mostly flat, with occasional hills. We also rode about 5 miles in the interstate 20, which is not allowed. We were lucky enough no police cars saw us riding over there.
Difficulty: 6B - Tell me more
Lodging: Camping - Big Oak RV Parking

Day 13 – 04/15/2012 – Lincoln, AL
Starting point: 1179 Georgia Highway 100 S, Tallapoosa, GA
End point: 4899 Speedway Boulevard, Lincoln, AL
Distance: 52 miles
Departure time: 11:30am
Arrival time: 8:15pm
Weather: Sunny and really hot. Temperatures were in the upper 70s.
Summary: When we woke up that day the grass was humid and none of the clothes I had left over our tents had dried, so I packed them went in a bag and prepared for breakfast.
The ride was easy and without major events. That was a good thing since we wanted to arrive at the destination early and assemble our tents with at least a little bit of sun light.
At some point our planned route was again crossing interstate 20. We then decided to test our luck one more time and cut our some miles by riding in the interstate. We were able to progress well for a few miles, but then we faced a construction site that seemed to be stopped due to the fact that was a Sunday. No workers around. Without further options besides returning to where we came from, we took our bicycles down the construction area and moved forward riding in it. Later on, we found out a few newly constructed lanes were closed to the cars, but the pavement seemed dry enough for bicycles. We then started riding in there, while all cars were passing us using the old lanes. Thankfully, no police cars passed by us, or we would be in big trouble. That was nice, we were able to shorten our path in several miles and ride without any incidents.
When we arrived to our destination, we found nothing. Google had marked our campground in the wrong place and we spent several minutes riding around trying to figure out where was it. When we finally found it, an old guy greeted us and allowed us to pitch our tents without problems. We cooked in the bathroom since we couldn’t find plugs anywhere else. Then we eat showered, washed clothes and went to sleep.
Before falling asleep we checked the forecast for the next day: heavy rain and thunderstorms. We thought we would maybe ride with a few drops here and there… the fact was we had no idea what the next day had reserved for us.
Road condition: Good, all paved. Our route included many different back roads, but in order to cut distance we decided to ride in Interstate 20. We covered about 25 miles there.
Difficulty: 5B - Tell me more
Lodging: Camping - Talladega Taz RV Park

Day 14 – 04/16/2012 – Vestavia Hills, AL
Starting point: 4899 Speedway Boulevard, Lincoln, AL
End point: 1621 Crossgate Drive, Vestavia Hills, AL
Distance: 62 miles
Departure time: 10:30am
Arrival time: 9:40pm
Weather: Cloudy to rainy. We also caught a strong thunderstorm in the last 15 miles.
Summary: 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.
Road condition: Good, all paved. However, the elevation was very intense and as we approached Vestavia Hills it got worse. That slowed us down a lot.
Difficulty: 6D - Tell me more
Lodging: Edison’s house.

Day 15 – 04/17/2012 – Resting Day – Vestavia Hills, AL
Weather: Cloudy to rainy. Although most day was raining that didn’t really affect us since we were not riding. 
Summary: 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.
Lodging: Edison’s house.

Day 16 – 04/18/2012 – Jasper, AL
Starting point: 1621 Crossgate Drive, Vestavia Hills, AL
End point: 200 Mall Way, Jasper, AL
Distance: 47 miles
Departure time: 10:45am
Arrival time: 7:30pm
Weather: Mostly cloudy up to early afternoon. Later in the afternoon the sun came out but temperatures didn’t raise much, staying mostly in the upper 60s.
Summary: 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.
Road condition: Good, all paved. We had several courses downhill which helped with our average speed. The road was composed by hills that were not too intense interspersed with occasional flat stretches. The roads we rode had wide shoulders and traffic was not too intense.
Difficulty: 4B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Travel-Rite Inn.

Day 17 – 04/19/2012 – Hamilton, AL
Starting point: 200 Mall Way, Jasper, AL
End point: 315 Bexar Avenue W, Hamilton, AL 35570
Distance: 62 miles
Departure time: 10:30am
Arrival time: 8:00pm
Weather: Cloudy in the morning and a little chilly in the morning, but after noon it started to warm up and the sun came out. It remained warm and sunny for the rest of the day, with temperatures around the mid 70s.
Summary: 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 examine 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.
Then the usual: dinner, shower, wash clothes, update blog, and sleep.
Road condition: Good, all paved. Most of the course was composed by light hills, with occasional flat stretches. In the last 20 miles we faced a few steep hills, but not too many.
Difficulty: 6B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Holiday Motel.

Day 18 – 04/20/2012 – Tupelo, MS
Starting point: 315 Bexar Avenue W, Hamilton, AL 35570
End point: 767 East Main Street, Tupelo, MS
Distance: 49 miles
Departure time: 10:45 am
Arrival time: 7:45pm
Weather: Partially cloudy up to middle afternoon, then the sun came out for the rest of the day. It started in the lower 70s and warmed up to the lower 80s, so it was fairly hot.
Summary: 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.
Next we showered, had dinner, updated the blog and then went to sleep.
Road condition: Very good, all paved. Very few spots had cracks and bumps of the concrete, but mostly they were in good shape. We had shoulders to ride on for the most part of the course. The elevation was heavier the closer we got to Tupelo, but the long pain stretches compensated.
Difficulty: 4B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Americas Best Value

Day 19 – 04/21/2012 – Holly Springs, MS
Starting point: 767 East Main Street, Tupelo, MS
End point: 155 Clarice Drive, Holly Springs, MS 38635
Distance: 68 miles
Departure time: 12:00 pm
Arrival time: 10:45pm
Weather: This day the temperature was a big surprise. We woke up with a chilly weather. When we went out of the room it was 51F / 11C. It made riding much harder as we were not properly dressed. After 2:00 pm the temperature raised to 68F / 20C. We dressed up better and then, after dusk, temperatures dropped to the lower 50s again.
Summary: This day was a hard one, but at morning I of course had no idea. It started with us leaving our hotel very late – about 11:30am - to visit Elvis’ birthplace: a little house located just a mile from our hotel. They made a small park surrounding it, along with a museum. We took a few pictures, but the whole thing took about 45 minutes. As a result, we ended up leaving the city very late. Besides, we were surprised by the cold weather and were not properly dressed. That made the ride much harder.
We made the first 24 miles to a city called New Albany with almost no stops, just a few to drink water. Arriving in New Albany we decided to change our lunch program a little and have a pizza. We ordered the largest we could find, of course. After a long wait, we finally eat and moved on. Next to the pizzeria there was a Walmart. Due to the cold weather we decided to stop and change clothes. I also bought a pair of gloves to help with the chilly wind. We then left New Albany behind. At this point I didn’t yet know I was leaving more than the city behind, but more on that later.
A few miles down the road we stopped to get more water and to have a cup of coffee. Due to all delays, we were approaching twilight already. To make things worse there was no much ahead of us: we were about to cross the Holly Springs national forest. We then had our coffee and started the ride into the forest. We few minutes later dusk came and, soon enough, it was completely dark. We kept going guided just by our beam lights.
As we moved further and further into the forest we started crossing a few farms, and that means we started having trouble with unchained dogs. Many started chasing us. Pretty much every farm had one or two large dogs running free, sometimes more. I can tell you being chased by a Doberman during the day is not a pleasant experience, but being chased by one or something that looks like one at night is much worse. We kept riding as fast we as could while the temperature kept dropping. At this point it was about 52 F / 11 C. We kept a good pace both to cover as much ground as we could and to keep our bodies warm.
We then faced a new problem: a sign saying a bridge ahead which used to cross a river had fallen and there was no passage through that road. We then took a small service road and rode about 10 miles in the interstate. When we finally reached the next exit, we got back to our original path.
After about two hours and a half riding in the cold night and having covered more than 65 miles we arrived at our destination. The city was small and there were apparently no grocery stores opened. We found a gas station which had a convenience store, so we stopped to buy food. I then decided I was going to buy our things and started to look for my cards. I used to keep them both, debit and credit, together along with my driver’s license. After an extensive search I realized I had lost them all. I must have forgotten them in New Albany’s Walmart during the clothing exchange.
My uncle bought the groceries and we rode to a cheap hotel we found nearby. I then had a big problem to deal with: get replacement cards while on the road. But I was not going to deal with this problem that night. We eat, showered and went to sleep after having covered more miles than any day up to this point.
Road condition:  Very good, all paved. The elevation was intense but the occasional flat stretches provided us with an opportunity to recover before the next hill would come again.
Difficulty: 6C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Magnolia Inn

Day 20 – 04/22/2012 – Memphis, TN
Starting point: 155 Clarice Drive, Holly Springs, MS 38635
End point: 667 S Bellevue Blvd, Memphis, TN 38104
Distance: 47 miles
Departure time: 11:00 am
Arrival time: 7:45 pm
Weather: Still cold when compared to other days, but the temperatures rose since the previous day. At 11:00 pm it was around 57F / 14C, and then it rose to 68F / 20C from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. It then dropped somewhat, but still it didn’t as cold as in the previous day.
Summary: This day started a little warmer than the previous day, which facilitated the ride somewhat. Right on our way out of the hotel we met three people that were also checking out. They asked about the trip and one of the guys pulled his video camera. He started interviewing us on camera, which was quiet fun. After we said good bye we moved on straight to the road.
We rode the first 25 miles with no significant stops, just pausing to drink water and resuming the ride. After about 2 hours on the road we arrived in a city called Olive Branch, already located on the Memphis metro area. We then had lunch at a Subway. After lunch the weather had changed and clouds were covering most of the sky. We entered the Memphis city limits. It was a long ride from that point to the hotel we decided to stay, which was located close to downtown and the Memphis-& Arkansas Bridge.
When we were about five miles away from the hotel the rain started and we took shelter on a gas station until it had diminished. We then kept riding in the rain and arrived in our hotel just after dusk.
We then went out to find something to eat and ended up going to a supermarket to buy frozen food and things for the breakfast. You know what happened next: we eat, showered, washed clothes, updated the blog and went to sleep.
Road condition: All paved. There were no problems other than some lack of shoulders in parts of the Old 78 Highway and on our way out of Holly Springs. Elevation was not too intense so we covered the distance without much trouble.
Difficulty: 4B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Lamplighter Motor Inn

Day 21 – 04/23/2012 – Resting Day – Memphis
Distance: 25 miles within the city limits
Departure time: 11:30 am
Arrival time: 10:15 pm
Weather: A little chilly during the morning time, but it warmed up as we progressed to early afternoon. Temperatures were very pleasant from that point on.
Summary: Just as all other resting days, this one was great. We woke up around 9:00am and then did a few things in the computer. I ordered a debit replacement card which will arrive in the hotel we plan to stay in Conway, three days from now. Then we went out to see the city.
We headed to downtown where the Graceland Mansion – Elvis Presley’s former home - was indicated by our maps. On our way, we deviated from our route to get a coffee and stumbled upon FedexForum, a major basketball stadium. We saw there was a game between Memphis and Cleveland so we decided to watch the game. We got our tickets and then had our coffee.
When we arrived to our destination we discovered that unfortunately it was wrong and there was no mansion in that location. Instead, we found Beale Street. That was an amazing place: full of historical places, stores and restaurants. The B.B. King club was there, as were many stores established in the 19th century.
We walked around, explored and talked to a few people. One of the guys told me about how legendary that place was, and how significant it had been in his life. He had been a musician in his early days but it didn’t turn so well financially. Now he was with a friend on one of the stores in that same street. We took a picture together and I moved on.
We then decided to eat pizza! Each of us had an entire Domino’s pizza of medium size. I guess we needed to pack some calories. Then we rode to the actual Graceland Mansion which was about 10 miles away.
It was a guided tour, but we were free to explore the house and expend as much time in each section as we wished. The whole place had an intense atmosphere. Though the colorful, almost unorganized decoration and furniture I became clear that Elvis’ personality in the stage transcended his shows and was also part of this private life. Golden furniture pieces, colorful walls, ceilings with carpet and others with mirrors. And a room with three televisions lined up which Elvis used to watch on different channels, all at once. It was a very interesting place indeed. We learned a lot about his life and then visited his grave.
We then rode back to downtown to watch the game. It was my first time watching a basketball game and I can say I’ll be back there more times for sure. I enjoyed the whole thing, not just the game. If you’ve been in a basketball game you know what I mean: they make a big show out of it.
Then we headed back to the hotel, just stopping by to get some groceries. Next we had dinner, showered and prepared to sleep. What an amazing city and unforgettable day!
Road condition: Streets of Memphis were in regular condition. All paved but with bumps on most busy streets. We found routes with bike lanes, which helped a little. The elevation was very easy, no steep hills at all with a majority of streets being totally flat.
Difficulty: 2A - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Lamplighter Motor Inn

Day 22 – 04/24/2012 – Wynne, AR
Starting point: 667 S Bellevue Blvd, Memphis, TN 38104
End point: 708 Hwy 64 E, Wynne, AR
Distance: 58 miles
Departure time: 11:30 am
Arrival time: 9:45 pm
Weather: Very pleasant up to 1 pm. Then the temperature rose to 82 F / 28 C, which degraded our performance somewhat. It was sunny the whole day.
Summary: We woke up a little earlier than usual this day, around 8:30. By 9:30 we had eaten breakfast and were almost ready to go, but I still had to cut my hair. My uncle didn’t want to come along and stayed at the hotel doing things at the computer. I picked up my bicycle without any load and went out searching for a place to have my hair shaved. I found a nice little saloon and had it done.
After I returned we quickly loaded the bikes and started the ride toward Wynne, AR. The first few miles going out of Memphis were fine, no issues. We crossed the Arkansas-Memphis Bridge, and then discovered things were not to go so smooth for long.
Right after crossing the bridge we noticed there was no obvious place to ride on. The way was blocked by stretch of concrete guardrail, and our only option was to cross a stretch of vegetation walking he bicycles through it until we could reach a small service road on the side. When we reached the road we took the wrong way and wasted 30 more minutes trying to find a way to return to where we should be. When we finally did, we discovered the path indicated by the GPS was not paved, but instead covered by gravel. We had to go slowly due to the high load on the bikes, which delayed us. A few miles later things got worse. We reached the entrance to a plantation field and our path became a trail in the middle of the plantation. People were working on the fields, and we were not sure if we were allowed to pass through it. However, due to the lack of options and the fact we were at least 5 miles away of any pavement, we deiced to just move forward. People were looking at us but didn’t say anything, so we kept going. We spent the next forty minutes crossing plantation fields through that uneven sand trail, and then finally reached a paved road we could follow.
The ride from that point on went well. The path was very flat with large shoulders which were at times large enough to fit both of us riding side by side. That way we managed to cover many miles with few stops to drink water or rest. However, due to the delays we had before we were not able to catch sunlight all the way. We saw an unbelievable sunset and took great pictures.
A few minutes later, when we finally got close to our destination, it was night already. We saw fields and trees covered by fireflys flashing all around us. That was an amazing show we could not capture on camera. At times it was like the trees had been covered by Christmas lamps. That was a really great gift from nature.
Next we went to a Walmart to buy our food, and headed to a cheap hotel close by. You know what happened next: dinner, washing clothes, updating the blog and preparing to sleep.
Road condition: At first 5 miles going out of Memphis were fine with all paved streets. But right on the other side of the Arkansas-Memphis Bridge we had to go through a very rough path about 8 miles long. It was covered with thick gravel for the most part, then uneven dry soil. We cut through plantation fields and what seemed to be private properties. Then, when we finally reached a paved road the ride was smooth. No problems with the elevation. The path was all flat with a large shoulder that at time could accommodate both of us riding side by side.
Difficulty: 5A - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Nationwide 9 Inn

Day 23 – 04/25/2012 – Bald Knob, AR
Starting point: 708 Hwy 64 E, Wynne, AR
End point: 3415 Arkansas 367, Bald Knob, AR
Distance: 48 miles
Departure time: 11:00 am
Arrival time: 8:30 pm
Weather: Very hot. The temperature went up to 82 F / 28 C right in the early afternoon. However, the major factor today was the wind. The region we were riding on was under a wind advisory and we caught winds of 30 mph against us. Then the winds shifted SW and we could move a little faster, but still it made the ride really hard.
Summary: The day started rough. Right away after leaving the hotel we noticed the wind was very strong. As predicted by the Weather Channel, the winds were coming SW but much stronger than we thought. As we started moving away from the city limits we entered an area where plantations surrounded us on both sides and there was nothing to block the winds. The wind speeds were averaging 30 mph with gusts of 40 mph and, since we were going towards the west, we were being hit sideways.
For a tough four hours period we could not move faster than 5mph, and therefore covered just 20 miles for the first four hours of riding. At times it was really hard to stay in the shoulders. We would use a lot of energy just to stay in the road due to irregularity of the wind gusts. When trucks passed by us a strong wave of air would make us bounce sideways and in order to control the bicycle we had to break almost to a complete stop.
A little further down the road we saw a truck with the writing “Oversized Load” on its back, but didn’t pay much attention. Bad mistake. A few seconds later we were almost hit a by a house. That’s exactly right. A truck carrying one of mobile house was going behind the first truck and due to incoming traffic in the opposed lane it could not move to give us more space. It didn’t slow down either. The house was large enough to use more than half of the shoulder space and its corner passed not more than 10 cm from the left side of my back. Had I been a few centimeters to the left and I probably wouldn’t be alive to write this summary right now.
We stopped to recover from the sock of being so close to a disastrous accident. A few seconds later time to recover was over, we still had a lot to cover. Many other mobile houses passed by us that day, but were not a treat since now we knew about the truck announced its passage, and had time to move away to a safe distance.
We kept moving forward and had covered about 15 miles under those conditions when a strong gust hit me and I couldn’t hold the bicycle on its way. In order to avoid a complete crash I jumped and let the bicycle fall down a small hill on the side of the road. My uncle stopped and helped me pull it back up. Nothing had been broken, so we just kept inching towards the next city.
After 24 miles we reached a city called Mc Crory. We decided to look for something to eat and found a pizzeria called Pizza Plus. There we learned the whole area was under a Wind Advisory. We were actually glad to know about the advisory since that meant those winds were uncommon around those areas. We eat a big pizza and almost two litters of coke, and then returned to the road. Thankfully, the next section of road was surrounded by trees which blocked the winds. We then could go a little faster, and by 8:30pm we arrived to a small hotel in a city called Bald Knob. That was not our planned destination but we decided to stay there.
We unloaded the bikes in the hotel room and went out to get food. A small supermarket was not too far and we bought all we needed for dinner and breakfast. We then had dinner and did all those things we need to do before sleeping. By midnight we were finally turning the lights off.
Road condition: Good, all paved and flat. Most of the road had wide shoulders with very feel exceptions where the shoulder was thin.
Difficulty: 4A + W5 - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Regency Inn

Day 24 – 04/26/2012 – Conway, AR
Starting point: 3415 Arkansas 367, Bald Knob, AR
End point: 815 East Oak Street, Conway, AR
Distance: 70.7 miles
Departure time: 9:30 am
Arrival time: 8:45 pm
Weather: Very hot. The temperature was high in the early morning and it went even higher around 2 pm, reaching 84F / 29 C. The wind was not strong so we were able to progress consistently throughout the day.
Summary: Due to the change of plans yesterday, today we knew we would have a massive 67 miles to cover, plus a few we always ride either lost or getting in and out of places, etc. So we woke up much earlier than in previous days, at 7:00am. The coffee in the hotel was watery to the point where I could see the bottom of a large cup filled with it. No coffee for us. We had lots to do in the room organizing the things and were able to start the ride at 9:30am.
We rode 12 miles straight and then stopped to get a coffee and recover the energies from the heat. From that point on we rode on an intense rhythm all the time up to the point we reached 40 miles. During this period we rode side by side with a busy railroad where trains passed every five minutes or so. We saw many small houses and little ranches and escaped from a few dogs, too.
About 5 hours later we arrived to Cabot and looked for a Subway to buy lunch. We then moved on to cover the last 30 remaining miles. I was feeling good up to that point, but after our stop I started feeling a blistering pain on both legs caused by my pants and underwear rubbing on the same spots during all those previous 40 miles. The heat and the sweat helped the skin to bruise and the pain was very intense. For the next three hours and a half all I could think of was the pain. I didn’t even feel tired, didn’t watch for dogs, nothing. Pedaling was a struggle and there was nothing that could be done at that point besides moving on.
At the end of the course we reached the thousand miles mark! We stopped, took pictures of the odometer and published in the blog right away.
Before getting into the hotel we stopped to buy things for dinner and breakfast, and then came to the hotel. We eat as quickly as possible in order to sleep early.
Road condition: Good, all paved and mostly flat. We got a long stretch from Bald Knob to Cabot where the road we very flat. From Cabot to Conway we got some small hills with an occasional steep one, but nothing major.
Difficulty: 7B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Americas Best Value

Day 25 – 04/27/2012 – Hot Springs, AR
Starting point: 815 East Oak Street, Conway, AR
End point:
Distance: 74.2 miles
Departure time: 10:00 am
Arrival time: 10:20 pm
Weather: In the morning the temperature was not too high, around 70 F / 22 C, but as the afternoon progressed it warmed up quickly to 85 F / 29 C. The high humidity also didn’t help much. The day was windy but since most of our route was surrounded by forests we got protection against it and it didn’t slow us down much.
Summary: This was a difficult day. We woke up 8:00am and were able to leave the hotel by 10:00am. Then we rode pretty much straight for about 20 miles when we arrived to a small city called Bigelow, which had just 329 habitants. We found a place to have lunch and decided to ask for the traditional plate. There was not a vegetarian option so we settled for the catfish dish. After eating we kept moving forward.
We then entered Ouachita National Forest and, what was a pleasant way to ride on became a path full of long and steep hills. We had to go down our bikes and walk them up hill several times. Fifteen miles passed that way. Then we entered a small road called Mt Ida Rd. The path started smooth, but the elevation was still intense with ups and downs all the way. We kept progressing when, for our surprise, the pavement ended.
We then endured about twelve miles of unpaved, uneven and rough trails that cut through completely isolated areas. There was absolutely nothing around us besides untouched forest. We passed through even broken trees blocking the road which showed how little traffic that road had. At a given point the path the GPS had indicated was just a little trail covered by vegetation which was just not suitable for crossing. We took a detour, which extended the course we had to cover.
When we finally went out of the gravel path the road was fine, except for the elevation which was still intense. We rode about 10 miles and reached the last road we had to ride on. That one was a last seven miles uphill, and we arrived on the hotel. There was a Family Dollar store right on the side of the hotel where we got our food and drinks. Then we headed to the hotel, eat and prepared to sleep as quickly as possible.
 Road condition: The first 46 miles were good and paved. We had shoulders to ride on for most of the course. After miles 46 we entered a small road called Mt Ida Rd which was paved just for the first 3 miles. Then we endured 12 miles of unpaved road with loose gravel. Those were hard miles to cover and took us almost two hours to finish them. After that we got pavement again, but the elevation became a major factor. The last miles were very intense with long hills. It was a very hard course to complete.
Difficulty: 7C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Americas Best Value 

Day 26 – 04/28/2012 – Mount Ida, AR
Starting point: 857 Park Avenue, Hot Springs, AR
End point: 936 Highway 270 E, Mount Ida, AR
Distance: 39 miles
Departure time: 11:30 am
Arrival time: 7:30 pm
Weather: Partially cloudy in the beginning. The sun came out around noon and the rest of the afternoon was really hot. Temperatures rose to about 84 F / 28 C. The winds were not strong and didn’t play a major role this day.
Summary: This day we were very tired. Our bodies were broken from the previous day’s long and hard course. So we decided to ride just about 40 miles. The next city on the distance was a place called Mount Ida, which we knew nothing about.
Before leaving we had to cross the city we were in, Hot Springs, AR. In the previous day we couldn’t see it well due to the fact we got there late at night and stopped right on the entrance, but now during the day things were clear. Right when we went off the hotel we started seeing closed businesses and old buildings. There were many closed hotels. The main one, called Majestic, encompassed three full blocks and had about eight stories. Closed for a long time it looked like coming out straight from a horror movie.
But the bad impressions ended there. As we approached the main avenue we started seeing many small shops and coffee houses. We stopped our bicycles on a cupcake store and had a nice coffee while we watched the people walking in the streets. Everyone was friendly and polite and the streets were very clean.
After drinking our coffees we moved on and cross the downtown area, which was very busy. Many small shops and bathing houses were lined up on both sides of the Central Avenue. Later we read that the city was initially formed by people seeking the medicinal properties of the many springs located in that region. The springs pour water in temperatures up to 143 F. Before the colonial period, even Native Americans used to come searching for these springs. The history of the place had many chapters, including being a strategic point during in the Civil War. Now its golden age seems to have passed and the city seemed to be decreasing in its size. But still, that was an amazing place to visit.
The path to Mount Ida was full of long hills, which made the way hard to go through, but we had time and that helped. We covered the distance in about 7 hours going very slowly and watching the nature of the Ouachita National Forest.
The hotel there was also a pleasant surprise. We found a very nice place that was very affordable too. We then went out to get food on a nearby supermarket and came back to have dinner and prepare to sleep.
 Road condition: Very good, all paved. No issues other than a few stretches of road work. The elevation was not too intense with the exception of a few steep hills. We were isolated from the winds by the Ouachita National Forest.
Difficulty: 3C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Royal Oak Inn

Day 27 – 04/29/2012 – Mena, AR
Starting point: 936 Highway 270 E, Mount Ida, AR
End point: 1018 Highway 71 S, Mena, AR
Distance: 38 miles
Departure time: 11:30 am
Arrival time: 7:00 pm
Weather: Not too hot, with temperatures around 72 F. Most of the day was sunny, but we had periods of cloudy sky as well. No rain though.
Summary: Mount Ida was a small city, just a few houses and gas stations. Once we left the hotel we stopped to get some water, and then started the ride. However, we had a disagreement on the final destination for that day. Since both of us felt strongly about what we were proposing that caused some conflict.
I can say that, at least for me, that pretty much ruined the day. My uncle was riding very slowly and, although we’ve been most of the day on the road, we ended up covering just about 42 miles that day.
The path was still crossing the Ouachita National Forest and there was very little population along the way. We were surrounded by the forest and by farms until we reached the city we were going to spend the night, Mena, still in Arkansas. There we found a small hotel that had vacancy and did everything we could to go sleep as early as possible.
 Road condition: Good, all paved. We faced some intense elevation while crossing the Ouachita National Forest. We had to walk our bikes uphill many times. Other than that the road was good, had plenty of shoulder space and not too much traffic. As we got closer to Mena the road became flatter.
Difficulty: 3C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Budget Inn 

Day 28 – 04/30/2012 – Talihina, OK
Starting point: 1018 Highway 71 S, Mena, AR
End point: 705 Dallas St, Talihina, OK
Distance: 57 miles
Departure time: 10:30 am
Arrival time: 7:00 pm
Weather: Both rainy and sunny. As soon as we got into Oklahoma we started to get some showers and then some heavy rain. The sun came out after that, but the temperatures remained around the 80 F / 25 C all day long. Very weak winds to no wind at all.
Summary: This da we had as our goal to reach a city called Clayton, in Oklahoma. The first 20 miles were pretty much a straight ride on good roads without much elevation. We then crossed the state line and entered Oklahoma.
A little further down the road we decided to stop and rest a little and rest before moving forward. We then started hearing thunders and saw a heavy rain on a nearby mountain. We had Subway sandwiches with us, so we decided to have lunch there too to be ready in case we get the rain on the road. We also packed the backpack and other bags with plastic bags to make sure they’d stay dry.
As soon as we finished eating the first droplets started falling. We pulled our rain coats and a strong rain started falling. We rode in the rain for about an hour. The water was not too cold and the road was easy to ride with very little traffic. This part of the road was very pleasant to ride on. We then reached an intersection where we saw a small shelter and decided to stop for a few minutes. The rain stopped, and we could see a thick vapor coming out of the warm asphalt right away.
A few miles down the road we reached a place called Whitesboro. We stopped in a county place called Kuntry Kitchen and asked for two cups of coffee. Daniel, the place’s cook, was very nice and came to talk to us. We set down on one of the tables and he talked about his interest in different languages, and how much he liked to meet travelers like us. We spent almost an hour talking to him and his wife, Dorothy.
Then we returned to the road, but decided to change our destination. We noticed that going south towards Clayton city would cause us to miss the passage through Oklahoma City. Besides, there were no roads going straight towards West and we would have to go in zigzag for a long time. Instead, we went to Talihina which was just 12 miles away from that bar.
Arriving there, the hotel we wanted to stay was full so we searched for another one. The owner of that hotel called someone she knew had cabins for rent, and we reserved one. The place was really nice, more like a fully furnished house than a cabin. We cooked, showered and spent a lot of time drying some of our things that had gotten wet because of the rain. This was a nice day!
 Road condition: Good, all paved. Not much elevation. This stretch was easy to cross when considering the distance we covered.
Difficulty: 5B - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Black Rock Roost cabins

Day 29 – 05/1/2012 – McAlester, OK
Starting point: 705 Dallas St, Talihina, OK
End point: 690 Bernhardt Dr McAlester, OK 74501
Distance: 54 miles
Departure time: 12:30 am
Arrival time: 8:30 pm
Weather: Sunny the whole day. Temperatures were very high in the lower 90s. The winds slowed us down a little, but were not a major factor. In some short stretches going north we had winds blowing from South which helped us go uphill.
Summary: Before leaving Talihina we dried and organized all our panniers which were wet from the previous day’s rain. In this process I separated everything I could get rid of or haven’t used in the trip p to that point and made a little bag. We then went out and I shipped that bag to a friend’s house in order to diminish the weight I was carrying in the bicycle. We knew the way would go through close to no population, so we also stopped to get an extra sandwich each so we could eat on the road.
The first 14 miles were of flat road. The temperatures were high and I was sleepy, so I was not enjoying the day as much as I could. We stopped to have lunch at a picnic area just before a zone where we knew that we had to cross over two mountains. There we eat and rested for a few minutes in the shade of a large tree.
Once we left the picnic area we started crossing an area of very intense elevation. Long and steep hills extended for more than a mile at times while we climbed up the mountains. We had to stop and walk our bicycles several times.
Once we crossed the first mountain, we made a left turn and started crossing the second one: more hills, more heat and more walking the bicycles. At the top of this mountain we found an old car, probably from the 1940s, sitting on the entrance of a farm. I got close to look at it, but it was almost empty as the windows were broken and people had taken everything they could.
We passed through a small city called Hartshorne. There, we  … . After that the path got flatter and we soon arrived to McAlester with the sun still shinning.
 Road condition: Good, all paved. The elevations were not too intense in the first 14 miles, but then we reached a mountain range and, even though the road was going around the mountains, we still have to walk our bikes uphill many times.
Difficulty: 5C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Motel 6

Day 30 – 05/2/2012 – Wewoka, OK
Starting point: 690 Bernhardt Dr., McAlester, OK 74501
End point: 36494 US Highway 270B Wewoka, OK 74884
Distance: 64 miles
Departure time: 10:15 am
Arrival time: 9:30 pm
Weather: Hot and sunny for the most part. Then we had some spare clouds in the sky, it was still very hot. Temperatures were in the mid to upper 80s. The winds slowed us down somewhat, but not too much.
Summary: This was a nice day. We prepared our things and started following the GPS. On our way out of McAlester we suddenly realized the GPS was indicating us to go inside a penitentiary. We looked at the gates surrounding the prison area, and the main street that cut it through was guarded by gates, but no one was on its post checking the vehicles. So we decided to go through and try to pass to the other side before anyone would see us to prevent a big detour. We got in, and some people, which I can only assume to be visitors, were attentively looking at us. Everything was going fine until a truck with two cops stopped us and told us to get out of there. We had no other option but to take the detour.
Once we reached the highway we were planning on riding on we progressed without much trouble. The winds were strong so we couldn’t go too fast, but we were moving forward. This day we had a smooth and somewhat uneventful ride, which is rare.
Once we got closer to Wewoka we saw it was getting dark and it was too late to follow 20 more miles to Seminole, our original planned destination. So we decided to stay there. However, finding the hotel was a big problem. There was nothing where the GPS had indicated, so we called the front desk. The girl gave us the directions and we discovered we were still about 6 miles away from it. We made a right turn into a small dark road which was full of bugs flying around. As we moved forward they would hit our faces, get into our noses, etc. Not a very nice feeling.
We then arrived to our hotel. The room was fine, except that it was full of large black crickets. I killed about five of them including the one in my pillow, but in the next day my uncle told me there were others making noises throughout the night.
 Road condition: Good, all paved. We faced elevations all along with just a few stretches of flat road. All of the roads we got had shoulder space, although some were not too wide.
Difficulty: 6C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Westside Inn

Day 31 – 05/3/2012 – Oklahoma City, OK
Starting point: 36494 US Highway 270B Wewoka, OK 74884
End point: Southeast 44th Street, Oklahoma City, OK
Distance: 68 miles
Departure time: 11:00 am
Arrival time: 4:00 am (+1 day)
Weather: Very hot and sunny the whole day. The temperatures were in the lower 90s and the humidity was low. It all added to a very hard day to ride on.
Summary: The day started hot. We went out of the hotel at 11 because we needed to rest a little bit more that day due to our lack of sleep in previous nights. We had an intense 25 miles under the hot sun. During that time we passed several Native American counties or “Nations”, as they call them. When we arrived to a small city called Shawnee and found a Subway to have lunch. We stopped for about an hour and a half in the hope the temperatures would go down somewhat before we would move on. That, of course, didn’t happen.
Everything was going well until I noticed my front tire was flat. We stopped in the side of a road and fixed it quite quickly, but a small part of the tube got stuck in between the wheel and the border to the tire and it blew as soon as we started inflating it. So we took it out and used the second spare tube we had. This whole thing took almost 45 minutes, but this time it seemed to be holding fine so we moved on.
Not too long after we left we noticed the tire was flat again. We stopped and took the tube out again, fixed with a patch and inspected the tire for anything sticking inside one more time. Again we couldn’t find anything, so we assembled the bike again and moved on. Due to the delay in fixing the tire we arrived in a small city called McLoud around 9pm instead of 7pm as we had planned. We stopped to get something to eat since it was completely dark already and we still had 28 miles to go.
Since there was nothing else to eat anywhere else at that time we agreed to eat some sandwiches of questionable appearance and no expiration date printed on the pack. When we went out of the station, we saw my front tire was flat again.
We unassembled the whole thing one more time and started fixing it. That was when a police car stopped b to check if we wanted some help. We had extra patches and a nice pump which we used to, one more time fix the tire. Again we inspected carefully looking for something that could be causing it to get flat, but found nothing.
We moved on from McLoud and about 10 minutes later a police car with lights on stopped behind us and signaled for us to stop. A police man came out and gave us two transparent safety glasses since ours were sunglasses, not appropriate to ride at night. He said the Sargent that had helped us before had sent them to us. We accepted them, and the police went back to his car. Before leaving, he used the loud speaker on his car and said “looks good!”. That was really funny. Then, better protected, we kept pedaling… but unfortunately, not for long.
About 5 miles down the road my front tire was flat one more time. It was past 1:00am already. We looked for the only source of light coming from a lamp hanging on an electric line and one more time fixed it. This time, however, we found the culprit: a small piece of metal that was hidden in the rubber. We finally removed it, inflated the tube, assembled the panniers and kept moving on. The road was totally dark and hilly, but due to the late hours there was close to no traffic.
When I least expected a shaded figure crossed the road right in front of us very quickly. I couldn’t see what it was at first, but when we advanced a few more meters we passed side by side with it and I saw it was a wolf! Fortunately it was alone. It just looked at us and ran back to the forest without trying to chase us or anything.
About two hours later we entered the Southeast side of Oklahoma City. It was about 3:00am so all avenues were empty and riding at night, despite of being very tired, was very pleasant. We were hungry but there was nothing opened at that time. The only place opened with anything to eat that vaguely approximated food was McDonalds. Due to the circumstances we were forced to eat there.
On our way to the planned hotel we checked several others in the hope of finding one with a similar rate that wouldn’t require us to keep pedaling but all of the were either full or much more expensive.
We got to our hotel at 4:00am. Then we showered, washed clothes and prepared to sleep as quickly as we could. That was quite a rough day, but still I liked it a lot!
 Road condition: Good, we got all paved roads. Highway 270 was nice to ride on, with wide shoulders. Later when we arrived in McLoud, which is about 25 miles away from Oklahoma City, we rode through the 29th street and that way had no shoulders. At some points it also didn’t have anything painted on the floor to separate the lanes.
Difficulty: 6C - Tell me more
Lodging: Hotel – Motel 6