Day 45 – Sweet Home Alabama (December 16, 2020)

Night 45- Mobile, AL

Remember all those “bad” weather conditions we didn’t have yesterday? Yeah, they all happened at the same time today. And I woke up to a flat. And a broken rack.

It was a day.

So, we got a hotel last night for two reasons.

  1. Downtown Pensacola is no place to camp.
  2. We needed to be within 50 miles of the Ferry to dauphin island.

Well, we woke up and found that plans had to change. Every host failed us, there are no churches, and every lodging on the island started at 100+$… we scrambled all morning to try and figure something out. Then rerouted towards Mobile. Then we ran into even more roadblocks in planning. So when people wonder why we cannot plan more than a few days out, this is why.

As nice as it is to wake up in a hotel room, it chips away days of funding each time. The riding conditions would make it even less fun. Head winds all day with the occasional crosswind to push us off a nonexistent shoulder. The hills were minor, but just added to the joy as the weather kept creeping towards colder andinor bouts of mist.

14 miles down the road, we left Florida. We will only be Alabama for about 24 hours, and Mississippi for only a short time more than that. New Orleans is the current goal. For now we had to deal with Alabama.

Now, I don’t mean to bad mouth an entire state, but as soon as we crossed the border, the ride got a lot worse. They filled the bike lane (it’s a shoulder that is marked for bikes) with rumble strip. This makes us ride on the white line or the occasional 5 inches between rumble strip and garbage. Then there are these massive piles of tree debris that were just left a foot from the road. Dodging branches is fun, but I do feel for everyone. The damage in this area from recent hurricanes or even just Micheal from 2 years ago was still clearly visible.

At 25 miles left we started looking for a pit stop. We were losing light quickly and not looking forward to the rest of the ride. Rolling along we got separated by a few hundred yards but knew we were stopping in about 5 miles. So I come by a feeder road that lead on to 90. Stop sign, two lanes. A truck pulls out with a trailer full of rocks well be for me and pulls off into the grass. Good. Then another truck pulls out as I pass infront of him and proceeds to push me off the road.

Luckily there was plenty of grass and he couldn’t hear what I had to say. So I held back behind as he was now blocking the way. I sat there just cooling off when he came back to apologize. “I didn’t see you”…. yeah, I was in my full vis shirt and have my vest over the back of the bike with a bright orange helmet. I’m guessing he didn’t look. I was a little fuming, but just then Russell zipped by, so I just waved, said “thank you for apologizing” and rode off.

Gas stations in the middle of a small Alabama town are very interesting for people watching. First, I went for the men’s room and a guy just pushes past me to get in first. Fine. Then another guy gives me the side eye and follows me outside the have a smoke and chat. He asked the same old questions in a weird way then eluded to money someone owes him. Not sure if he was scheming or just a different kind of homeless man, but not as bad as Florida man from the night before. Russell came back out and the guy wandered off… seeming into the brush to the side of the store…. alright.

We sit outside a bit, just trying to relax before the last push, when a guy with a full leg brace hobbles out, makes it halfway to his truck, turns right towards us and says “yall want some Percocet? “Uh, we’re good”. He just kept walking. Well, first gas station drug dealer for us. I’ve seen a few of these guys around, but this guy was the first to offer. Weird.

Riding on the wind got better and worse depending on the size of the field next to us. It was getting colder now and that break made us lose some heat, but that would return. Lights on, we kept moving. Our pace wasn’t much greater than 10-12 mph all day, even on the down hills because of the wind.

Just before the hotel, we rolled through a strip mall and saw a bike shop that was still open. I could use some tubes, so we stopped in. Oh the things we would find out. I took my spare tread off my rear rack to take inside. It is slightly bigger and I wanted to get the size right. That’s when I noticed it was hiding a snapped brace of my rear rack…. ouch. That explains a lot. My bike had been pretty wobbly all day. Now I needed a new rack and would have to replace it tonight. So much for relaxing.

We rolled into the hotel and another cyclist. He was up a 15 foot wall outside the hotel over. His bike barely had anything on it. Much more like a bikepacker with minimal sleeping gear. We talked for a moment and it sounded like he ditched all his big bags right out of Texas because he know camping was tricky on the east coast. He was going from San Diego to Savannah, and had decided it was worth it to go light and put in more 100 miles days. Hotels and hosts only for him. Ride on, my dude.

Dumped the bikes in the room and ran over to McDaniels for dinner. I began my work. Change tire tread, clean and grease chain, unload, replace rear rack, make it perfect, test, adjust, test, adjust, and lock everything down.

Now it’s 9 o’clock and I need to shower. What a day. Bad roads, bad weather, bad drivers, weird bystanders, and bad luck. Sweet home Alabama, get me out of here.

Trying to start fresh today. McDonald’s coffee might have to work since there isn’t a way to make it in the room. Have a great day everyone. I hope my friends in the north east can enjoy the coupke feet of snow they just got. I love snow. Just not on bikes.

As usual-

Follow us or catch up at

Bandofbikes.com

Find us on Instagram

@bandofbikes

@_round_about_way_

@rlmichaud

And for those who want to help but can’t host us, we take donations through PayPal at the moment, but are looking for suggestions for other funding channels.

Buy us dinner, help us find a host, or help pass along our story. Everything and anything is appreciated.

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