Pooler, GA to Metter, GA
I got a late start on Thursday, as I slept in to catch up on the sleep I'd missed on Amtrak. Besides, the planned ride to Metter was around 55 miles, an easy goal. Or so I thought. Well, actually, I wasn't thinking, because if I had been, I would have recalled that the second day of every multi-day bike trip I've done has been pretty tough. In fact, the first time, the second day was so bad that I bailed out and went home!
I started out from Pooler at 11 AM. There was a good breeze, but it wasn't as paralyzing as Wednesday's wind. At least I managed to say out of my smallest chainring. I headed west on US 80 and soon regretted my decision not to stop for a meal in Pooler. I was out in the country and getting hungry. A sign pointing down a side road teased me: " Kennedy's Kitchen BBQ & Seafood." When I rode down there, I discovered that the place was only open three nights a week (I discovered that there are many such weekend supper places in the rural South). In another town, Eden (preceded on US 80 by the " East of Eden Salvage Yard" ), I saw a building ahead that looked like a restaurant. " Probably a seafood joint," I said to myself. Sure enough, it was (I don't eat seafood). A fewmiles down th road in Blitchton, I was teased once again by a pizza and sub shop that was closed. I settled for the IGA (a grocery store) across the road. I bought a bag of hamburger buns and a package of ham, and I ate ham sandwiches on the bench outside.
I was feeling all right, except my Achilles tendons were a little sore. That seems to be a weak spot for me, as that's what always hurts when I ride too hard,  too soon. I suppose I should have done exercises or stretches to strengthen them, but of course it was too late now. The turn for Metter came, and I headed toward my evening destination. A sign gave the distance to Metter as 34 miles, so I began doing calculations in my head of how long it would take at the speed I was averaging. Awhile later, SR 119 went left and I went straight. There was a sign that said Metter was 34 miles. Argh! At this rate, I would never get there! The second sign was riddled with bullet holes, probably from frustrated cyclists. A check of the map verified that I traveled 1.7 miles between the signs. So which one was right? The second one was, since it was about 36 miles to Metter from the first sign, not 34.
This road was part of Georgia State Bicycle Route 40. The state has a very cool initiative to designate long road routes throughout the state as bicycle routes. These are routes that actually go somewhere, as opposed to the many short, disjointed recreational bike trails around the country. SBR 40 goes from north of Columbus to Savannah, so it made sense for me to follow it at least some of the way (by the way, signs aren't posted yet--I got a cue sheet from someone at the Georgia DOT). I could have ridden it almost the whole way, except that I made adjustments based on lodging availability. Lodging dictated today's destination--my other options were to ride five miles or to ride 85+ miles, which I could not do so early in the tour. Besides, this town gave me a mantra of sorts to repeat as I climbed hills into the wind: " Everything will be better when I get to Metter!"
The hills were not steep, but many were long, and the wind seemed to pick up as the afternoon wore on. My aching ankles weren't feeling any better, but eventually they stopped feeling worse. I began to think about where and when my first rest day would be--it had to be soon, before my ankles were beyond recovery. Rain was predicted for Saturday, so I hoped to hold out until then. I stopped in for something to eat at a convenience store. The woman there said, " It's too cold to be riding a bike out there today."
" Well, it's not so bad for me since I'm from Chicago. It's the wind that's bugging me."
She asked me if I was just riding around in the area, and I told her about my trip. She said she was envious. Back on the road to Metter, her comment got me thinking... most people have one of two reactions when they hear about my trip. Either they want to come along or they think I'm crazy (maybe even both?). I think I'll put a quiz on the web site...
The tiny town of Register was next, with its welcome sign declaring that Register is " a safe speed community." That is sooo lame! Is that the best that the town fathers could imagine? I've been through Amtrak communities, D.A.R.E. communities, Arbor Day communities... but a safe speed community? I got an even bigger laugh as I left town. On the back side of the sign welcoming eastbound travelers, it said, " Thank you for driving slowly." Ha! It was my pleasure! Of course, the headwind and my sore ankles had something to do with it...
Traffic picked up as I approached Metter. After repeating my mantra so many times, I had to stop at the city limits for the welcome sign that proclaimed, " Everything's better in Metter." Even more promising was a sign declaring the town as a bike-friendly community. That's much better than a safe-speed community, I think. I rode to the short motel row (three choices) and decided to try the Metter Inn. It had a reasonable rate of $36.95. The TV was small, but the room had a microwave and a fridge. I switched on the TV to see the weather forecast, and ElimiDate was on. What a cheesy, sleazy show! This guy gets to take two girls (he was rejecting girl #3 as I tuned in) to a lingerie party where he will decide which one to keep. So one girl says she wants to go to the pool. After he jumps in, she takes off her top and jumps in with him. The other girl is standing there aghast. When it was time to choose one, he asked the dry girl why he should keep her. She replied, " Because you haven't seen my breasts yet." Well, surprise, surprise, the guy decided to keep the one who jumped half-naked into the pool with him instead. I was thinking, " Yeah, this is a realistic presentation of the single life!"
The Weather Channel predicted rain pretty much everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains for Saturday, but Friday sounded like a nice day. After a quick shower, I walked across the street to the Village Pizza Inn for dinner. My ankles hurt with every step. Uh-oh. I discovered later that my off-bike shoes come up my ankles an inch beyond my cycling shoes, so that's why they were bothering me. The pizza was okay, not great. I was surprised that the cheese tasted just like the cheese on my homemade pizzas--usually restaurant pizza cheese tastes a little different.
I planned three options for the next day, depending on how I felt:
I spent my evening evaluating half a dozen HTML editors that I had downloaded prior to my departure. Naturally, I decided that the one I was already using was better.
Totals for the day: 55.91 miles in 5:02:56 for an average of 11.1 mph.
Click here to see today's photos.
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