Dublin, GA to Fort Valley, GA
This was the longest and toughest day yet. It started out cold, around 30 degrees, with a strong wind of 15 mph from the west-northwest. I fought that wind for the entire day. I dressed for the worst, wearing liners with my cycling gloves, plus a balaclava. I also wore three layers on top and two on the bottom. I thought I wouldn't have to dress like this until I got to the mountains out west!
After yet another late start, I left the Super 8 around 10:30 AM. I used Industrial Blvd. to get back to US 80. From the name, one might surmise that this wasn't an ideal cycling road, especially on a weekday, but it saved me several miles of backtracking through downtown Dublin. I came out to US 80 right by a Waffle House, so I locked up my bike and stopped for breakfast. Without a second thought, I walked into the restaurant with my balaclava on. The waitresses stood there staring at me...they thought I was going to hold up  the place! The bike helmet should have tipped them off (only a really dumb criminal would use a bike for a getaway vehicle), but I guess balaclavas aren't normal Georgia attire so I caught them by surprise. After breakfast, I warned the waitress not to get upset as I put on my balaclava once again.
US 80 was under construction on the east end of town, but I was able to ride on the not-yet-opened lanes. I struggled into the wind, even on the downhills. The wind would pick up as I crested the hill. It was all I could do to maintain a 10 mph average. All day, I fretted over whether or not I had time to make it to Fort Valley. There were no good intermediate options, and my low speed put me on target to barely make it before sunset. A least US 80 had good shoulders. When I got to SR 358, I headed west-southwest, which made it a little easier to fight the wind. Later on SR 96, the shoulders were spotty and the traffic heavy. I went up and down more hills than I could remember, crossing the Ocmulgee River and the southern edge of Warner-Robins in the process. I made fun of one of the new housing developments there, Tara Estate. Say it a few times fast, and it sounds like " terrorist state!" Oops, the builders probably hadn't thought of that one. I crossed Interstate 75, and finally I was in the home stretch, just eight miles to Fort Valley. It was a very long eight miles. I don't understand how I could ride to a town named " valley" when I seemed to just keep climbing. After six hours of riding time, I finally got there just before 6:00 (sunset was at 6:25). I checked into the Valley Motel with a decent rate of $43, a solid $15 savings over the Days Inn across the parking lot. Before dinner, I decided I'd better take a nice, hot shower. I think I even fell asleep briefly in the tub as I lay there being pelted with warmth from above. It felt so good after a long, hard, hilly, chilly day. I went to the Huddle House across the street for dinner. The food was just okay, but the waitress, Angie, was really sweet and cute. When I got back to my room, I said to myself, " Boy, if I were single..." Then I finished the sentence for myself, " ...I'd just be sitting here alone in my room thinking that waitress was cute, just like I am now." I had a good laugh about that.
I had a long day behind me and another ahead, so I got to sleep reasonably early.
Totals for the day: 62.37 miles in 6:09:06 for a painfully slow 10.1 mph average.
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