Day 38: Prattville to Tuskegee

The rolling hills gave me a day off. ?After two days of beating me to death, they got together and said, “You know what? ?Let’s let Georgia kill him. ?They’ll never find his body there.”


It was a short day — by mileage. ?Not even 50 miles. ?I’d briefly considered stopping at the one hotel here in Shorter . . .


. . . but then I’d just have to ride those miles tomorrow, so, what would be the point?

While I’m thinking about it, you think “Shorter” is where the purchasers of these trucks all hail from?


It’d be appropriate.

Also, while I’m thinking about, had a very sexy friend comment on this picture:


Wasn’t too sure what would happen next after you couldn’t keep your ‘civilian pants’ up.

If those pants had dropped, someone would have immediately suggested I go buy an obnoxious truck from the Shorter truck dealer . . .

Got a very late start from HoJo this morning:


I knew today was going to be a flat, low-mileage day, so I took my time getting ready. ?One of the housekeepers passed me as I was coming back from the ice machine and asked, “Did you get plenty of sleep last night, sir?”

I shrugged. ?”Well, I got sleep, but I don’t think I’ve had ‘plenty’ of sleep since about 1992.”

It was another pretty day to ride, even with the wind in my face all nearly-50 miles. ?I saw a gazillion more ant hills.


Which got me thinking that y’all probably think I was exaggerating when I said yesterday I’d been encountering them every few feet. ?With that in mind, here’s a random stretch of road that didn’t last 1/20th of a mile:

You know, if the ant queens ever quit sending out soldier ants to fight other colonies, ala “Game of Thrones,” realize that as a species they?out weigh humans, and?start to get people to do their bidding, we’re doomed.

But that’ll never happen, right?


Oh, shit.

Right out of the chute this morning I encountered this sign:


Well,?that’s?going to be interesting, I thought. ?I figured some bureaucrat would tell me that bicycles weren’t allowed on this road, yadda yadda.

I got to the toll booth itself and got in line behind the other cars.


As the car before me got to the toll booth, the woman manning the booth turned to me and said, “Sweetie, you have to go all the way to the right, hon. ?You can’t be there.” ?(Ahh, a Sweetie?and?a Hon in the same sentence!)

“Well, how am I going to pay you if I’m all the way over there?”

She actually asked, “You’re on a bicycle, right?”

I looked down at my faithful steed. ?”It appears that I am indeed on a bicycle.”

“Then you don’t pay, hon. ?Bicycles don’t pay.”

I wanted to tell her

  • (1) There was a sign about a half mile back which said the fare for a 2-axle non-commercial vehicle was $1.50. ?The sign?did?technically cover me. ?There was no mention on the sign that “bicycles don’t pay.”
  • (2) Bicycles don’t kill people. ?People that ride bicycles kill people. ?(Bicycles didn’t pay for?anything?if you got right down to it.)

I didn’t think she’d appreciate my warped sense of humor. ?Plus, I could tell the driver of the car — the one the toll booth operator had been ignoring to address the idiot on the bicycle — would only be patient a little while longer. ?She’d then roll down her window and say to me, “Bless your pea-picking heart and move your ass over to the right, would ya?”

I was saving 12 bits, so around the whole toll booth thing I went, with a “thank you!” and a wave.

The toll paid for access across the bridge which went over the Alabama River:


Some?mighty fine?homes right there:

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All the homes were on stilts:


I’m guessing the Alabama gets a little pissy from time to time and goes wandering out its banks.

Speaking of things that get a little pissy from time to time. ?I know this will come as a shock, but I’m one of those things.

In particular when the technology I’m depending on isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

Let’s drag up my old friend Google Maps today. ?I can’t beat on it too bad because I got so frustrated at one point, I also pulled up Mapquest. ?It gave me about the same information as Maps. ?Which means I get to blame all this on the State of Alabama.

I’m obviously headed east. ?(Heading?west?would be a?really?long way from Los Angeles to Hilton Head.) ?On neither Maps?nor?Mapquest were the names of the roads they wanted me to take on the actual roads themselves.

For example, both apps wanted me to take US 80 East. ?I would have been tickled to do so, but US 80 East?decided to run along the same patch of ground as Interstate 85 . . .?North.


As I’ve bitched about for days now, you can’t ride on the Interstates in Alabama. ?And why is a road that is?definitely?going?east?marked?north?

If you can answer?that?question, maybe you can answer this one. ?This is the road I had to settle on that was going?due east:


It finally came together. ?US 80 East eventually split up from I-85 and AL-126 went off in the corner to wonder where life went wrong.

Random Stuff:

This sign took me a few seconds to figure out.


(That fruit is a peach, by the way. ?You might have to say it out loud. ?That’s what I had to do.)

I’ve seen lots of trains on this trip, but I don’t recall being stopped by one until this morning:


A train is about the only thing I haven’t traveled upon during?The Ride. ?I drove to LA in my car. ?I took a plane to Hawaii. ?While there I took a boat to the USS Arizona. ?A bus to the Honolulu airport. ?And perhaps a mile or two on a bicycle. ?But no train. ?(Ok, no unicycle or pogo stick, either, but, you know.)

They’re selling the other . . .?what?


Guy’s got enough satellite dish power to talk to the Pluto spacecraft:


I’m spending the night here:


on the grounds of the Tuskegee University. ?It’s a beautiful campus, it’s a very nice place I’m staying, and I simply could not have asked for nicer and friendlier folks:

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The place has a built in restaurant. ?Dinner was chicken quesadillas, fries, and some of the best damned steamed vegetables I’ve had in ages. ?The bill for all that — and about a gallon of diet coke — came to just $14. ?When the front counter people had checked me in earlier in the day, they gave me a $20 discount on the room rate. ?(Probably because they felt sorry for my tired old ass.) ?I passed along the wealth and left a $10 tip for the guy who waited on me. ?Really?nice folks here!

Speaking of really nice people, about five or six miles out of Tuskegee, I heard a familiar sound . . . unheard this entire trip. ?The sound of bicycle tires.? I was being passed by a bicyclist!


James Sullen is — get this! — a retired US Navy Master Chief! ?He’s been retired since 1996 and works as a truck driver during the evenings. ?Three or four times a week he goes out and rides 20 to 30 miles. ?On weekends he tries to get 50 or 60 miles per day in.

He actually led me all the way into the Kellogg Center on campus, even though it was way out of his way.

At one point we got stopped behind a car that had quit running. ?James and I got off our bikes and helped push the car into a (thankfully very close!) garage. ?As we were pushing it, four or five other guys came along and helped us the last 50 feet or so.

During our ride together we talked about the Navy, about bicycling, and about how my ride was inspiring him to do one of his own soon. ?He told me at one point, “I’m just going to call my boss and tell him I’m taking tomorrow off so I can ride to Columbus with you!”

For the most part, I don’t get lonely. ?I’m very content with my own company. ?But there have been times on?The Ride?where it would have been nice to have someone to talk to. ?Something more than a quick five minute conversation about how nuts I am to be doing this in the first place. ?My visits with ?my buddy Mike in Flagstaff and my sister Tammy in Greenwood, MS helped immensely.

Thanks for the company, Master Chief Sullen! ?It made my day!

I’m still coughing like crazy. ?To the point it’s waking me up at night. ?I’m swigging this stuff now, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much good:


Plus, at the beginning and end of each day I’m having sneezing fits. ?And, what the hell, might as well mention the ice-pick jab pain that I’ve been having for the last three days now. ?Jeeez, I’m falling apart this close to the finish line.

Tomorrow: ?Goodbye Alabama. ?Georgia is just?over there.